PEWI Science Model Diagram

We created an interactive, expandable tree diagram of PEWI’s science model for users to explore the components of all seven science modules. By navigating to the science model webpage, you can click on any node to expand the model out to increasing levels of detail. For example, the nitrate-nitrogen concentration module contains four subcomponents:conservation practices, row crop area, precipitation, and strategic wetlands.


About Us

PEWI is a digital game-based learning tool. PEWI = People in Ecosystems Watershed Integration. Teachers use the game with students. Extension educators and watershed coordinators use the game with landowners and other stakeholders.

PEWI is a university-created game, funded by generous donors and grants, and it is free and at no cost to users, including institutional users, like schools. We also have a Teachers Guide, which is also free and at no cost.

PEWI helps people understand the impacts of agricultural and natural land uses. PEWI is a simulation-based on science. It shows people how to explore the impacts of 15 land uses on biodiversity, water quality, wildlife, production agriculture, and more complex topics such as carbon sequestration. Users confront tradeoffs in ecosystem service outcomes. PEWI shows the data in both visual and numeric formats, including a flyover (drone) mode.

Select the Teachers Guide from the top menu to open a site dedicated to teachers and instructors from middle school to college, including lesson plans, career videos, and project-based learning and 4-H applications.

To use the PEWI game now, click here.

Want to learn PEWI? Watch this brief video tutorial (2 min).

Or watch this longer tutorial: this more comprehensive video tutorial (5 min).

A team created PEWI over several years under the direction of Dr. Lisa Schulte Moore. Hear her story. Watch this video. (12 min)

Questions? Email



PEWI addresses our need to understand ways to balance agricultural production with other environmental benefits, including clean water, abundant wildlife and managing climate change. While PEWI focuses on the US Corn Belt, its lessons can apply to agricultural regions globally. Our objectives in offering PEWI are three fold:

  • Provide teachers with a digital game based learning unit that meets national standards in science and agriculture.
  • Provide non-formal educators of adults with a simulation that can be part of a larger conversation related to tradeoffs at the community and regional level related to ecosystem services and production agriculture.
  • Network with other simulation teams on ways to become an interface for science and learning, and how to add land uses and features to enlarge the experience for the user.

To meet these goals, we have made the tool open source and we offer multiple opportunities to collaborate.  To learn more about how to contribute to the science or code that drives PEWI, visit our Collaborate page. Our Teachers Guide is also digital and flexible, as part of a public, no cost Canvas Learning Management System site, which means it can be updated swiftly with new lesson plans and resources.

  Email with questions and feedback for the development team.


Thank You to Our Funders!

The development of PEWI has been funded through grants from Iowa State University Department of Agronomy, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, USDA McIntire-Stennis Program (IOW05354, IOW05534), National Science Foundation (1924178), USDA National Institute for Food and Agriculture (2018-67019-27886), US Forest Service Northern Research Station, and The McKnight Foundation (12-323). We would not be able to provide PEWI without their generous support. THANK YOU!!!


What's Next?

Over time we will continue to develop PEWI to improve features, design, and usability. In the future, we envision expanding PEWI even further—potentially with more land covers and indicators, additional complexities, other land-use contexts, and more interactive graphics. Our vision includes incorporating ecosystem services indicators, such as nutritional value of food produced and energy produced from biomass. The possibilities for PEWI are endless, and feedback from PEWI users will be an instrumental part of future development efforts.