Opportunities to virtually explore the deep sea in a remotely operated underwater vehicle (ROV) or navigate a “seismic city” during an earthquake are now just a click away thanks to Scripps Institution of Oceanography Games (SIO Games) at UC San Diego.
Led by Scripps Oceanography seismologist Debi Kilb, SIO Games are unconventional outreach tools (think video games and interactive displays) designed to teach youth and the young-at-heart about Scripps research and the thrill of scientific discovery.
Noting the positive impact that educational video games such as Minecraft had on their own two children, Scripps family members Eaton and Marty Scripps were inspired to donate to support SIO Games. Their recent gift to SIO Games will fund one year of program operations.
SIO Games team members interact with hundreds of young students every year through a multitude of custom-designed games and activities, including virtual reality goggles that take viewers on a “behind the scenes” tour of the Scripps Pier and the research vessel Revelle, a hands-on Kinect “Quake Catcher” game in which students become seismologists responding to a large earthquake, and the Xbox game Deep-Sea Extreme Environment Pilot (DEEP), which teaches players about how today’s scientists study deep-ocean environments.
“SIO Games is another tool to reach those kids who haven’t experienced the right style of learning that really captures the imagination,” said Eaton Scripps. “My hope is that through the games we can inspire these kids, who will become the next generation of ocean science leaders.”
The Scripps’s gift will foster growth and development of SIO Games, enabling Kilb and her team to take their science-based visualization tools and outreach activities to the next level.
“This generous gift has allowed SIO Games to begin new work on a virtual reality video game about narwhal research, double the number of outreach events we give each year—in schools, after school programs, museums and public events—and explore creating apps pertaining to Scripps science,” said Kilb.
In the past three months alone, the SIO Games team has participated in multiple outreach events focused on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math), including the “Tech to Reconnect” event at the San Diego Zoo, the “Great California Shake Out” event at Birch Aquarium at Scripps, and a science showcase at the Elementary Institute of Science.
In addition to the hands-on outreach fostered by SIO Games, Eaton and Marty Scripps found the online game access to be appealing, as this platform enables students from anywhere with an Internet connection to learn about ocean science.
“Through SIO Games, we can reach kids from all over, including those who are not living next to the ocean,” said Eaton Scripps. “Whether you live in Colorado, Ohio, or Kansas—all kids should have the opportunity to learn about the ocean because it affects everyone.”
A passion for educating youth about the importance of understanding and protecting the planet keeps the SIO Games team busy, but Kilb says they wouldn’t have it any other way.
“This generous gift has allowed us to say ‘yes’ to outreach events that we otherwise would have had to turn down,” said Kilb, noting that the SIO Games program relies heavily on private support to stay afloat. “We are so thankful for Eaton and Marty’s support, and for them believing and investing in our team.”
To learn more about supporting SIO Games, contact Debi Kilb at firstname.lastname@example.org or (858) 822-4607.
– Brittany Hook