Just put yourself in a kid’s shoes. It’s a dream to go to school in order to play. We actually made this dream come true by creating an educational board-game through which pupils can play and learn at the same time. It may be true that repetition is crucial for learning, but who would want to repeat a school-class? Yet playing the same game twice is not the craziest thing to do. Every time you play an educational game you extract more knowledge out of it, you observe more details, and you get curious to receive more answers. That is how you might want to grow and learn when you’re a kid, without even noticing that you are growing or learning.
As soon as we realized how important games are for transmitting knowledge and how much alternative educational tools are needed in schools, we took the challenge to create CUiB - a board-game for primary-schools. It was indeed a challenge in many respects: to preserve the relevance of the knowledge transmitted in class, but at the same time to simplify; to combine the excitement of winning a game with teaching the value of cooperation; to produce a game when you are not among the consecrated game-producers; and even to get your friends and relatives to play-test the game in order to perfect it.
We developed and produced our initial 50 games thanks to a small European grant and we donated almost all of them to several schools in Romania. We kept just a couple of games with which we participated in several events in Brasov, Bucharest and Berlin. We got invited to play in more schools and in other organizations engaged in educational activities. We gained new members in our team. We took a small step every day. And more steps are still to be taken. Stay tuned!
We all know that combating climate change is one of the main priorities of mankind today. Last year the United Nations conference in Paris (COP21) ended with maybe the biggest agreement in the history of addressing climate change: urging all parties to accelerate and intensify the actions and investments needed for a sustainable low carbon future. This Paris Agreement requires all its signatory countries to put forward their best efforts through “nationally determined contributions” and to strengthen these efforts in the years ahead.
Our organization, Carpaterra Association, takes these challenges seriously, trying to combat climate change through all its actions. From the very beginning of our existence as an organization we pursued objectives such as: protecting nature and developing our natural areas in an environmental-friendly way. With these aims we completed various projects for sustainable development, we built strategies for natural protected areas, and we made efforts in support of community development. As custodians of 6 natural protected areas we carried out practical activities like planting trees, building touristic infrastructure, organizing greening sites and educational camps with children. We also conducted research on multiple species of birds, studying their life and how they are affected by human actions. After 6 years of activities in the field of environmental protection we felt the need to focus on educating young people; helping children to grow up with an environmental-friendly mindset would make it easier for us to achieve our goals.
In this context CUiB was born, one of my most beloved projects.
When Luana came with the idea of making a board-game about birds I was very excited. The idea of making people responsible in relation to others - whether they are other people or birds - captivated me from the beginning. It seemed to be suitable with all of Carpaterra`s activities and goals.
Through CUiB we are trying to encourage children to assume responsibility at an early age and to reflect about their actions in relation to the environment. Every movement on the World-map a CUiB-player makes in the game, allows him to see how a human action affects the Earth. He will see how over-exploitation of forests, extensive agriculture or even windmills affect the environment. Many of these human actions were progressive and well-intended, yet history shows us that humans were never too cautious with the environment.
Elementary needs of the birds like water, food and health are highlighted at every step in the game and always get you thinking about the need for aforethought and well-chosen actions.
Other key elements in the game are the 3 boards built on 3 world-map scenarios situated several decades apart and showing the distribution of resources on the globe now and in the long-term future. This element invites children to reflect and shows them clearly how climate change may affect the entire Earth.
I think this game opens children’s minds to think about important matters and helps them understand more clearly what climate change means.
If Americans had played CUiB at the beginning of XX century, maybe they would have commercialized Tesla cars earlier allowing transport to be cheaper and cleaner.
If Beijing residents had played CUiB half century ago, they might have been able to see clearer skies today and wouldn’t have been forced to wear the human street-mask.
If a Dutch had played CUiB at the begging of Industrialization, for sure this would have convinced the Queen to donate a game in every school for the country’s soil.
Photo credits Ed Hawkins
We are all happy in spring when migrants come. Aren’t we? All the children look forward for the arrival of migrant birds and adults encourage them to feel this way. Why don’t we always welcome migrant people with the same joy? Are the migration of birds and the migration of people really that different? Aren’t they both being led by similar logics: the satisfaction of basic needs, achieving wellbeing, grounding a family, enjoying the freedom to move?
Last year in spring we started building a board-game with these ideas in mind. That’s how we created CUiB, a game about birds and humans. The game is gentle in suggesting the analogy between the migration of birds and the migration of people. It is an educational board-game which teaches not so much by providing answers, but rather by stimulating questions. It increases the interest of young kids in the world around them and develops in them a positive and caring attitude towards nature and towards others. By using the metaphor of migrant birds the game invites each player to be a migrant at least for one hour, understanding better the challenges and hardships of migration, becoming more aware of the importance of cooperation and of the respect for fundamental rights.
We built the game in such a way as to inspire empathy, generosity and respect towards others. For instance, at the end of every round we encourage the young players to exchange or donate each other resources-cards. We discovered to our surprise, when playing with kids, that they were already very empathetic, generous and respectful towards one another. In comparison with how adults played the game, children were much less competitive, sharing and helping each other much more and in a disarmingly honest and enthusiastic way. Kids play the game with a genuine altruism, which adults lack most of the times. Apparently, as time goes by, we learn to compete and often forget to cooperate. CUiB is then relevant in that it helps children preserve their generosity and empathy. Let’s support children to grow up in this spirit.
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CUiB by Carpaterra (the game and all related services) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.