Feds Spend $224,999 on 'Clean Water' Video Game

Children can 'right environmental wrongs' of fictional town

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July 17, 2017

The National Institutes of Health is spending over $200,000 on a video game about clean water.

The computer game will help children "right the environmental wrongs" of a fictional town. A grant for the project was awarded last month to Meadowlark Science and Education, a company that makes STEM video games in Missoula, Mont.

The target audience of the new environmental health video game is 5th and 6th graders, who will use the game to sharpen their Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math skills while increasing their "awareness of the importance of clean water."

"Improving STEM-focused curriculum is a primary objective of the current U.S. administration and is crucial for ensuring that upcoming generations receive the training and skills necessary to compete in the existing global economy," according to the grant for the project. "To that end, there is an urgent need for additional effective teaching tools able to reach a generation that requires instant access to information and advanced technology."

"Of particular interest to this proposal is the development of a highly effective, marketable, and interactive educational video game (iEVG) that focuses on STEM topics and targets 5th and 6th grade students—the age at which interest in STEM subjects is developed or lost," the grant states.

The goal of the study is to create a computer game with "significant commercial potential that increases awareness of the importance of clean water in human health."

The project, which began in July, has received $224,999. Research will continue through 2018.

Meadowlark Science and Education announced an upcoming project on its website for a computer game entitled "Water Follies." The objective of the game is for children to convince politicians on the importance of environmental issues.

"You play as Clark Flyer, a meadowlark who works together with a diverse cast of lovable animal characters, to solve and correct environmental issues plaguing their town," the company said. "Clark's goal is to convince the reluctant politicians in power that clean, lead-free drinking water should be everyone's top priority."

"Using your knowledge of STEM, you will solve puzzles, conduct experiments, and develop hypotheses to right the environmental wrongs that have affected the community," Meadowlark Science and Education said. "By interacting with the townsfolk, you will make many new friends and learn about their lives. With the help of your new buddies, you can make Holian Falls a town where everyone would want to live!"

The company has a disclaimer on its website listing government funding and that the content is "solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health."