Virtual Microbe

Education Arcade staff is working with MIT professor Roman Stocker, from the Civil & Environmental Engineering Department, to develop a single-player Flash game in which one plays as a nanotechnologist tasked with populating dead zones in the ocean. To do this, the player designs and produces nanobots that recreate the purpose of microbes as consumers and producers in an underwater ecosystem. Players run test simulations to see how their nanobots interact with each other. Each level introduces new goals and constraints (e.g., budget), as well as new science and engineering concepts. The game targets high school age teens and is part of a larger project funded by the NSF with Dr. Stocker as the lead P.I. One of the design challenges of the game is to take a repetitive scientific task (repeat trials/testing) and make it enjoyable. Another is to compress the simulation run time and find ways to make the experience more interactive so that players aren't just passively observing and waiting.