Does Zoomy Global Warming Newsreader make reading the news fun?

by Franke James

One of our challenges as online interactive content and game designers is finding ways to inject fun into serious topics. Can reading news about Global Warming be made into something fun and entertaining? Something you’d want to do every day?

Test out our “Zoomy Global Warming Newsreader” and let us know what you think.

Our flash newsreader lets viewers ‘swim’ through 100 green news stories each day. The idea is to click on a headline as it zooms by. Then a small screen opens up which links to the original article. As you’ll quickly discover, it’s a bit of a game to read them. Some of them fly away just when you thought you had them. (Mouse Tip: Blue brings the headline closer. When it’s highlighted to Red, you can click on it and read the related story.) We think it injects some fun into a serious topic. But the proof will be in the pudding — I sent it off to a teacher and she’s going to test it with her class

Send us your feedback.

Speaking of fun ways to catch kids imaginations —

In a previous blog post I wrote about Google’s Student Speakout project which invited teachers and students to use Google Docs & Spreadsheets collaborative software to brainstorm strategies for combating global warming. Children from more than 80 schools around the world participated, and on November 27th Google took out a full-page ad in USA Today to put their ideas in the spotlight. Here are the students top 50 ideas:

  • Include global warming/climate change in school curricula (as part of National Science Standards), so when the students are in charge they can make educated decisions.
  • Increase availability of low-interest Energy Efficient Mortgages to support homeowners who increase the energy efficiency of their homes.
  • Put light sensors in all office and school buildings so all lights go off when the rooms are empty.
  • Require that all products contributing to global warming be marked with a specific color (e.g., chemical pesticides could be marked with a red sticker for being extremely dangerous to the environment).
  • Use less paper; use the back of the paper to print on or write on; use recyled paper.
  • Plant more trees to reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
  • Teach recycling techniques in classes and school-wide programs.
  • Make recycling mandatory in all public facilities, such as schools, parks and beaches.
  • Do public service announcements on TV featuring celebrities promoting carpooling, walking, riding bikes, using public transportation, conserving electricity and recycling.
  • Give grants and tax credits to companies that invest in alternative, sustainable, emission-free fuel technologies while ending such subsidies for fosssil fuel production.
  • The media should conduct interviews of legislators to help the public become aware of their ability and willingness to help solve the problem.
  • Replace incandescence light bulbs with fluorescence light bulbs.
  • Restrict the use of chemical fertilizer in agriculture.
  • Provide incentives and policies to encourage car makers to make more fuel efficient cars.
  • Protect wetlands and preserve more open space.
  • Provide tax incentives for regular recyclers and car poolers.
  • Use solar panels in the construction of new homes and office buildings.
  • Substitute local community transportation fleets with hybrid vehicles.
  • Require that car dealers hand out fact sheets that inform car buyers about the pollution levels of different cars.
  • Send scientists to talk about global warming in schools. They can bring hands-on activities so students feel more involved.
  • Unplug all electronics from the wall when they’re not in use.
  • Have another Global Warming Student Speakout in one year – to see if any of these ideas have been implemented.
  • Raise mandatory emissions standards for cars and other vehicles sold in the US.
  • Use solar power in the day and use electricity at night when needed.
  • Give tax rebates for using solar power.
  • Congress should ratify the Kyoto Agreement.
  • Establish off-shore wind farms – saves land space and produces reliable power.
  • Levy higher taxes on companies that pollute the air.
  • Wait until you have a lot of clothes to wash before using the washing machine.
  • Provide tax incentives for companies that create Hybrid cars. That will reduce the need for oil.
  • Schools and businesses should be fined for not having recycling bins available to the people on their premises.
  • The media should tell us about what is really going on with global warming. We don’t think that we have all the information we need.
  • At the end of the weather forecast, report “CO2 emissions levels today�” or comparative average temperatures (i.e., this year’s temperature as it compares to the past several years).
  • Lead by example and convert 50% of government vehicles to environmentally friendly cars by the year 2020.
  • Place recycling bins throughout the city wherever there is a trash can.
  • Require companies to limit the amount of packaging an item can have and it must be recyclable.
  • Block bills that cause more damage to the environment.
  • Media could reduce advertising costs for alternative energy products to inform and increase sales in these areas.
  • Keep your tires fully inflated to improve gas mileage.
  • Replace old appliances with Energy Star appliances.
  • Promote awareness of local recycling centers.
  • Require college and high school students to take a global warming class.
  • Give tax reductions to public transportation users.
  • Protect our oceans – prevent plankton in the ocean from dying.
  • People running for elections should use email, radio and other media to campaign and stop using so many paper signs and flyers that use up our natural resources and then get left out and become pollution.
  • Reuse newspapers as wrapping paper for gifts.
  • Enforce laws about littering.
  • Use less electricity, turn off the TV, read books, walk, run, bike, surf, play tennis.
  • Business should require employees to telecommute several days a week.
  • Provide scientists appropriate resources to help them research the future of energy and the freedom to explore innovative ideas.

Read the full article and background info here.

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