BYU students launch ‘DUST’ alternate reality game


“DUST” is a virtual reality game that challenges youth to apply STEM principles to save the world. (“DUST” website)

A team of more than 40 BYU undergrad students celebrated the launch of “DUST” Monday, Jan. 26. “DUST” is an alternate learning game that encourages application of scientific principles to advance teen learning and engagement in education.

The game is designed for teenagers ages 13–17 as they embark on a mission to save their parents’ lives from dust clouds produced by a meteor shower that will knock out all the adults.

The participants use a combination of mobile apps, social media and websites in order to participate alongside other teenagers and fictional characters from all over the world.

Funded by a $2 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF), “DUST” encourages learning and applying STEM principles (science, technology, engineering and math). BYU has worked together with the University of Maryland, NASA and middle schools from across the country to put together the app.

Concept art from the “DUST” website. This game enlists the help of teenagers to save their parents and the world. (“DUST” website)

According to the “DUST” website, the NSF said, “By using the scientific process to solve problems teens confidence will grow in their ability to use STEM. Play games and get A’s on your science and math classes? Sounds like a good deal.”

BYU students are hopeful that this game will break through the declining levels of interest in STEM principles among the current generation of teenagers.

The “DUST” Twitter page continues to generate excitement for the app through one of its tweets that says, “What are you going to learn out there? We don’t know! That’s why we’re sending you on a mission.”

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