The Norman Transcript

University

June 9, 2014

Weather app puts kids in pilot seat

NORMAN — Kids growing up in Tornado Alley are used to bright, splotchy radar patterns moving across a television screen, and most know the difference between a tornado watch and warning. But do they understand how to read and predict the weather based on radar images and forecasts?

Students at the University of Oklahoma’s College of Engineering wanted to remove the mystery around weather forecasting by speaking to kids in a language they could better understand — gaming. Collaborating with the School of Meteorology, OU students created an app that teaches kids about weather patterns by putting them in the pilot seat to navigate a plane during weather events. The game encourages kids to see meteorology as a problem-solving tool rather than just a segment of the evening news.

With funding from a more than $600,000 National Science Foundation grant, Amy McGovern, OU associate professor of computer science and adjunct associate professor of meteorology, and engineering students Andrea Balfour, David Harrison and Marissa Beene created Storm Evader, an iPad app aimed at elementary and middle school students. The app challenges players to route airplanes from one U.S. airport to another while avoiding pitfalls like difficult weather patterns and long routes that waste fuel.

The app features two modes of game play — free play and career play. In free play mode, players fly their planes during actual recorded severe weather events, including the widest tornado documented in history in El Reno on May 31, 2013. In career mode, players are encouraged to delve deeper by researching weather forecasts before deciding the safest route for their planes. In both modes, players can give control to the computer to help find the best route to the correct airport.

“We want to teach kids about weather in a fun and interactive way,” said Harrison, a sophomore majoring in meteorology with a minor in computer science. “In Storm Evader kids see how weather forecasting and radar works in real-life and can actually solve problems.”

Text Only | Photo Reprints
University
  • Solar cars 7 Solar cars use Norman area during pit stop

    Flat, low to the ground with reflective panels and bright colors, these moving vehicles look more like cartoon spaceships than solar race cars. But these funny looking cars represent exactly what the American Solar Challenge (ASC) ...

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Digital storytelling workshop to help tornado victims

    Looking for ways to make use of the University of Oklahoma Writing Center’s services in the community, the center has developed the digital storytelling workshop “Survivors in Motion” to help last year’s tornadoes survivors....

    July 16, 2014

  • Free concert to feature Corey Smith

    Corey Smith, born and raised in Jefferson, Ga., will heat up the summer scene with a free concert at 8 p.m. on July 18 at the University of Oklahoma....

    July 11, 2014

  • OU showcases family treasures exhibit

    An exhibit consisting of 12 panels with the best practices on how to care for items — including textiles and recordings such as cassettes and family videos — is on display through July 10 in Beaird Lounge on the second floor of Oklahoma ...

    July 9, 2014

  • Sam Noble Museum awarded reaccreditation

    The American Alliance of Museums in Washington D.C. awarded the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History reaccreditation in 2014 for the fourth consecutive time. Accreditation offers a wide variety of benefits, including increased ...

    July 5, 2014

  • Emotional Brain set as July’s Neuro Night Forum topic

    Improving neurological health through education, research and access to care will be the topic of July’s Neuro Night forum at 6 p.m. July 15 at the Fountains at Canterbury, 1404 N.W. 122nd St. A light dinner will be served at 5:30 p.m....

    July 2, 2014

  • Foundation makes $500,000 gift in support of OU libraries

    University of Oklahoma President David L. Boren announced at the OU Board of Regents meeting that The Helmerich Foundation of Tulsa will make a $500,000 gift in support of the renovation of a floor in the Neustadt Wing of Bizzell Memorial ...

    June 25, 2014

  • OU plans to construct new residential college housing

    University of Oklahoma President David L. Boren announced on Monday that planning is underway for new residential colleges for upperclassmen and women....

    June 24, 2014

  • Design phase underway at OU for $12 million shelters

    University of Oklahoma President David L. Boren announced on Monday that MA Plus, which was selected to design OU tornado shelters, is nearing completion of planning for $12 million tornado shelters at OU. The project is an expansion of ...

    June 24, 2014

  • OU law students support classmate with fundraiser

    Inspired by one of their classmates who is battling breast cancer for the third time, first year summer law students at the University of Oklahoma College of Law committed to public service by raising money for the Stephenson Cancer ...

    June 24, 2014