Dive in and see with sound! Experience Echo Earth at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History

Echo Earth at the Smithsonian’s 2017 ACCelerate Festival

Echo Earth was selected for exhibition at the 2017 ACCelerate Creativity and Innovation Festival at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C., from October 13-15, 2017.

The festival is a celebration of creative exploration and research happening across the ACC at the nexus of science, engineering, arts and design (SEAD). It is an opportunity for all ACC schools to showcase their work to each other, potential ACC students and their parents, alumni, companies, legislators, and invited guests from the nation’s capital.


About Echo Earth

Echo Earth Experience (EEE) is a virtual reality (VR) experience, which simulates how marine mammals use echolocation to navigate underwater. Players transform into a beluga whale that uses echolocation as their main mechanism to navigate and search for food. This is a whimsical, experiential, simulation-based game where players must listen carefully and use echolocation to determine the direction of their food source.

EEE was originally conceived and created during the 2017 Global Game Jam at the University of Miami jam site by a team of University of Miami faculty and students and a Miami local. It was also was made with Unity and originally for Samsung Gear VR. Witness some of our 48-hour game jam journey here.

For more about Echo Earth, please visit echoearthexperience.com

Always be “Ready to Play” – notes from APA Florida Chapter 2015 workshop

Thank you to all participants who joined me today at the APA’s Florida Chapter conference. Today planners from around the state of Florida got together to experience the power of games to incite critical thinking and dialogue about real-world issues. These included new strategies for decision-making and planning in the face of potential environmental and systemic risks. The session included collaborative activities, with just a touch of competition, during which participants weighed available information/choices and possible outcomes as a means to generate dynamic discourse on challenges and solutions for real-world scenarios. We started the session playing Magnitude (all game files can be found at this link), followed by Building Up (modified from Fields of View‘s City Game) and ending with suggested tools and resources for running interactive sessions with peers and/or community members. I hope you are inspired to take what you saw today and modify/adapt them to your needs. If you need help or suggestions, please let me know. Below are the slides for your reference. I’ll also create time-lapse video(s) of the towns and will post them here soon!

Building Up activity

April 2 – Prevention, Intervention, and Action: The Colombian National Police and the Security of Children

General Salamanca Colombian youth

General Salamanca with Colombian youth

I am fortunate to be part of an interdisciplinary research team that is partnering with the Colombian National Police (CNP) on a game-based intervention, Por Nuestras Calles, addressing the commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC) in Colombia. More on that soon!

Related to our research efforts working with CNP, Brigadier General William Salamanca, Director of Protection and Special Services (DIPRO) for the Colombian National Police (CNP), will visit the University of Miami School of Communication’s Shoma Hall on April 2 at 1 p.m. to present on the issue of CSEC.

We hope to see you there!

Event Details
Prevention, Intervention, and Action: The Colombian National Police and the Security of Children
Date: Thursday, April 2, 2015 at 1:00pm (with reception to follow)
Location: University of Miami, School of Communication, Shoma Hall (CIB 3053)


The following event announcement appears on UM’s School of Communication website here.

Brigadier General William Salamanca, Director of Protection and Special Services (DIPRO) for the Colombian National Police (CNP), will visit the University of Miami School of Communication’s Shoma Hall on April 2 at 1 p.m. to present on the issue of commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC). His presentation, titledPrevention, Intervention, and Action: The Colombian National Police and the Security of Children will highlight CNP’s existing effort and the organization’s introduction of creative methods to tackle critical societal issues that affect the country’s most vulnerable – its children.  The presentation will be followed by a Q&A session. This event is sponsored by UM’s Center for Communication, Culture, and Change, UM’s School of Nursing and Health Studies, El Centro, Miami Consortium for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, and UM’s Miller School of Medicine.

This presentation will also highlight a project employing creative methodologies for the prevention of CSEC. Por Nuestras Calles, funded by the Miami Consortium for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, brings together a multidisciplinary team comprised of: Lien Tran, assistant professor of interactive media, and Jessica Wendorf, doctoral student, both from UM’s School of Communication, Maria Elena Villar, associate professor at FIU’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication, and the Colombian National Police. Together, the team has developed an experiential intervention that targets the reduction of the stigmatization of victims and the tolerance of CSEC by community members.

“It’s been a wonderful experience to work with Brigadier General Salamanca and the Colombian National Police on this project. Not only because of the incredible infrastructure they provide being a national organization, but also, and perhaps most importantly, because of their great disposition and willingness to engage in a meaningful way,” says Wendorf.

General Salamanca has more than 30 years of service and has received in excess of 65 medals for his efforts in security and protection. In his current role, he is responsible for directing the work of 13,000 men and women throughout Colombia in leading the implementation of strategy to prevent and combat CSEC. Under his leadership, significant efforts have been made, resulting in the capture of individuals who violate the rights of children, neutralizing organizations dedicated to CSEC and ensuring the restoration of rights and protection of children.

“Our team is thankful for this unique opportunity to work with the Colombian National Police and to address an issue as important as CSEC. It’s always a challenge to translate all the rich data and research we’ve collected, including personal conversations with organizations and individuals affected by CSEC, into an engaging and genuine experience. It’s a testament to our research team and partners that we’ve been able to strike the right balance between what could be a harsh reality and the positive message we want to spread about the importance of protecting the children of Colombia and taking a stance against this unjust exploitation,” says Tran.

