Alexandra Diracles
Fang-Yu Yang
Sam Brenner
Sarah Rothberg

Plant Pinball

PLANT PINBALL is a virtual pinball machine that teaches players about cell division in the root of the plant.

Playful Communication of Serious Research

Made with the guidance of NYU Researcher Ken Birnbaum, this interactive aims to educate users about how plant root growth and survival on the cellular level. Players hit targets on the playfield- a magnified root tip- to cause cell divisions, which allow the root to grow. The challenge is to cause enough divisions to help the root reach the water deep in the soil before time runs out.

The game itself was developed in flash, and the encasing is an actual pinball machine refitted with monitors, an arduino, and mac mini.

Plant pinball is informative and fun, and was created to be robust enough to endure play by the general public, including young children.

We worked with NYU biologist Ken Birnbaum in various sessions to make sure we had a grasp of his research on plant cell regeneration.

People who like games and learning.

User Scenario
A person walks up to the pinball machine, plays a game which lasts approximately 2 -5 minutes, and learns something about how plant cells divide along the way.

The body is made of a refitted Charlie's Angels Gottleib pinball machine wired up to an arduino to a flash program.

I personally learned a lot about project management, and representing scientific concepts accurately yet in a way that does not overwhelm someone with only cursory knowledge.