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EcoChains: Arctic Crisis

While a graduate student at Columbia, I was employed as a game designer on several NSF grant-funded projects with the POLAR group. These folks created several tools to teach about climate change and its affect on Polar ecosystems. I was thrilled at the opportunity to work on EcoChains, a card games about the effects of climate change on the Arctic marine ecosystem.

One of the primary reasons I got involved in this field was to create games that made scientific understandings of complex systems more accessible. Previously, I modeled Chesapeake Bay oysters as an undergraduate with the Virginia Institute of Marine Science and, through this work, it became clear that effective public outreach was even more important than the research itself. Without popular understanding of ecofriendly policy, the "pill" would often be too big for local economies to swallow.

EcoChains was the perfect opportunity to pursue this idea. We were modeling the Arctic marine ecosystem and its reactions to climate change based on the work of our science lead, Stephanie Pfirman, and her colleagues at Barnard College and the Earth Institute of Columbia University. Professor Joey Lee was my project supervisor at Teachers College and in charge of the educational and game design aspects.

There's some more info about the game, including teaching resources here. You can buy a copy of the game on Amazon!

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