Information Trust Institute block of abstract images
Information Trust Institute block of abstract images

New board game helps K-12 students learn about nation’s pipeline network

With more than 2.4 million miles of pipeline, the United States boasts the largest oil and gas network on the planet. But most people don’t give a passing thought to the infrastructure that moves oil across the nation, unless it becomes a cause célèbre as did the Keystone XL pipeline controversy.

CREDC Pipeline Board Game
CREDC Pipeline Board Game
The University of Illinois’ Jana Sebestik is hoping to change that. Sebestik’s team has created a board game to help the public – K-12 students in particular – better understand America’s pipeline system. The game will make its public debut at the Cyber Resilient Energy Delivery Consortium (CREDC) Industry Workshop this week in Tempe, Ariz.

“In general, people have no idea how oil gets from the ground to become gasoline for their cars,” said Sebestik, Assistant Director of STEM Curriculum Design and CREDC contributor. “This game helps demonstrate the connection between physical infrastructure and the cyber networks that help run them.”

The board game takes a player along a path through the United States, similar to the course a pipeline may follow. As users move forward by rolling a die, they will stop on spaces where they can learn more about various components of the oil network, including oil wells, refineries, gas stations, and others. When they land on “debate” space, for example, players will learn about controversies surrounding pipelines, including the Keystone XL.

The back of the game is wired with copper tape and the circuitry connects to a Makey Makey circuit board, which connects the game to the Internet – in this case, to Scratch, a popular visual programming language used for educational purposes. When a game piece lands on a space on the game board that is wired through the Makey Makey circuit board to connect with the software interface, the game piece activates code in Scratch to deliver information – in both audio and visual formats.

The beauty of the game, according to Sebestik, is that it offers students the opportunity to enhance the experience by producing their own code, which can be connected to the online interface.

“We’re giving people both the chance to learn about pipelines and to add to the information in the game,” she said. “It’s education at its best.”

More About CREDC

The $28.1 million Cyber Resilient Energy Delivery Consortium (CREDC), led by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and funded by the Department of Energy and the Department of Homeland Security, is working to improve the resilience and security of the cyber networks that serve as the backbone of the infrastructure that delivers energy – known as energy delivery systems (EDS) – particularly in the electric grid and oil & gas sectors. Working in close collaboration with industry partners, CREDC aims to create a channel through which foundational research will lead to short-term and mid-term solutions for the marketplace. The consortium consists of 12 universities and national laboratories. For more information, please visit cred-c.org.