Gaming for Conservation

MIT’s App Inventor is an amazing tool for education.  We are exploring its use in our Visual Communication and Technology class that I am teaching with an independent study student.  One of the basic tutorials for the program demonstrates how to make a simple “Whack-a-Mole” game and how to deploy it to a cell phone.  One might wonder how such a game could help to teach something.  However, having an image of mole to tap on with your finger is just a few steps away from having a game with a database of plant or animal images, where the game player needs to discriminate between an image of a native animal or exotic one that pops up on the phone screen for a second before disappearing. If points are gained for tapping on native species and lost for tapping on a non-native species, this all becomes a fun and fast paced game.  Take a look at an example project that came out from the exercise:

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