Imagine a regular morning: You start your day with a cup of coffee, slip into your comfortable cotton shirt and make yourself some delicious muesli with lots of fresh fruit and nuts. You would have to do without all of this if it weren't for those important little helpers - our wild bees. More than 550 different species of wild bees are known in Germany but more than half of them are on the Red List or have already become extinct. Consequences are devastating: wild bees significantly contribute to the diversity of our ecosystem. However, the "wild sisters" of our well-known honey bees are often rather unknown creatures. Hence, raising awareness about the many challenges they face is of utmost importance.
In this project, we are developing an intelligent application for classroom settings, which shows the great importance of wild bees for our ecosystem. Our goal is to develop a cross-platform mobile application to increase sustainable awareness about the protection of wild bees. The application includes (1) a set of interactions possibilities for the user, e.g., exploring the environment with the wild bee character and discovering information by meeting other characters, playing with the wild bee, feeding the wild bee and (2) mini games related to real-world activities. These are embedded in project workshops and thus enable the user to experience the consequences of real-world actions in the virtual space. Machine learning algorithms ensure a user-adaptive system behavior.
The application starts with a grid (4 x 3) consisting of 11 different wild bee species and a honey bee character. Each character’s name emerged from the given latin name of the species and involves both male and female wild bees. The design process of our first character - Mia, the mason bee, has been completed while other characters are currently being designed.
We already collected the requirements for the app in a workshop with teachers, experts for wild bees and members of the project team. Based on our evaluating of the findings afterward, an exciting story emerged. It includes diverse biologically well-founded characters, such as the garden wool bee Mani or the mason bee Mia, which will soon take users on a journey to discover their secrets. We are currently translating our many ideas into a technically feasible framework to implement our first prototype. It will make its way into the classroom of participating schools during a first testing phase in early 2022. At the same time, the project team is already working on using the app in other languages and discovering new stories with Mani and Mia.
- Wirzberger, M., Bornemeier, J., Kampel, S., Alvarez Serrano, M. G., Ullmann, L., & Rey, G. D. (in press). Umwelt trifft App: Verbindung virtueller und realer Welten in der Bildung für nachhaltige Entwicklung [Environment meets app: Connecting virtual and real worlds in education for sustainable development]. Umweltpsychologie.
- Alumni newsletter TU Chemnitz [PDF]
Wild Bee Experts
- Georg-Ludwig-Rexroth-Realschule Lohr am Main
- Theodosius Florentini Schule Gemünden
- Dr. Max Näder Gymnasium Königsee
- Charles Dickens Grundschule Berlin
The project is funded by the German Federal Environmental Foundation (DBU).