Thursday October 10, 2013
The Green Mountain Gears, South Burlington’s local FIRST Lego League Team, presented their latest robot design and project at the Mini Maker Faire at Shelburne Farms on September 27 and 28. The team joined 14,000 other teams, across the globe, in designing autonomous robots to overcome obstacles inspired by natural disasters.
The team wrote a computer game for their project, Flood Trek, using Scratch, a programming language developed by the Media Lab at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and freely distributed through the internet. The game aims to teach kids about flood preparation, which the team learned was a problem after meeting with local experts such as Tom Messner of WCAX and Jenn Kimmich from the Alchemist. The team conducted further research and learned that as few as 17% of Americans are prepared for a storm. The team research also concluded that Americans are less often prepared because they do not believe a storm will affect them and because our culture does not emphasize storm preparation.
The team thought a game could change attitudes toward storm preparation after listening to a series of TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) talks by prominent game designers, such as Jane McGonigal, who used games to promote social change.
The team wrote the initial version of the game using information from the ready.gov website. The team hopes that users will learn about the essentials for an emergency kit and some basic rules for evacuation. The team hopes that community members will play their game and leave them some comments on the performance of their game to help drive future versions. The team also hopes that community members will complete their SurveyMonkey survey so that they can collect pre/post game attitudes toward flood preparation. Community members can access the game and learn more about the project at www.greenmountaingears.org.
The team includes veterans Luke Fitzgerald (10), Andrew Kim (10) and Damon Strempek (9); and newcomers: Ethan Berh (11), Kenny Chamberlain (9), Vehit Gupta(9), Myles Peterson (9), and Patrick Sweeny(9).