PCST Network

Public Communication of Science and Technology


“The Brain” application – making science viral

Julia Sagalin  

The main challenge of science communication is reaching the general public: those who don't read scientific news or articles or find science particularly interesting, important or relevant to their lives. In the digital age, we need to be where the general public is: its mobile phones. In March 2015, The Davidson Institute released "The Brain" mobile phone application, an interactive game, created with the sole purpose of making science more approachable and fun to the general public. The game features more than 300 visual science-related puzzles. Only when the puzzle is solved the next one is revealed. The player collects points for successful solutions, and invited to exchange points for clues or get help from friends using an in-app social media plugin. The experience is colorful, enjoyable and challenging. With no marketing at all, only 3 days after the release, "The Brain" was already top of the app-stores' charts in Israel, overtaking WhatsApp, Facebook and others. After 2 months, the app was downloaded more than 350,000 times in Israel alone. Months after release, tens of thousands are still playing it daily. The viral game was covered widely by the media, including the radio and TV shows, newspapers, news-sites, etc. Adults and teenagers, entire families and schools became addicted to the game. The wide search for puzzle-related science information online led to changes in Google's common searches and an astronomic increase in reading popular-science articles. A children-friendly version of the game, "The Brain Junior", was released a few weeks ago and is also reaping success. We are now developing the English version of the app, due to be released by April 2016. We are also collecting and analyzing more data about the impact of the application on science interest in the general public and in the media.

A copy of the full paper has not yet been submitted.