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MITACS CASE STUDY: Bringing Gaming into Science Education 

MITACS CASE STUDY: Bringing gamification into science education 

Introduction: Mitacs is an ecosystem partner of Digital Alberta and will be a guest speaker in our upcoming webinar on CO-OP and INTERNSHIP FUNDING on March 15th, 2023. Digital Alberta will be featuring a series of MITACS’ case studies throughout the year. Stay tuned! How? Become a Digital Alberta Insider by signing up for updates! 

This tech-driven not-for-profit is gamifying education – but in a fast-growing industry with a shortage of skilled talent, building the right team requires an innovative solution

The world is rapidly expanding, and not just according to traditional metrics like population growth, market globalization, and space exploration. Every day, more and more aspects of life are moving into the digital realm. Digital tools built on data analytics, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and virtual reality are increasingly revolutionizing how we do business, deliver services, interact, and even how we learn.

Calgary-based not-for-profit Fluid Planet is on a mission to harness the power of these technologies to create an innovative game-based education platform.

The potential applications of this technology are wide-ranging and far-reaching. One sector where the company is currently working to deploy it, in partnership with environmental literacy charity Inside Education, is in Alberta’s grade school science curricula. Through the Fluid Planet platform, students can explore a virtual twin of the province’s diverse ecosystems and geographies to learn about the natural world.

“Our goal is to create a learning experience that truly engages young people,” says Pigat. “And what better way to capture their attention than a video game built with the same engine that produced cultural phenomenon Fortnite?”

“To bring this concept – and its positive impact – to life, however, Fluid Planet needed two crucial ingredients: data and talent.”  For both, Pigat turned to Mitacs.”

Mitacs is a not-for-profit that brings innovation within reach for Alberta organizations by helping to fill the skilled talent gap. Its programs provide a bridge between industry and post-secondary sectors, allowing companies to access academic experts and up-and-coming talent that can help them innovate, boost productivity, and grow.

Using a unique and proven paid internship model, Mitacs matches organizations in need of specific knowledge and skills with highly qualified post-secondary students – and provides funding to cover half the salary costs.

For Fluid Planet, Mitacs has opened the door to collaborative partnerships with faculty and students.  Research in geography and biology was led by Dr. Chris Hopkinson at the University of Lethbridge and Dr. Benedikt Hallgrimsson with the University of Calgary.

Through these collaborations, Fluid Planet is able to tap into invaluable resources:

  1. Extensive regional topographical data, collected by Dr Hopkinson at ULethbridge via LiDAR scanning, which forms the foundation for the virtual worlds being built on the platform;
  2. Talented, motivated, and hardworking students from a wide range of academic disciplines looking to contribute to a meaningful project, expand their developer skills, and break into the gaming industry;
  3. And funding to reduce the company’s salary costs for these highly skilled interns.

Thanks to the support of Mitacs, and the brilliant work of the student developers, Fluid Planet’s ecosystem education game is now live, and the team is constantly working on builds for other clients, including training modules for oil and gas workers, and virtual tour experiences for the real estate industry.

The co-founder says his experience of working with the Mitacs team, from the project scoping phase to developing a strong application to identifying just the right talent for his needs, has been refreshingly easy and very supportive. In fact, Fluid Planet is currently in the process of applying for another cluster of interns to fuel its continued growth.

Additionally, the quality of the talent that Mitacs provides is unparalleled – and several of Pigat’s former interns have since gone on to work in the field, including on other Fluid Planet initiatives.

“Our entire labour force is university students. They’re incredible to have on the team because of their energy and enthusiasm for the work. And on top of that, the real-world experience they gain through these internships enables them to build in-demand skills and keep pace with the tools of the trade, and that opens many doors.

“Mitacs is great for them, and it’s great for us.”

To learn more about how Mitacs can support your business, or to kick-start your talent / funding application, connect with a local innovation expert at Mitacs.



Register for the upcoming webinar here