New Tahoe Tessie app teaches kids about climate change

Published: Mar. 3, 2023 at 12:54 PM PST
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - Lake Tahoe’s legendary mythical creature is the face of a new educational gaming app.

“Even though Tahoe Tessie isn’t real, climate change is,” said Alison Toy, the education and outreach manager with UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center.

The “Find Tahoe Tessie” app is a fun way to get kids more engaged to learn about the changes happening in and around Lake Tahoe.

“More of our precipitation comes as rain and that brings more sediment into the lake, which causes the loss of clarity and causes algae to grow as the lake warms,” said Heather Segale, the education and Outreach Director at UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center. “So all of these things will impact aquatic organisms in the lake.”

The lake has lost more than 40 feet of clarity since the 1950′s, and it is warmer by nearly two degrees.

“While it might be more comfortable for you, there’s a lot of thing happening below the surface that you should be aware of, in terms of how your actions are affecting, impacting the effects of climate change,” explained Toy,

The app includes videos and trivia questions, while you earn tools along the way to try and find Tahoe Tessie.

“So you’re measuring the temperature, you’re measuring the dissolved oxygen. You’re looking at turbidity, which is clarity,” explained Segale. “And so you’re doing these different measurements and you’re answering questions and learning along the way. With the goal of finding as many of the Tahoe Tessie’s as you can.”

And you can tell how these changes affect Tessie by the way she behaves.

“She gets sadder and sicker as the temperatures warm, because all aquatic organisms need clean cold fresh water, to be able to find their food and get enough oxygen to thrive,” added Segale.

This app was funded by a federal grant and is being beta-tested right now before a wider launch this summer.

“There’s all of these different ideas that you can do, like small actions to take really in order to reduce you carbon emissions by about one ton per year, which would be enough to slow the impacts of climate change,” stressed Toy. “It’s not going to stop it, but it’s going to slow it down.”

You are also encouraged to capture your photos of Tessie thriving in the lake and share them on social media. You can download it from the Apple App store or the Google Play store.