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New interactive game educates children on heat safety

'Beat the Heat' available to play on ASU's Ask A Biologist site

Illustrations showing game icons including a young girl, sunglasses, a t-shirt, water bottle and more

Designed to teach children crucial lessons on staying safe in hot climates, the "Beat the Heat" bilingual game combines fun, interactive learning with critical educational content. Courtesy image

April 19, 2024

Ask A Biologist, a long-running K–12 educational outreach effort by the School of Life Sciences at Arizona State University, has launched its latest interactive educational game, called "Beat the Heat," just in time for the summer.

Designed to teach children crucial lessons on staying safe in hot climates, this bilingual game combines fun, interactive learning with critical educational content.

"We're thrilled to introduce 'Beat the Heat' as a fun and educational tool for children to learn about the importance of heat safety," said Charles “Chuck” Kazilek, the executive director of K–12 outreach in the School of Life Sciences and the founding director of the program. "With rising temperatures globally, it's more important than ever for the next generation to understand how to stay safe in the heat."

"Beat the Heat" takes players on an engaging journey through various heat safety scenarios. It's not just a game, it's a journey — an adventure that invites children to navigate the challenges of hot weather through the eyes of their customizable avatars.

As players venture from their in-game homes to grandma’s house and beyond, they're tasked with making decisions that mirror real-life scenarios: Should I drink water now? Is this the right hat for sun protection?

By making these choices, children learn the principles of heat safety — including hydration, the importance of wearing light-colored clothing and the application of sunscreen. The game is also available in both English and Spanish, making it accessible to a wide range of players.

A screen grab of the Beat the Heat game
In-game play from the "Beat the Heat" game. Courtesy image

The game was developed in collaboration with ASU experts in the field of heat safety, including Ron Dorn, professor of geography, Jennifer Vanos, associate professor of sustainability, whose research focuses on extreme heat and thermal comfort and examines health impacts on vulnerable populations, such as children and athletes.  

Funding for game development was provided by a U.S. Department of Education grant to Dorn and the Arizona Geographic Alliance — the K–12 outreach arm of the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning. The grant promotes the acquisition of English academic language by K–12 students.

"We've seen how effective interactive learning can be," said Karla Moeller, who works in the ASU Provost's Office as an executive educational outreach coordinator. "Heat can be an acute danger to health but can also affect student learning and behavior. This game is a powerful way to connect with children and teach them life-saving heat safety practices."

The game was rolled out in a pilot program this spring to several Valley area K–8 schools, including Mesa Public Schools, Glendale Elementary School District and Sacaton Elementary School.

“I teach third graders. They are 8 and 9. They love the challenge,” said Afton Scow of Mesa Public Schools. “They're learning how to 'stay alive' in the game by using the items necessary to 'beat the heat.' It's engaging and entertaining, and, most importantly, they're learning about heat safety.”

In a world where the summer thermometer readings are increasingly making us do a double take, "Beat the Heat" hopes to arm the younger generation with the knowledge to tackle the heat head-on.

Educators and parents are encouraged to incorporate this game into their teaching resources and daily activities to spread awareness about heat safety. Grade-four-through-eight lessons that co-teach the STEM science of the game, along with English language acquisition skills, will be developed by Arizona Geographic Alliance teachers during this summer’s annual teacher workshop. Those lessons will be posted and highlighted at

"Beat the Heat" is available from the Ask A Biologist website for free and also can be played on any device without the need to download an app.

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