IBM recently launched a free multiplayer online game, PowerUp, that challenges teenagers to help save the planet “Helios” from ecological disaster. The game is part of IBM’s TryScience initiative, which encourages students to investigate, discover, and try science by linking it to engaging, real-world activities. PowerUp can be played alone or with other students and features a planet in near ecological ruin, where three missions to supply solar, wind, and water power must be solved before sandstorms, floods, or SmogGobs thwart the rescue. IBM devised the three-dimensional virtual game to engage students in learning about engineering, energy, and diversity awareness. PowerUp aims to use kids’ interest in fantasy virtual worlds to encourage them to learn about engineering principles by riding over rugged mountains in buggies to build solar towers or searching through grim junk yards to repair wind turbines. Classroom lesson plans covering energy transformation, and an interactive module where kids can learn about technologies to build virtual worlds, also accompany the game. To ensure a safe environment, avatars use phrase-based chats to interact during missions.

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