Flo: The Watershed Project

Flo: The Watershed Project

Date posted: 2013-04-11 15:17:26

Ever wonder how rainfall becomes drinking water?  Flo: The Watershed Project, a new game simulation by Rensselaer students directed by Professor of Arts Kathleen Ruiz, lets you experience the journey for yourself—and gives you a unique, memorable perspective on this vital process!

Flo: The Watershed Project is an artistic, scientific and educational game simulation designed to inspire awareness of the importance of clean water and call attention to the causes of climate change, the impact of flooding, and the need for sustainable practices in the New York City Watershed.

Inspired by Prof. Ruiz’s fieldwork, Flo was created in Unity 3D by a team of RPI students led by senior Evan Minto.  Using the Kinect interface, players direct a water droplet’s journey from its “birth” as rain over the mountains of New York State, through saturated soil into high-gradient streams and stream riffles, past native riparian buffers into the vast network of creeks and rivers into reservoirs, through tunnels and aqueducts to finally arrive at the water faucets of New York City!  Players seek opportunities for sustainable and eco-friendly practices and to avoid dangers such as floods, sediment, development impacts, and farm pollutants.

Prof Ruiz hopes the first-person perspective will allow users to form not just a scientific connection to the water, but also an emotional one.

"We want education to be fun," Ruiz said. "We almost want it to be visceral."

Flo was recently presented to a group of elementary-school children in Olivebridge, New York, near the Ashokan Reservoir that supplies New York City.  The project was funded by the Watershed Agricultural Council, the Catskill Watershed Corporation, and The United States Forest Service.

To learn more and to play Flo, please visit:  http://watershed.hass.rpi.edu/

To see recent articles about Flo, click here and here

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