Skip to main content

App to be used in schools for sustainability education

October 05, 2022

Several people sit around a table in a classroom working together.

An app that entertains teens while teaching them about climate sustainability was developed in collaboration with UVic students and is being launched this fall at three local schools.

The original idea for the app came from four middle and high school students as part of a sustainability competition. The group wanted to “gamify” climate action as a better way to empower young people to care for the planet.

The idea was so promising that UVic’s INSPIRE program partnered with the teens and their schools to turn the idea into a reality.

This October, Claremont Secondary, Ecole Victor Brodeur and Westmont Montessori will begin using the app – called MyClimAct – as part of their climate change education in social studies and science courses.

“Throughout development, the INSPIRE team focused on a central value – to frame climate change action in a positive light, avoiding the apathy and negativity often associated with news about climate change,” said Daniela Damian, a professor of software engineering, who leads the INSPIRE program at UVic.

“So, instead of teaching students about climate problems, the app focuses on climate solutions: the goal is to empower, not dishearten.”

INSPIRE is a unique program that provides co-op opportunities to small teams of science and engineering students, who work on with industry mentor and community partners on finding real solutions to real societal challenges. The UVic students who worked on the app project are Gabrielle Aparecide Pires Alves, Adam Bookout, Amy Penney, Manish Sihag and Fanny Weber.

“Working alongside community partners, around tight deadlines, and with plenty of pivots have given me valuable experience that could not have been gained in a classroom,” said Adam Bookout, MyClimAct team member and a second-year software engineering student at UVic.

“Working with others to bridge my passions for technology and the natural world has been an opportunity I never expected to have this early in life,” he said. “This project has inspired a passion for understanding the role of technology in sustainability, and its power for social impact.”

The idea for the app was first pitched by Zeinab Guittoni, Matteo Carere, Sebastian Damian and Thea Damian as part of the Westmont Prize Design Challenge. INSPIRE provided summer internships to high school students, who worked alongside the team of six university students to develop a working app. The team consulted with more than 200 students from a range of socio-economic, cultural and ethnic backgrounds, while maintaining an inclusive and safe space for younger students to give their opinions and see their ideas come to reality through iterative design and testing.

As the app launches this month, the three school involved will provide INSPIRE with feedback for technical improvements. MyClimAct will track users’ carbon footprint while suggesting attainable, fun challenges.

Learn more about MyClimAct.