A web-​​based teaching game devel­oped by two North­eastern fac­ulty mem­bers in col­lab­o­ra­tion with a fac­ulty member at the Uni­ver­sity of Mass­a­chu­setts Amherst has won a 21st Cen­tury Learning Lab Award of $150,000 from the MacArthur Foundation.

The game, enti­tled NoxNoMore, is the brain­child of Asso­ciate Pro­fessor of Mar­keting Rosanna Garcia and Assis­tant Pro­fessor of Graphic Design and Inter­ac­tive Media Ann McDonald, both at North­eastern, and Song Gao, an assis­tant pro­fessor of trans­porta­tion engi­neering at the Uni­ver­sity of Massachusetts.

Theirs was one of 10 projects chosen for awards out of more than 800 inter­na­tional sub­mis­sions to the inno­v­a­tive dig­ital media and learning projects com­pe­ti­tion. The MacArthur Foun­da­tion cre­ated the pro­gram to help edu­ca­tors re-​​imagine learning for stu­dents immersed in dig­ital envi­ron­ments and social networks.

The con­cept behind NoxNoMore is grounded in research that indi­cates that people are more likely to change behav­iors and make envi­ron­men­tally friendly choices when the learning is linked to their own per­sonal expe­ri­ence. The game uses GPS data to teach stu­dents about the envi­ron­mental impact of their family’s trans­porta­tion choices. Players upload GPS-​​gathered per­sonal travel data and attempt to reduce carbon emis­sions and air pol­lu­tion in game play and real life through use of alter­na­tive fuel vehi­cles, public trans­porta­tion, con­sol­i­da­tion of trips, and walking or biking.

The goal is to edu­cate stu­dents of all ages about simple, everyday actions that they can take now to impact the envi­ron­ment tomorrow,” Garcia said. “Today’s kids will soon be making their own trans­porta­tion choices and those choices will include tomorrow’s alter­na­tive fuel vehicles.”

The pilot phase of the game project will be launched this fall. In 2011, mem­bers of the North­eastern Uni­ver­sity stu­dent group Husky Energy Action Team will bring a beta ver­sion of the game to middle school stu­dents as part of an envi­ron­mental sci­ence cur­riculum. Stu­dents will be encour­aged to involve their par­ents in gath­ering the GPS data and to influ­ence the family’s trans­porta­tion decisions.

Uti­lizing in-​​game data visu­al­iza­tion and par­tic­i­pa­tory chal­lenges, NoxNoMore will give kids cre­ative ways to con­sider the pros and cons of their actions and take steps to help their family and friends make mean­ingful changes,” said McDonald.

The MacArthur Foun­da­tion dig­ital and learning ini­tia­tive looks at how young people learn, play, socialize and par­tic­i­pate in civic life, and how dig­ital tech­nology affects their behavior.