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Alonzo Genelin ’16 (left) and Anmol Lamichhane ’18 play Geo, a card game they designed and will present about during the Natural Sciences Undergraduate Research Poster conference on Friday, Oct. 30.

Geometry collides with ecosystems in card game to be presented at 12th annual science conference

October 29, 2015

More than 30 of Earlham’s young scientists will share their latest projects during the Natural Sciences Undergraduate Research Poster Conference on Friday, Oct. 30 in the Center for Science and Technology (CST). 

The 12th annual conference will begin at about 4:30 p.m., just after the CST dedication. Posters will be displayed in CST 103 and throughout the first floor of CST and possibly into Stanley Hall.

“Earlham's natural science students have participated in research projects that are strikingly diverse, in terms of scientific disciplines represented as well as in terms of geographic and institutional diversity,” says Kat Bartlow, assistant professor of Biology and a conference committee member.

“Some students participated in cutting-edge research on campus with Earlham faculty members, while others had the opportunity to spend the summer gaining valuable research experience at prestigious research universities and national research laboratories.”

Students also conducted fieldwork-based research at sites across the world, including Olduvai Gorge, the Bahamas, Sweden and Ecuador.

“Our students' submitted abstracts also reflect a high degree of scientific rigor,” Bartlow says. “Some of the work presented at this conference will be published in peer-reviewed scientific journals; other Earlham student work has won awards at national-level research conferences.”

One project featured in the conference by Anmol Lamichhane ’18 and Alonzo Genelin ’16 has resulted in the submission of a card game to several publishers. Their presentation for the conference is entitled “Creating a card game using geometry axioms and theorems.”

“We turned geometry into a game,” Genelin says of the game they call “Geo.”

The Geo deck contains 107 cards, and each card has either a picture of an ecosystem such as a freshwater lake, desert, etc., or a member of the ecosystem such as a toad or cactus. Different member cards combine to form various ecosystems, which again combine with other ecosystem or member cards that carry a higher point value. The goal is to ultimately obtain the world card, which has the highest point value.

Genelin and Lamichhane created Geo during a Ford/Knight Collaborative Research course with Visiting Assistant Professor of Mathematics Martha Byrne. Lamichhane says a spring break trip to Salt Lake City served as part of the inspiration for the game.

“We passed the flat grassy prairies in Kansas, the mountains of Colorado, lakes in Missouri and Kansas, and the desert in Utah,” Lamichhane says. “We made this the theme, so we could cover up the math and background stuff using different ecosystems.” In addition, the game, which existed only on notecards at the time, was play-tested repeatedly during the trip.

Genelin says he was surprised to discover the amount of increased interest in a game after the math is hidden.

“When it’s not just the math that’s actually going on, but a theme, people are actually interested,” Genelin says. “Games are driven by math because math is behind every game.”

“Geo can be used to teach children which members form the different ecosystems and how the ecosystems form the world,” Lamichhane says. “Building the game itself was the process of building knowledge.”

Other projects span topics including atmospheric dynamics on Uranus; improving the Scalability of metagenomic software; courtship behaviors of the Dark-eyed Junco, a North American songbird; and interactions of salts with biologically-relevant surfaces.

— EC —

Earlham College, a national liberal arts college located in Richmond, Indiana, is a "College That Changes Lives." We expect our students to be fully present: to think rigorously, value directness and genuineness, and actively seek insights from differing perspectives. The values we practice at Earlham are rooted in centuries of Quaker tradition, but they also constitute the ideal toolkit for contemporary success. Earlham is one of only 40 national liberal arts colleges ranked among U.S. News and World Reports' "Great Schools at a Great Price."

Brian Zimmerman is director of media relations at Earlham College. He can be reached at (765) 983-1256 and




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