Game Design Publication

August 24, 2011

BioSynC and The Field Museum's Education Department published a worked example that presents the importance of scientific accuracy in gaming environments which rely heavily on learning-based activities that will appear in Volume 3: Issue 1 of the International Journal of Learning and Media.

This worked example focuses on WhyReef, a simulated coral reef in the virtual world of, which is targeted towards youth ages 8-16. The scientific accuracy of the WhyReef simulation fosters an appreciation for coral reef ecosystems, engages youth in scientific methods and techniques (particularly hypothesis testing and collaborative problem-solving), and assists with science content knowledge of coral reefs. It addresses the manner in which scientific accuracy in a learning-based virtual world simulates real-life scientific observations about and experiences in ecosystems; allows players to mimic scientific processes in order to inform solutions to real world questions; and provide real-life "scientific discovery" moments and opportunities for "higher-level" engagement.

For more information on WhyReef visit the BioSynC WhyReef project page.

Conservation Connection Final Projects

July 17, 2011

The teen participants in Chicago and Suva have completed the Conservation Connection program and their conservation outreach projects have been published! These included an article on overfishing published to the Fiji Times, a letter to the editor for the Fiji Times on the impact of large fishing vessels on coral reefs in Suva Harbor, and a video PSA on the dangers of pollution for coral reefs and the fishing industry.


Visit FijiReef, Conservation Connection’s digital hub to learn more about the program and the BioSynC Conservation Connection page.

BioSynC at ASIH

July 10, 2011

Beth Sanzenbacher and Joshua Drew attended the annual joint meeting of the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists in Minneapolis, MN. Sanzenbacher presented on “WhyReef: A Scientifically Accurate Digital Game Designed to Teach Youth About the Diversity and Ecology of Coral Reefs”. Drew presented on “Conservation Connection: using digital games and social media to teach coral reef biology and conservation across the Pacific”.

Click here for more information on BioSynC's digital outreach and education projects.

Games, Learning and Society 7.0

June 16, 2011


Audrey Aronowsky and Beth Sanzenbacher attended the 7th annual Games, Learning, and Society conference in Madison, WI. Aronowsky presented on “I’ll save the environment if its my summer break: civic action in WhyReef and the importance of program timing”. Sanzenbacher presented on “I Dig Brazil: a successful failure”. Both were co-authors on a third presentation “Real science in a virtual world: how youth use virtual data derived from gameplay to make scientifically accurate observations and arguments”.

Click here for more information on BioSynC's digital outreach and education projects.

2nd EOL Biodiversity Scavenger Hunts

May 26, 2011

BioSynC partnered with the Field Museum’s Education Department to run the 2nd EOL Biodiversity Scavenger Hunts during The Field Museum’s 60th annual Members Nights. These scavenger hunts challenged families to find specimens that highlighted the biodiversity of the Museums’ collections and to further learn about these specimens by exploring their EOL species page. The scavenger hunt drew more than 1,000 participants from 400 families.

Science@FMNH Series Launches!

May 22, 2011

BioSynC launched the Science@FMNH podcast and video series which details science behind-the-scenes at the Field Museum. Episodes with a taxonomic focus, such as those on bryophytes and ascomycete fungi will appear on EOL pages through the EOL Vimeo Group.

For more information visit the BioSynC Science@FMNH page, and to subscribe to the Science@FMNH video and podcast series visit Science@FMNH site.

BioSynC at IMCC

May 16, 2011

Beth Sanzenbacher and Joshua Drew attended the International Marine Conservation Congress in Victoria, BC. Sanzenbacher and Drew hosted a lunch workshop on digital outreach titled “Using digital education to enhance outreach and engage youth in marine conservation”.

Click here for more information on BioSynC's digital outreach and education projects.

Overfishing Perturbation in WhyReef

May 5, 2011

The South Reef in WhyReef was damaged by the 2nd ecosystem collapse caused by overfishing. The reef slowly changed in appearance and composition over a period of several weeks and when the reef was at its most degraded the "Save the Reef" activities were launched. Whyvillians were asked to identify the cause of the catastrophe and then to affect the state of the unhealthy reef. Whyvillians used the Reef Simulator module and their WhyReef EOL Journal to test their hypotheses about the reef perturbation and develop solutions that they could implement through civic action.

Conservation Connection Field Trips

April 27, 2011

While Conservation Connection is a digital program, the teens in Chicago and Suva have also been experiencing the "real" to learn about coral reef biology and conservation through field trips and labs. These included a trip to the Suva Fish Market, fish dissections, DNA extractions, a trip to the Wild Reef Exhibit at the Shedd Aquarium, a trip to the Indiana Dunes National Lake Shore, and a snorkel trip to the Navakavu reefs. Check out all the video footage of these activities on FijiReef.

Latin School of Chicago Project Week

March 17, 2011

BioSynC hosted 11 students from the Latin School of Chicago for a week of biodiversity exploration and education. Mentored by Josh Drew and Anna Cabral, students used Education LifeDesks to produce a final project of EOL content. For more information see the Latin School Project Week site.

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