2014 Annual Science Report

Massachusetts Institute of Technology Reporting  |  SEP 2013 – DEC 2014

EPO Activity: Earth in 60 Seconds App

Project Progress

“In collaboration with the non-profit mobile software company Better World Coding, MIT team member Benjamin Kotrc has been working on the development of 'Earth in 60 Seconds’, an iPad game about geological time and the history of life on Earth. The game has been available in the iTunes App Store since July 2014 and, as of December 2014, has seen 1,600 rounds played with an average of 63 monthly active users. (Figure 1 – caption: ““App icon for the Earth in 60 Seconds iPad game”“)

The game is designed to allow players to develop an intuitive understanding of the relative timing of major events in the history of life on Earth, and the vastness of geological time. In the game, a 60-second countdown represents the entire 4.6 billion of Earth’s history. Players see a short list of events (such as the formation of the oceans, evolution of animals, and extinction of dinosaurs) and must tap a button at the time they think each event happened. (Figure 2 – caption: ““The game compresses 4.6 billion years of Earth history into a single minute, challenging players to identify when major events (like the extinction of dinosaurs) happened. Players can compete against each other for the best score and follow links to learn more about each event.”“)

A multiplayer version of the app, which remains under development in partnership with the MIT Museum, will allow for this game to be deployed in a booth at outreach events (such as the Cambridge Science Festival and Science on the Streets). In this version, players will watch the countdown on a big screen and trigger their guesses on individual iPod controllers. “