Tree World

Designed by Ari Hollander, Paul Schwartz, Bruce Selleg and Kimberley Osberg

Programmed by Ari Hollander


Tree World is a virtual environment designed to interactively teach elementary students about tree structures and some of the life processes associated with the tree. It is not intended to be a comprehensive environment, but rather an introduction to how a tree is constructed, and what it needs to be a happy, healthy tree, including how big the roots need to be, and the other things that a tree needs for growth and prosperity, such as water, sunlight and nutrients. This is intended to be the base environment for elementary students who are involved in the world-building phase of the VRRV project. To this base world will be added creatures cerated by the students, who use or who live in trees. After the student has made the tree happy and healthy by providing all of the necessary components, all of these creatures will appear, since the tree can now support life outside of itself.

SCENE 1 - Basic Tree Structures and Tree Health

LEARNING GOAL: Identify component parts of a tree, and determine what items from the environment each of those component parts needs to be healthy.

The student enters the environment. In the environment is a sick tree. It is brown and droopy. The student is told that they are a tree doctor, and that they need to figure out how to make the tree healthy. The tree itself has separate parts; roots (very small-- not large enough to support the tree at its current size), trunk, branches and canopy. Located on a bulletin board are those four words, plus a health meter (a smily face that is easily recognizable to students of this age) with a big frown on its face.

The first step is for the students to take a copy of the labels from the bulletin board and to attach them to the appropriate section of the tree. Once the labels have been attached in the right location (the label will become brighter if it is correctly attached), the student can then begin to accommodate the trees needs.

In this Tree World, the roots are used as a health multiplier. The student must grow the roots by moving a slider that will be in plain view next to the root label. Once the roots have been fully grown, all of the other components to a trees health (sunlight, water, and nutrients) can be used to maximum efficiency. Otherwise, these other components will have limited effect on the trees health.

To get the sun to shine on the tree, the student must remove the cloud that is blocking sunlight. To provide the tree with water, the student must remove a stone that is blocking a streams movement near the tree. To provide nutrients to the tree, the student will need to find either the cowpie or some other form of dung and place it in the ground for the trees use.

As each of these components are provided, the smily faces associated with each part of the tree (and on the comprehensive bulletin board) will change based on whether the roots have been fully grown, and whether all of the things that a tree needs have been provided. There are five different health states that are illustrated by facial expression on the smily faces. When the tree it totally happy, all of the childrens creatures appear, which is their reward as successful tree doctors.