There are apps for pretty much everything these days, so is it really any surprise that apps exist that can teach you about the lifespan of jellyfish or how coral defends itself against predators?
In 2014, five high schools and one junior high school partnered with students from UNO’s College of Information Science & Technology to provide fun and educational mobile games that could be utilized by Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo.
“The zoo is one of Omaha’s biggest attractions, and we had been looking for ways to collaborate, especially in the STEM arena,” says Zac Fowler, IT outreach coordinator for the College of IS&T.
Two of the projects, “Coral Combat” and “Jumpin’ Jellyfish,” examined some of the ocean’s most popular lifeforms.
In Coral Combat, designed by five students from Gretna High School, users act as a piece of coral that needs to defend itself against predators. Enemies spawn randomly so it’s up to the user to fight the enemies using the coral’s natural defenses.
Jumpin’ Jellyfish, designed by Papillion Junior High School students, users tap the screen as fast and as many times as they can to get a jellyfish as high as it can go in the ocean. Reaching goals unlocks a variety of jellyfish facts.
More information about these and other apps is available at zoo.ist.unomaha.edu/final-projects.
“The students had to learn and practice technical communication and presenting their ideas,” Fowler says.
“They spent a lot of time with zoo staff getting feedback on their work.” UNO’s IS&T students guided the student groups throughout the process.
“Our IS&T students were able to work out some pretty challenging technical concepts with the groups,” Fowler says. “One group learned how to make HTTP calls to store and retrieve messages from the Internet, while another group learned how to manage crowd-sourced data to indicate how active an animal exhibit may be at any given time.”