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Saving the Estuaries through Software Development

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​The Guana Tolomato Matanzas, Mission-Aransas​, and Delaware Reserves​ will partner with the University of Delaware to produce gesture controlled, educational computer games that promote interactive, free-choice learning opportunities within the National Estuarine Research Reserve System. The experiential games will be designed for use on interactive screens that will be available for public use in each Reserve’s exhibit hall. Participants will be able to freely navigate through different experiences that will provide them with a better understanding that the estuary is a dynamic place upon which plants, animals, and people depend and everyone plays a part in shaping the past and protecting the future. Development of the educational games will be completed by University of Delaware undergraduate students. This supports the education mission of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, in its effort to develop a highly skilled future workforce that pursues science, technology, engineering, and/or math-related careers. To increase and demonstrate transferability of this project to other Reserves, the underlying framework and information driving game play will remain similar among all three Reserves. Ultimately, this project will provide our communities with relevant, accessible science while providing civic-minded solutions and resources encouraging participants to take conservation-based action, whether on the individual, family, community, or regional scale that promote ecosystem resiliency.

About the Presenters

Maggie Pletta

Education Coordinator, DNERR

Maggie Pletta holds a B.S. in Environmental Restoration and Management, with a focus on wetland habitats from the University of Maryland College Park. She is the current Education Coordinator at the Delaware National Estuarine Research Reserve (DNERR) where she is tasked with managing and leading K-12 fieldtrips and outreach, public programs, family events, and teacher professional development workshops.  Prior to her position at DNERR she held positions at the National Park Service, NASA, Educational Non-Profits, and DNREC’s Wetland Monitoring and Assessment Program.  Her professional areas of interest include teaching people about estuaries and climate change, as well as  reconnecting children with nature, and making science fun for all ages.

​​Terry Harvey

Associate Professor, Computer Science

Terry is an Associate Professor or Computer Science. In addition to teaching standard CS courses, Terry runs: a course that sends undergraduates into local G5-8 schools to assist and teach Computer Science through the NSF-sponsored Partner4CS program; summer PD for Computer Science Principles with Partner4CS; a Problem-based Learning course writing educational games with G5-8 teachers/students as clients; and a collaborative Art/CS course developing games for local non-profits (most recently DNREC). Terry received the Faculty Senate's University Excellence in Teaching Award in 2009.

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