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UC PhD students entering their world-first geothermal game

UC PhD students entering their world-first geothermal game in Florida competition

Jacqueline Dohaney

Two University of Canterbury (UC) PhD students are fine turning their world-first geothermal computer game in preparation for the international serious games showcase and challenge at Orlando, Florida, in December.

They will be pitting their skills against the best from around the world using a computer game, Geothermal World; they have designed, with the help of Mighty River Power funding. It is believed to be the only free roaming 3D geothermal video computer game in the world.

UC students Jacqueline Dohaney and Hazel Bradshaw have entered the international competition aimed at awarding different categories of serious games.

Their GeoThermal World game will be played and presented to the attendees and judges, and then evaluated on specific design and gaming criteria.

The main aim is to allow students to network with professionals from all around the globe, and in the past has included high-value sponsor prizes which are to be determined on the night of the award ceremony.

``Hazel and I collaborated on the game project to create a geologic video game,’’ Dohaney said today.

``Our overall goals were to design and test learning tools which teach undergraduate geology students what it is really like to work for a geothermal exploration company. This is aligned with our UC initiative to expose and educate students about working with industry, particularly renewable resources such as geothermal.

``GeoThermal World is designed to effectively teach students how to characterise or describe a natural geothermal site. They achieve this by exploring geothermal hot springs, making observations, recording these in a geologic notebook and taking photographs of the location.’’

Dohaney said traditional lecturing techniques were generally passive where students did not actively participate in the learning and those techniques were not tailored to teach students practical skills.

She said geology was an exception to many other sciences, in that they tended to teach and learn in the field on field trips. We think video games are very effective supplement to field teaching.

``My PhD research started in 2010, and will be completed by the end of April 2013. The research incorporates many science education topics, and at present we have published on two different topics. I am working towards getting two more publications out including results from the GeoThermal World study before submitting my thesis.

``At the moment we are still user testing the videogame, but we are aiming to have a packaged, deliverable product for Mighty River Power at the end of my research. At that point, we will talk with them on whether they would like to make the game publically available. ‘’


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