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Planet Arcade: NOAA makes science education fun

Speed read
  • Online science game portal introduces children to the joy of discovery
  • Games are created by the leading national science agencies
  • Science education is vital for a functioning democracy

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) knows the future belongs to the tiniest among us. They also know that educational research shows that a story combined with a challenge to overcome improves a child's learning experiences. 

To enhance the appeal and reach of this vital science education, NOAA is hosting Planet Arcade, a portal to more than two dozen interactive educational science games.

Created  by the Environmental Protection Agency, National Geographic, Public Broadcasting Service, and others, these games encourages youngsters to learn more about environmental conservation, severe weather, ocean life, and more — and to have some fun in the process. 

<strong>Head in the clouds. </strong>The NOVA Labs games hosted in NOAA's Planet Arcade illustrate key concepts with engaging and informative videos that guide participants as they answer scientific questions or design solutions to current problems. Courtesy NOAA; NOVA Labs.

Challenges in the NOAA games include preparing your house for a hurricane, helping a sea turtle avoid fishing boats and make it to her nesting site, investigating clouds, testing community energy configurations, removing trash from an estuary, and much, much more.

Many games include a resource guide for educators with suggestions for incorporating the games into classroom discussions and larger lessons. Additional information for how to take real-world action on behalf of the causes is also illustrated in the games.

Up in the clouds

One game users can play is Cloud Lab, which is provided by the PBS program “Nova.” Users select different pictures of clouds and classify them according to type. In another section, they watch videos and answer quesitons on a variety of cloud-related topics.

The lab is just one of several online labs that NOVA sponsors on its website. Also included are a Sun Lab, an Energy Lab, and a Cybersecurity Lab, among others. They are a lively, interactive way for students to learn about different scientific topics. 

<strong>Dive in!</strong> In 'Waterlife: Where Rivers Meet the Sea,' players team up with Oscar the otter and learn about the factors that produce healthy estuaries, food webs, and why estuaries are essential to both ocean life and to humans. Courtesy NOAA.

Ocean adventure

Meet Oscar. He’s a loving husband and father with a big appetite and a snarky sense of humor. He’s also an otter. The estuary he lives in has become polluted and he’s set out on a quest to clean up his home — But he needs your help!

By playing "Waterlife: Where Rivers Meet the Sea," children will be introduced to science-based educational concepts. By learning what they can do to help estuaries, tidal areas, and overall water quality, students gain a basic marine literacy.

NOAA knows that a science education is an important element for ensuring individual liberty, and provides the tools to enable the next generation to secure and improve their world.

So if you know a child (of any age, really) who could benefit from some science fun, have them visit NOAA's online science game portal. 

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