July 2, 2019

Serious Fun—PNNL VR App Wins International Award

Network Collapse recognized for educational excellence in STEM

Network Collapse team

Network Collapse development team members (L to R) Cameron Tynes, Russ Burtner, and Ann Wright-Mockler demoed the VR app at the STEM Showcase on May 28 in Sequim, Washington.

Network Collapse, a virtual reality (VR) science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) app developed by PNNL researchers, has won a Gold Award from the 2019 International Serious Play Awards.

The award-winning app, born of a collaboration between PNNL’s Office of STEM Education and National Security Directorate’s (NSD’s) Visual Analytics group, is an experiential game that instructs users (i.e., K-12 students) about concepts included in the Computer Science Teachers Association K-12 Computer Science Standards. 

Using VR to explain the web

Through six progressively difficult levels, Network Collapse models how information transmitted over internet networks is first broken down into smaller pieces, or packets, and is then shuffled through several devices before being put back together at its destination. The app also illustrates how malware and other viruses can impact sensitive data, how security measures protect information, and how network features such as routers, switches, and topology are interrelated. 

See what game play is like here.

Serious Play Conference takes Network Collapse seriously

The annual Serious Play Conference, now in its 8th year, is a gathering of professionals invested in a future where games are and will revolutionize learning. Conference speakers from around the world discuss experiences and offer suggestions about developing the role of game-based programs in educational settings, including corporate, classroom, medical, government, and military curricula.

The conference internationally honors exceptional games used in educational and training environments.

VR and the next generation of STEM professionals

With its focus on computational science literacy and education, Network Collapse is well-suited to help further PNNL’s goal of fostering STEM interest and learning. Its design can also help facilitate an all-inclusive STEM culture by opening learning doors for students in rural or underserved areas.

PNNL staff are already actively promoting the benefits of Network Collapse. Development team members Ann Wright-Mockler (STEM Education), Russ Burtner (NSD), and Cameron Tynes (NSD) demo'd their creation at the STEM Showcase on May 28 in Sequim, Wash. The event amplified PNNL STEM resources and technologies available to students, teachers, and school district staff; the goal is to provide the community with tools to help inspire and prepare students to pursue STEM careers.

Outside organizations have recently expressed interest in partnering with PNNL over Network Collapse.  

The Network Collapse development and project team also includes NSD’s Nick Cramer, Dan Sanner, David McKinnon, Penny McKenzie, Sierra Maple (intern), and STEM Education’s Evangelina Shreeve and Jennifer Knotts.

The game has been optimized for the Oculus Go, a new VR headset that is used in schools. 

Network Collapse is now live on the Oculus Go app store.


About PNNL

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory draws on its distinguishing strengths in chemistry, Earth sciences, biology and data science to advance scientific knowledge and address challenges in sustainable energy and national security. Founded in 1965, PNNL is operated by Battelle for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, which is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States. DOE’s Office of Science is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit https://www.energy.gov/science/. For more information on PNNL, visit PNNL's News Center. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.