K305 Alvar

#DamOrNot: bridging science and current affairs through an educational Twitter game


Stephanie Januchowski-Hartley


Do you know how many rivers you crossed over on your journey to school or work today? How many of those rivers have culverts that could act as barriers to the movement of fishes, materials, or even water? Or, did you hear about the political tensions related to the construction of the Renaissance Dam in Ethiopia? These are the types of questions we address in the game #DamOrNot. #DamOrNot is an educational game that runs on a weekly basis on the social media platform, Twitter. Every Tuesday I share an image of a landscape and I ask those following the DamOrNot hashtag to identify dams, weirs, roads, or other potential infrastructure, as well as potential impacts of the structures, why we are visiting a particular place, and with what certainty they can identify the infrastructure. The goal is for participants to both take a step in a scientist’s shoes, and to think about water systems management, and the challenges faced. In this talk I will introduce the #DamOrNot game, discuss how I link science and current affairs to engage with people about infrastructure, review ways of measuring engagement with the game, as well as highlight next steps for expanding the game to other media.