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ODU Recruiting Team to Compete in UVa Bay Game

Students from Old Dominion University will compete against teams from six other schools in the intercollegiate rollout of the UVa Bay Game on Earth Day, April 22. ODU sponsors of the event say their first chore is to pick the team.

The game is a large-scale, agent-based simulation of the Chesapeake Bay watershed that allows players to take the roles of stakeholders, such as farmers, local policy-makers, watermen, and developers. Players make decisions about farming and fishing strategies, land development, tax incentives and regulatory matters. Then the games' numbers-crunching software - which depends upon 51,000 differential equations - quickly reports the economic and environmental impacts of these decisions.

Richard Zimmerman, the professor of Ocean, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences who has led the effort to make ODU a member of the UVa Bay Game consortium, said he hopes to sign up students from all of ODU's colleges to participate in the Earth Day competition.

The ODU team will number at least 24, and it could accommodate 80, Zimmerman said. He is coordinating the ODU portion of the event together with David Burdige, also an ODU professor of ocean, earth and atmospheric sciences. Interested students should contact Zimmerman at rzimmerm@odu.edu or Burdige at dburdige@odu.edu.

ODU's team will compete April 22 from the Norfolk campus, but will be connected via computer networks with the main competition site at U.Va. in Charlottesville. Other participating schools are Virginia Tech, the College of William and Mary, Virginia Commonwealth University, Hampton University and the Naval Academy.

Each school's team will represent one of Chesapeake's Bay seven watersheds: James River, York River, Patuxent River, Rappahannock River, Potomac River, Susquehanna River and the Eastern Shore.

The game is the product of two years of collaboration among faculty from 11 departments in eight of U.Va.'s schools. Programmers have keyed in the 51,000 equations to model the impacts of nutrients fouling the bay's water, government incentives to curb the pollution and fishing pressure and regulations, among other things. The game playing requires negotiations between various stakeholders in a particular watershed to try to come up with compromises acceptable to all sides, and which protect the health of the bay.

The U.Va. Office of the Vice President for Research said the game is an educational tool for raising awareness about watershed stewardship; a tool for exploring and testing policy choices; and a tool for basic research in complex systems modeling. The game developers also believe it has the potential to fundamentally transform thinking about complicated social problems.

More information about the game is at www.uvabaygame.org.

This article was posted on: April 4, 2011

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