Video game teaches integrated pest management

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Video game teaches integrated pest management

 

By UNL Extension Friday, June 04, 2010

With a little bit of sleuthing, gamers can find all sorts of environmentally responsible ways to rid their homes and properties of unwanted pests with a new video game available from University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension.

"Pest Private Eye and the Case of IPM in Schools" uses colorful pest private eyecharacters like Pest Private Eye and his protegee Penny Poe in a classic detective story format with up-to-date video gaming technology to teach fourth- through sixth-graders that swatting bugs, fixing screens to keep mosquitoes out or repairing a leaky faucet to discourage cockroach infestations are really part of IPM, or integrated pest management.

"IPM is all about controlling common pests using the lowest environment-impacting methods possible and to use chemical pesticides only after these other methods have been tried since pesticides ultimately get into our environment and water," said UNL Extension assistant Erin Bauer, who helped develop the game for the UNL Department of Agronomy and Horticulture's pesticide education office.

These low- to no-impact methods include sanitation, exclusion, moisture reduction, mechanical controls, habitat modification, biological controls and low toxic chemicals.

"IPM reduces exposure to pesticides, increases human health and safety and protects the environment, concepts we want to teach people in ways they can relate to and easily learn from," Bauer said.

Which is where Pest Private Eye, Penny Poe and their dastardly pest foes come into play.

Game players learn about IPM through a virtual investigation of Eureka Elementary, a school invaded by pests such as flies, roaches, rodents, ants and spiders.

Sleuthing from room-to-room, players learn about and identify pests. They pick up and use tools along the way that assist them in helping Pest Private Eye solve his IPM problems while his trusty assistant, Penny Poe, helps players navigate the game and summarize the IPM concepts.

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