Game screen capture
Players in CO2peration pursue a science mystery: why is there so much water on Earth? Screen capture from CO2peration courtesy of Inez Harker-Schuch.

Learning about sea-level rise, melting icebergs, and natural disasters can be overwhelming. So researchers are developing an alternative way to introduce young people to climate science.

PhD candidate Inez Harker-Schuch of the Australian National University leads a team that’s creating a 3D computer game for middle-schoolers. Players travel to other planets, collecting data about their atmosphere and climate conditions.

It’s not about climate change per se, but the concepts that underpin it, such as how a greenhouse gas traps heat and how a planet’s climate is affected by its atmosphere.

Harker-Schuch: “We’re not interested in changing their opinion, or giving them an opinion in the first place. I’m only interested in teaching them about the science.”

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She says middle schoolers are at a good age to absorb the information.

Harker-Schuch: “They’re a unique age group because they’ve just begun to go through the second critical phase of intellectual development, so they’re starting to process very complex things, and they haven’t yet formed their world views.”

She says that if students understand these basic principles, they will be better prepared to understand how and why earth’s climate is changing, and what can be done.

Reporting credit: Justyna Bicz/ChavoBart Digital Media.

Bud Ward

Bud Ward is Editor of Yale Climate Connections. He started his environmental journalism career in 1974. He later served as Assistant Director of the U.S. Congress's National Commission on Air Quality,...