CSG students developing game to teach children about carbon capture - The University of Tulsa
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CSG students developing game to teach children about carbon capture

Carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) are widely seen as vital elements of the global effort to combat human-induced climate change. For example, technologies have been developed that take CO2 generated in coal-fired power plants, compress it, and then either transport it so it can be used for other purposes, such as making fertilizer, or stored, for example by injecting it deep underground.

Students at a computer
(Left to right) CSG students Aidan Pohl, Blaine Grimes, and Christopher Depalma

At The University of Tulsa, the topic is at the center of efforts by a group of computer simulation and gaming (CSG) students to develop a CCUS education simulation. Under the mentorship of Akram Taghavi-Burris, TU’s CSG program coordinator, and with funding support from Chevron, the students are designing a city-building game for use in middle schools that will teach children about the environmental impacts of carbon emissions, various CCUS methods, and the associated costs. “The primary goal of this web-based PC game is to offer a practical perspective on the challenges associated with CCUS, including policy considerations, community engagement, infrastructure, and financing,” explained Taghavi-Burris.

In the game’s interactive environment, players assume the role of city managers. Much as in the real world, as their city expands, so does its CO2 emissions. “Simply planting a lot of trees won’t solve the problem,” remarked Blaine Grimes, CSG junior and one of TU’s student developers. “In our game, players must also consider roads, structures, and residences when making plans. They also need to manage a budget and carefully weigh the advantages and disadvantages of each CCUS method they employ.”

Picture of game screenJoining Grimes this semester on the Tulsa Undergraduate Research Challenge project are fellow CSG junior Christopher Depalma and CSG/computer science senior Aidan Pohl. “One standout feature of this project is its incorporation of real-world data on CO2 emissions,” noted Depalma. “Another is the opportunity to collaborate with Professor Ty Johannes and his chemical engineering students to ensure the accuracy of the data we’re using in the simulation.”

The team is currently hard at work on a prototype expected to be completed by the end of the semester. “By the end of the spring of 2024, we hope to have several levels completed, elaborating on core concepts in the game,” Pohl noted. “And our ultimate aim is to begin playtesting the educational game with partner schools starting next fall.”

It’s easy to stay in the loop on the project’s progress and even to take part in playtesting the game online. And if you are intrigued by what you read here and see there, why not reach out to Taghavi-Burris and see whether there’s a spot on the team for you?