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An environmental board game 0809

Page history last edited by ecop 13 years, 6 months ago
An Environmental Board Game


By: Lydia Johnson





Description and Rationale



The Philippines has many rare and beautiful species of birds, plants and animals that are being threatened by the ever growing problem of pollution and urban growth. These species would be a lot easier to protect if people actually knew that they were being threatened and knew of ways to protect them. Most local people don’t even know that the Philippines has such amazing species that they need to protect. They need to be educated on the existence of these species and the problem of them disappearing, and also about how they can prevent that from happening. One important people group that is largely uneducated about the environment is children. They are the future of the Philippines and should be educated about their environment.

What is the easiest way to educate kids about the problem? Is there a fun way to educate them? Is there an easily understood way to get the point across? Would a board game be a possible way to educate? What kind of focus within the environment should the board game have, should it focus only on the animals or also on the overall environment? How could the board be set up in a way that is fun and interesting but still easily understood?

Would a board game really be a good way to educate kids and young adults? One article from US News seems to think so. “So it turns out that playing board games can turn your child into a math whiz. According to the research, published in the March-April issue of the journal Child Development, number board games similar to Chutes and Ladders can help children, especially those from low-income families, develop number skills that are necessary to do well in math. Disadvantaged children tend to lag behind affluent students in math at the onset of school, and this study found that most low-income children don't have board games at home. The children in the study, 124 preschoolers in the federal Head Start program, used a board game with a spinner and took turns moving pieces along a row of numbered squares. They played four times, for 15 to 20 minutes each session, over a two-week period. At the end of the study, the preschoolers could better identify and count numbers and had a sense of which numbers hold a greater value. So maybe your child won't be solving complicated algebraic expressions right away, but at least he or she will be that much more prepared after several rounds of Chutes and Ladders.”  (http://www.usnews.com/blogs/on-education/2008/5/1/board-games-help-kids-learn-math-study-shows.html) This article seems to show that board games help children learn math better but would this also apply to helping kids learn about the environment? Is it possible to really make a game that is focused on the environment but not too boring for kids? Would the board game sufficiently get across the point I am trying to make?

The initial purpose of this project is to design and create a game that explains how important the environment is and show some threatened species of animals and plants that are unique to the Philippines. I also hope to show ways of saving the environment, within my game. I shall research many unique features of the environment in the Philippines to include in my game as well as researching possible game board designs.  I will then show my game to local children and let them play it.

It is hoped that through my game kids will learn more about the environment and that it might make a lasting impact. The children will learn about the existence of the different important species, about the fact there is a problem and that they are being threatened, and of ways that we can save them and no longer threaten them.



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Common Names and Synonyms



The Giant Golden-Crowned Flying-Fox’s proper scientific name is Acerodon jubatus. It is also called Golden-Capped Fruit Bat, Zorro Volador Filipino (Spanish), Ginintuang-Tuktok Prutas Bat (Tagalog) or Giant Fruit Bat. It is named giant because it is the largest bat in the world, weight wise. The golden crowned or golden capped part of its name comes from the gold like fur on its head.






Kingdom:       Animalia (animals)

Phylum:           Chordata (having a notochord)

Class:             Mammalia (mammals)

Order:             Chiroptera (hand wing)

Family:            Pteropodidae (Flying Foxes or Old World Fruit Bats)

Genus:            Acerodon (sharp  or keen of sight)

Species:         A. jubatus (having mane or crest)



Also included under the species A. jubatus is the subspecies, the Panay golden-crowned flying fox (Acerodon lucifer). There appears to be no morphological differences between A. jubatus and A. lucifer. The bats from Panay seem to be most similar to those from Negros.



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Morphology and Physical Description




The bat’s head and body length is 7–11.4 in. They have a forearm length of 4.9–7.9 in; a wingspan of 4.9–5.6 ft; they don’t have a tail; and weigh 1–2.6 lb. They are considered to be the largest bat in the world when measuring by weight.

The color of their fur varies but normally is from brown to black. The crown of the head is covered in golden-yellow fur, thus giving the bats their common name. Like other species in the Pteropodidae family, the bat has a dog-like face, large eyes and simple, but conspicuous, ears, thus giving it the appearance of a fox which explains its common name. The golden-capped fruit bat’s teeth and short jaws are for piercing the rinds of tough fruit.

Not much is known specifically about the giant golden-crowned flying fox’s internal anatomy but it appears to be very similar to other bats of its family so we assume that their internal anatomy is similar.

The skin on their wings is very elastic and can stretch a lot more than most mammals’ skin can. Because their wings are much thinner than those of birds, bats can maneuver more quickly and more precisely than birds. The surfaces of their wings are also equipped with touch-sensitive receptors on small bumps called Merkel cells, found in most mammals, including humans. But these sensitive areas are different in bats as each bump has a tiny hair in the center, making it even more sensitive, and allowing the bat to detect and collect information about the air flowing over its wings.

