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Gamification of Food Selection and Nutrition Education in VR

Student: Caroline Klein, Vassar College

Mentor: Margrethe Horlyck-Romanovsky, Brooklyn College


Week 1

After a hectic move-in and learning to use the subway on the first day, I was happy to meet Dr. Wole and all my wonderful cohort members at bowling. Monday was mostly settling in to Hunter and learning about the structure of the program, but later in the week we dove into discussing research conferences and VR, including a brief introduction to ParaView. I also met with my mentor twice to discuss research ideas and develop my project. I spent most of the week researching, brainstorming, and writing my proposal in my room, using the previous REU publications as reference. I also dedicated a significant amount of time to completing my CITI certification to ensure proper research practices.

I am currently planning to develop a virtual buffet environment and design an experiment to see how incorporating gamified elements like nutrient-based point incentives influences people’s food selections in the simulation. It was challenging gauging how much development I could accomplish in 4-5 weeks since I’ve never worked with Unity or VR, but I am open to adjusting my project as needed once I am familiar with the software and have a better sense of what I can accomplish. Although things were a bit unclear at first, I’m excited for the following weeks as I take the next steps with my project and begin learning Unity.


Week 2

I spent most of the first half of the week setting up and connecting the MetaQuest headset and learning how to deploy a game from Unity. Kwame was very helpful in this area, and spent time during Wednesday’s class helping me and Amaya get a handle on the basics. I followed some introductory Unity tutorials and played around with the VR development environment on my own as well. For the second half of the week, I completed my literature review and drafted the Introduction, Related Work, and References sections of my research paper. I also completed my CITI certification and tried out Tableau in class on Friday. On my own time, I was excited to attend a women in computing event at Bank of America and get a NY Public Library Card after finally getting our student IDs. 

Next week, my goal is to jump into development and make significant progress on the VR game because the headset logistics took longer than I expected this week and I have not started implementing the actual buffet simulation yet. I aim to finish the game in the next 3 weeks so I have enough time to collect data, analyze results, and finalize the paper. I will also start planning the specifics of the buffet options and gathering information about their nutritional value using the USDA database as my mentor suggested.

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City University of New York
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