The team of Miami researchers traveled to Colombia and worked alongside the police to identify potential vulnerabilities, key barriers, and possible entry points for CSEC, leading to the creation of PNC, a role-playing game in which participants are invited to take on the character of a child vulnerable to commercial sexual exploitation. By situating game players as susceptible children, participants are able to experience some of the systematic barriers of inequality, risk and possible exposure to commercial sexual exploitation. Those who play the game have an augmented awareness of CSEC, thus increasing the likelihood CSEC will be reported to authorities.

“This project represents a genuine academic-community collaboration at the international level,” says Villar.

General Salamanca at the University of Miami event poster (April 2, 2015)

CGIU 2015 // Grow 2.0: Advancing the Small-Scale Farmer

Thank you to the organizers of the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGIU 2015) for inviting me to join such amazing company at this year’s meeting. Held at the University of Miami’s new Student Activities Center, CGIU 2015 kicked off with a two-day Codeathon on March 5-6 that included UM MFA in Interactive Media students Kelsey Kjeldsen and Sevika Singh’s climate games for South Florida preparedness CGI Commitment.

The main event then kicked off with an open plenary session on March 6, 2015, with Dr. Chelsea Clinton and President Bill Clinton and UM’s own Donna Shalala, who will be ending her tenure at UM and will be heading up the Clinton Foundation as its new president at the end of this academic year.

As moderator of “Grow 2.0: Advancing the Small-Scale Farmer” on March 7, I had the pleasure of first honoring two previous CGI Commitments from students at University of Colorado at Boulder and TEI Crete. I then used my international field experience as a lens to guide both questions and advice from a diverse set of panelists on considerations for how committed students could do their part to help advance small-scale farmers. And not just (or necessarily) with technology – basic resources and information go a long way. Also working closely with the community and having their support is critical to success, lessons I have taken to heart with all my own community-based, humanitarian design efforts. Thank you to Timote, Ryan, and Loretta for engaging these highly motivated and devoted students and advising them to push forward their incredible commitments to alleviate poverty globally.

Grow 2.0 Panelists:


Photo Credit: Paul Morse / Clinton Global Initiative

Join the Field Innovation Team at University of Miami for the first Miami DO Tank, February 5, 2015

I’ve teamed up with the Field Innovation Team (FIT) to run the first ever Miami DO Tank on February 5, 2015, at the University of Miami’s Student Activities Center. Living in South Florida, the detrimental effects of climate change may be inevitable in our lifetime. Co-sponsored by University of Miami’s Center for Communication, Culture, and Change (4C) and FIT, Miami Do Tank will demonstrate how gaming can move communities to prepare and become more resilient to the impact of rising sea levels.

Please join us to learn how gaming can move communities to prepare and become more resilient to climate change impacts. We will play two exciting scientifically constructed games, including Magnitude, to demonstrate this concept. Tying in these games, we will explain the 6-step design-thinking process. We will train participants on how to use this methodology to create rapid, innovative solutions for addressing the challenges of rising sea levels.

Come the University of Miami to meet with other concerned leaders, experts, and researchers on climate change. Play the scientifically created games and find out where they are available as an open source resource.

Miami DO Tank
Thursday, February 5, 2015 (9am – 4pm)
University of Miami, Student Activities Center (North & South rooms)
Coral Gables, FL

For event information and RSVP, please visit: http://goo.gl/TQ1mJj

Good news, students can attend for free by sending an email to Miami DO Tank at info@fieldinnovationteam.org.

General Agenda

  • 9:00 am – Welcome
  • 9:15 am – “What are Miami and South Florida’s most pressing challenges?” discussion
  • 9:45 am –  Intro to FIT’s design-thinking process and goals for the day
  • 10:05 am – Break
  • 10:15 am – Steps 1 + 2 of design-thinking process: “Understand & Observe”
  • 10:45 am – Rapid sharing on “Understand & Observe”
  • 11:00 am – Play REStrukt game
  • 12:00 pm – Lunch
  • 1:00 pm – Score REStrukt
  • 1:30 pm – Break
  • 1:40 pm – Play Magnitude game
  • 2:40 pm – Break
  • 2:50 pm – Magnitude debrief; Steps 3 + 4 of design-thinking process: “Define & Ideate”
  • 3:45 pm – Wrap up

The Field Innovation Team is a 501(c)3 that responds to crises while simultaneously working on disaster preparedness and disaster risk reduction at local, state, national, and international levels. FIT’s mission is “Innovating real-time in disasters.” The Miami DO Tank is a short program that helps communities by mobilizing actors and organizations within South Florida to support theexpected outcome of the United Nations Hyogo Framework for Action 2005 – 2015, a 10-year plan to make the world safer from natural hazards.

The Center for Communication, Culture and Change focuses on using communication for social and behavioral change through engaged scholarship and immersive experience. Seeking to address urgent societal issues while making a positive difference in people’s lives, the Center is particularly focused on Latin America and its Miami diaspora.


This information also appears on UM’s School of Communication website.