PI: David A. Fike (Washington University in St. Louis)
Co-I: Jennifer L. Houghton (Washington University in St. Louis)
Amount: $48,185.52
Award Dates: May 1, 2012 — October 31, 2014


Scientific outreach efforts tend to be unidirectional, with information moving from the scientist to the public. We have created an interactive interface that allows the public to directly participate in the process of scientific discovery. The interface is based on a 2D solute transport model that incorporates microbial kinetics to simulate biogeochemical processes in subsurface marine environments. Users can populate the subsurface with microbes chosen from our database that provides the kinetic parameters used in the model. Each step in the simulation is accompanied by imbedded in-depth information, visual displays of 2D change in parameters in real-time, and the ability to interrogate results in 2D. Access to the microbial database can be granted to other PIs to interrogate and sort the information available. The game will initially be tested in 7-12 grade biology, chemistry, environmental science, and statistics classes. Example lesson plans will be posted on an ongoing blog/wiki resource that can also inform undergraduate teaching strategies. A reciprocal benefit to scientists will be an infusion of creative, testable scenarios ranging from novel consortium interactions to user-created hypothetical microbes that lead to the discovery of new species.