It is well confirmed by scientists that we are in the midst of a climate crisis. Human behaviour caused this problem, and we need a change of human behaviour to solve it. But the problem is... changing the way that humans behave is notoriously difficult. Studies assessing the effectiveness of climate change education have shown that fear-based narratives don’t work in changing our behaviours around climate change. Neither do lecture-based approaches. We need an approach to instilling healthier climate habits in a way that actually works.
So, why focus on educating children? Studies have shown that when children receive engaging climate education, they are more likely to have environmentally responsible attitudes and behaviours, even if their parents don't change. Involving children in addressing climate change creates a sense of personal responsibility and gives them a voice for creating long-lasting environmental changes for the better!
The best way to create long-lasting cultural shifts is through education. And the best way to educate kids is to make it fun!
Roblox is a free global online gaming platform where anyone can play games created by other users. Did you know that over half of individuals under 16 years old in the US have played Roblox? Especially with the shift towards online learning, our hack meets kids where they're at!
What it does
Our game teaches young children (ages 4-7) correct waste sorting. The game involves the player picking up various waste items and placing them in either the garbage, compost, or recycling. For each correctly sorted item, players earn points. For incorrectly sorted items, the players are given feedback so that they can correctly sort the items next time.
A continuation of this game could include the rest of the waste-disposal process --teaching children what happens to their garbage, recycling, and compost once it is collected-- and use the points they’ve earned from correctly sorting their waste to plant virtual trees.
How we built it
We built this game using Roblox Studio, which uses the Lua code programming language. Additionally, some of our server data is stored using IPFS protocol and is thus decentralized. Our process involved scrum meetings and peer programming for a truly collaborative approach.
Challenges we ran into
- Thinking of a solid idea that would truly make an impact
- For Vivek and Amy, it was our first time building a Roblox game, which came with a learning curve at the beginning
- Making good UIs with animation
- Designing client-server interface in Roblox, which is different from client-server interface in a web application
- Understanding and integrating IPFS protocol into our game server
Accomplishments that we're proud of
- Shipping a finished product
- Demonstrating a proof of concept that can make a difference in the world
- Overcoming learning curves for various new technologies
What we learned
- Programming in Lua
- How IPFS works
- Understanding the server-client communication in Roblox
- Understanding UI design in Roblox
- Creating a landscape in Roblox
- The research behind educational approaches to promoting sustainability
What's next for Sustainablox
This game could be a jumping-off point for other age-appropriate sustainability-themed educational games. Other Roblox games could encourage habits such as turning off lights to conserve energy, turning off faucets to save water, or reducing food waste. The possibilities are endless!
Feedback UI module component - from Coin Obby
Roblox models from Roblox toolbox
Roundify plugin from Roblox marketplace
Pinata service for pinning game server data onto IPFS
HTTP service for Roblox - https://developer.roblox.com/en-us/api-reference/class/HttpService
Roblox client-server communication - https://developer.roblox.com/en-us/articles/Remote-Functions-and-Events
Academic research references
Lawson, Danielle F., Kathryn T. Stevenson, M. Nils Peterson, Sarah J. Carrier, Erin Seekamp & Renee Strnad. "Evaluating climate change behaviors and concern in the family context". Environmental Education Research, vol. 25, no. 5, 2019, pp. 678-690, doi: 10.1080/13504622.2018.1564248.
O’Neill, Saffron, and Sophie Nicholson-Cole. “‘Fear Won’t Do It’: Promoting Positive Engagement With Climate Change Through Visual and Iconic Representations.” Science Communication, vol. 30, no. 3, Mar. 2009, pp. 355–379, doi:10.1177/1075547008329201.
Rousell, David, and Amy Cutter-Mackenzie-Knowles. "A systematic review of climate change education: giving children and young people a ‘voice’ and a ‘hand’ in redressing climate change". Children's Geographies, vol. 18, no. 2, 2020, pp. 191-208, doi: 10.1080/14733285.2019.1614532.
Lyles, Taylor. “Over Half of US Kids Are Playing Roblox, and It's about to Host Fortnite-Esque Virtual Parties Too.” The Verge, The Verge, 21 July 2020, www.theverge.com/2020/7/21/21333431/roblox-over-half-of-us-kids-playing-virtual-parties-fortnite.