articles written by eco hero members
TACKLING GLOBAL WARMING WITH AN ONLINE CHESS GAME
Hello, we are the Eco Hero team. We are a team of middle schoolers enthusiastic about coding and working towards raising awareness of global warming and pollution. Thanks to ACF, we have been able to get together as a team and work on something we are passionate about. The project we are currently working on is a modified version of chess. While it will be the same as chess in most aspects, our project has several key differences. Notable differences are how the pieces move, the way the pieces look, and what pieces you start with. We intend to change the pieces’ appearances to reflect species in real life, based on where the player is at. For example, a player from Siberia will see polar bears, huskies, and wild deer, while a player from Egypt will see crocodiles, camels, and lizards. Similarly, the opponent’s pieces could appear as an invasive species in the area. This is based on where the player is at. By doing so, our game will form a connection with the environment, and our players will learn about our planet’s issues.
There were many challenges we encountered and had to overcome within the past few months. In the beginning, none of us really knew each other, and we were quite shy about contributing to the discussions. But after a few weeks, we got used to each other, and thanks to the help of our two ACF coaches, we were able to stay productive and get through our meetings. We will continue working hard on our project and provide regular updates. Stay tuned!
WHAT IS THE CONNECTION?
A couple of months ago, the Eco Hero team started to brainstorm ideas on how we could solve current issues that revolved around the environment. What we had in mind was a game that was easily accessible and not too different so that no one would know how to play. We spent a few weeks deciding what we should create and how it should be done. The main goal was to raise awareness of global warming and pollution (the main problems we wanted to help solve).
When we decided to make a chess game about the environment, we began to brainstorm about how we could connect the game to the current problems. At first, our idea included having pop-up facts about the environment appear on the sides or having the chess pieces appear as endangered animals. However, we needed more ideas on top of the ones we initially thought of. Before we started the Eco Hero Project, we drafted a plan on how the game and website should be made. We agreed that before releasing a completed version of the game, we would build a community first to interact and receive ideas. Jarron, one of our members, created a Google Form that asked others what they think would be a good idea to add to our game. From this form, we got many great ideas such as having the enemy pieces appear as garbage or something that you need to clean. Another idea included having the chessboard appear as the Earth because pollution and global warming were issues that affected the entire world. Another source of ideas was our advisor, Ms. Liz Taylor. Many weeks into our project, we gave a presentation to a potential advisor for our project. Ms. Taylor gave us many great ideas along with educating us more about how the environment was being damaged. One idea that we received from Ms. Taylor was to localize the issue. We realized that people would be more willing to help make a change if the issue affected them more directly. We decided to do this by using the user’s IP address to change the layout of the map depending on their location. There would also be a change of facts and questions to make the player know what was going on in their region. This would most likely increase the chances of the person taking action or considering doing so. All of the ideas that we received were stored on a document and would be taken into consideration when the time comes to start environment integration.
Integrating our game with the environment is a very important part of this project. After all, it is our main focus to raise awareness. In addition to getting ideas from our advisors and audience, we continue researching more environmental facts and problems to integrate into the game.
ECO HERO WITH MRS. TAYLOR
Our trip to meet our very first advisor was very thrilling. The planning was very complicated as well but meeting Ms.Taylor and the whole trip was so delightful. Our first job meeting her was to actually plan the trip. Since everyone in the team had summer camps and complex schedules, it was hard to find an open schedule that everyone had including Ms. Taylor. Once we found an open time when everybody could go, we asked Ms. Taylor and she confirmed as well.
While touring Mrs. Taylor’s facility at DOER Marine, we saw many sophisticated-looking tools and marine vehicles. The first thing we saw was a prototype marine vehicle(submersible), designed to collect samples of animals and plants and bring them to the surface. She also explained to us the capabilities of the robot. Nearby, there was what looked like a shipping container with two openings on either side. Mrs. Taylor explained to us that it was a control station for the robot. Everything that was required for driving and manipulating it underwater was inside the container.
The next part of the tour was the machine shop. She showed us all the machines used to create the parts for the robots. One of the most exciting things we saw at the machine shop was a metal tub-looking part made to house the main motor of the robot. Mrs. Taylor explained to us that the metal tub used to be one solid metal block, then carved out to create the shape. Similarly, the aluminum propellers used to be solid metal blocks as well carved out to create the shape of the propeller. Overall, the tour was an enlightening experience for the team, learning about the process and steps taken to put together a functioning marine vehicle.
After the tour of the workshop, Mrs. Taylor allowed us to have a Q&A session in the gift shop. Each of us asked questions about how our project could be improved. For instance, we asked how our game could be further integrated with the environment. For an answer, Mrs. Taylor provided more information on how marine ecosystems begun to be damaged by microplastics. After learning about this, we found another topic to address in our project. Another question was if the current way of having facts on the side would be an effective way to address the issue that we were trying to help. In response, Mrs. Taylor told us that having the users be more engaged would effectively raise awareness. A way to do this would be constant blog articles being written and uploaded or having different sorts of environmental integration added from time to time. Our last question was about how to promote our project. Mrs. Taylor’s response to this was to have friends or family members who were willing to support and play her game. Another way to promote would be to pitch out to different influencers or continue gaining advisors so we can publicize ourselves and acquire more ideas.
Using our chess game, we especially hope to educate the younger generation about the environmental issues in the world today. Since adults should already know of the problems, informing children about the problems and how to take action is a priority. She ended with an inspirational quote: “The whole world is a chess game. You have to think several steps ahead of your moves.”