Education and
Public Engagement
at the Lunar and Planetary Institute
Explore Earth's Climate

Polar Bears Go with the Floes Board Game

Overview

In this 45-60 minute "high-stakes" board game, everyone wins or everyone loses! As they play, groups of three to four children ages 8 to 13 build an understanding of how human actions impact global change. As teams, children play a game in which chance and choice determine the fate of a lone polar bear on an ice floe!

What's the Point?

Materials

For each group of three to four children:

For the facilitator:

Preparation

Activity

1. To introduce the activity, invite the children to play a "high stakes" board game — Polar Bears Go With the Floes — in which everyone wins or everyone loses! They will work together as a team to determine whether or not to save a polar bear on an Arctic sea ice floe.

2. Prompt a discussion about what is happening to ice on our Earth.

Share that the sea ice the thin layer of ice that forms from the chilled ocean water — in the Arctic is getting thinner and smaller and melting earlier each spring.

Help the children make the connection between our use of energy and our use of fossil fuels. Often our electricity is generated by burning coal, so every time we turn on a light bulb or turn on the air conditioner in the summer, we are using electricity that was produced by burning fossil fuels and releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. By making careful choices in our daily lives — even some that do not seem connected to directly using fossil fuels, such as recycling or composting — we can make a difference to the entire Earth — and to the polar regions!

3. Divide the children into groups of three to four players and distribute the game board, Rules of the Game sheets, game pieces, cards, puzzle pieces, die, and polar bears. Show the children how to set up their boards, puzzles, and bears, and invite them to choose their game pieces.

4. Review the Rules of the Game with the children and invite them to begin to play.

Conclusion

5. Regroup with the children and invite them to share things they can do to help reduce global warming. Encourage them to think about what they read in the game.

It is important to let the children know that they — not just adults — can make a difference and help decrease carbon dioxide emissions by making careful choices and by encouraging others to do the same.