About Lab Manager
Genre: Turn-based game, Educational, Resource management, Strategy, Physics
Target Audience: Bachelor students and above
Primary learning goals:
- Learn the tools and resources needed to cool and trap atoms to conduct experiments.
- Understand trade-offs in research laboratory management and reflect on the optimal winning strategy.
Are you ready to be a Lab Manager?
Lab Manager is a turn-based simulation game where you take the role of a researcher managing an atomic physics laboratory. The game simulates a scenario of research management where you have to strike a balance between conducting novel research, hiring manpower, buying equipment and applying for grants to conduct ultra-cold atom experiments. Check out the game interface and features here.
The intention is to illustrate the different components, choices and difficulties faced by researchers in their professional life while running a laboratory. There are times when they have to make decisions or prioritize appropriately based on a particular situation. This may include for example: How does one choose between buying a laser or building one on their own? What is the optimal number of people needed in the lab? More expensive equipment gives better stability and better output but could the money be spent more efficiently elsewhere? Aiming to publish in the highest impact journal and applying for the best grants may give fame and opportunities but is it worth the higher risk of rejection? The choices are up to you...
Similarly, in the game you encounter trade-offs, uncertainties and strategies to successfully run the laboratory. The game is won when you get ultracold atoms in space, as in the Cold Atom Lab on the International Space Station before your lab runs out of money and resources!
During the gameplay, you also learn about many technologies and experimental techniques, starting from cooling to trapping atoms to performing ultra-cold atomic experiments. Each time you unlock a new technology to investigate, the game has a pop-up with educational content describing each technology, how it works, and why it is useful. This gives you an understanding of the different technologies and the dependencies between them. To begin with, you read about why rubidium is one of the most-used atoms in ultra-cold quantum experiments and proceed with unlocking, researching and understanding the different technologies in the game until you, if you’re strategic and lucky, get ultra cold atoms in space - which is when you win the game.
The different technologies along with their short description and the learning goals can be read in detail here.
The minimum time needed to get a sense of the game, different strategies and dilemmas in the life of a scientist, and gain some knowledge about physics is 20 minutes. It will take longer to complete the whole game, and that time will depend on your strategy taken and how lucky you are with the random events that will happen.