Mobile Computing | News

U Wisconsin Madison Students Learn About Sustainability with Mobile Game

Students in an introductory environmental studies course at the University of Wisconsin-Madison are playtesting a game on mobile devices to learn about sustainability on their campus.

The game, Sustainable U, features a time traveler who "shows players a bleak future for Madison unless they take action on environmental challenges," according to a university news release. To play, students pull up games, information or videos about sustainability topics by scanning a code on signs in campus buildings.

Designed with help from a Sustainability Innovation Research and Education grant from UW-Madison's Office of Sustainability, the goal of the game is to get students to see things in a new light.

"We want you to open your eyes and start seeing the things that may have gone unnoticed," said Sustainable U Designer David Gagnon as he introduced the app to a class, according to a news release.

Cathy Middlecamp, a professor in the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies whose students are using the game in her class, worked with Gagnon, John Martin from the Mobile Learning Incubator and Nelson Institute grad students Travis Blomberg and Tim Lindstrom "to link the technology with hands-on learning to better engage students," according to information released by the university.

"To help students learn topics in environmental science, I wanted to utilize things that were right here on our campus," said Middlecamp, in a prepared statement.

"After the playtest, every student commented that they had seen something new; whether it was a feature they pass by every day or a building they had never visited," said Blomberg, in a news release.

Following the pilot, the game will be refined and made available to anyone on campus with a mobile device.

More information about Sustainability U is available at

About the Author

Joshua Bolkan is contributing editor for Campus Technology, THE Journal and STEAM Universe. He can be reached at

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