The finger bones of bats are much more flexible than those of other mammals. One reason is that the cartilage in their fingers lacks calcium and other minerals nearer the tips, increasing their ability to bend without splintering or breaking. The cross-section of the finger bone is also flattened instead of circular making it even more flexible.

The lungs of bats are typical mammalian lungs, and not like the lungs of birds; this makes them more susceptible to rupture in high altitudes and sudden pressure changes.

Mammals have one-way valves in only their veins to prevent the blood from flowing backwards, but bats also have the same mechanism in their arteries.



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Getting Food



The bats eat fruit, mainly figs, and occasionally cultivated fruits. They forage in the evening, leaving their roosting sites, and flying as far as 30 kilometers away to find fruit.  They go in small foraging groups consisting of two to six animals.

The fruit bat’s teeth and short jaws are specifically adapted for piercing the rinds of tough fruit. This is interesting in that they eat fruit yet they have sharp teeth which to people believing in evolution would mean they eat meat. A species’ teeth are used as a way to classify the animal as either herbivore or carnivore; however the fruit bat is a special example of an herbivorous animal with teeth like a carnivore.



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The breeding season for the golden-capped fruit bat usually is between the drier months of April and May. The females are thought to produce no more than one young each year. The bats are polygamous which means they have more than one mate. Single births are most common. Female bats reach sexual maturity at two years old. Little else is known about their reproduction habits.



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Environmental Factors



The bats reside in primary and secondary forests, montane forests, swamps, and mangroves. They have been observed living at 3,609 ft (1,100 m) altitude. The main competitor seems to be humans who kill the bats for their meat as well as destroying their habitat.



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Origin and Distribution



They are endemic (confined to) to the Philippines. They have been recorded in Basilan, Bongao, Cabo, Bohol, Dinagat, Jolo , Leyte , Luzon, Marinduque , Maripipi, Mindanao, Mindoro, Negros, Panay, Sibutu, and Siquijor.



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Importance to People



The bats are very important to the ecosystems in which they live. Bats that feed on fruits and flowers are important dispersers of seeds and also assist in the pollination of many plant species, including some economically important ones. For example, bats are involved in pollinating the durian fruit, a very popular fruit in South East Asia and important to the economy.



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Survivability and Endangered Status



Once considered common, the golden-capped fruit bat is now threatened with imminent extinction. As a result of deforestation and hunting, populations all over the Philippines have declined considerably, and the bats have vanished entirely from some islands.

While the golden-capped fruit bat is thought to live in some protected areas, further action is urgently needed to prevent the extinction of this species. In 1992, there was a plan developed for the conservation of Old World fruit bats. It outlined a number of possible ways to conserve this species. Due to the problems with trying to limit hunting, the plan recommended that the most effective method of protection would be to manage colonies on small islands where suitable habitat remains, and where protection efforts would be more likely to succeed. In 2003, the Philippine Endemic Species Conservation Project implemented a program for the protection of the golden-capped fruit bat on the island of Boracay. They nearly eliminated any hunting of the bats.

There is another project called the Bat Count Project and it is a community based awareness and monitoring program throughout the Philippines. The heart of the project is getting help from the local communities. They even get support from the local people who used to hunt bats. These people were very important as they know where the roosts are. They also now have an interest in conserving their numbers and ensure their long-term survival after being educated about the bats and about how important they are.





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Potential Solutions



Children are the future of our world. They still have time to change things and are sympathetic and learn easily. Children need to be educated about the environment here in the Philippines. They know so little about all the things they could do to make a difference in saving our planet. They need to be taught about the special unique species that the Philippines have and the precious resources and beautiful works of nature. If changes aren’t made soon then we could lose animal species’ like the Golden-Crowned Flying-Fox forever. A creative and interesting way is needed to educate the Filipino children who can then make a difference. There are many possibilities for educating children, below are 3 possibilities with an analysis of the advantages and disadvantages for each.  Along with each possibility is a current status report of progress made to date on each of the possibilities.


Possibility 1 - Commercials on Children’s TV Stations





Filipino children enjoy watching television. If they could learn about the environment while doing something they enjoy, in this case watching TV, then they are more likely to learn something. A possibility is putting environmental informational commercials in between TV shows on children’s channels. These time slots or commercials would be aimed at their level and help them learn about their country and ways they as children can make a difference. The average child may view as many as 40,000 television commercials every year, so why not fill some of those slots with productive commercials that will help the environment.






  1. Many children would be reached by the commercials. Children watch TV more than any other advertising medium so a lot of children would see the commercials.



  1. Because it is on television, it makes it interesting and the children are less likely to ignore it and do something else. They will be waiting for their TV show to come back on and in the meantime they are entertained by the commercial and learn something. It is a way of teaching them without them even realized that they’re being educated.



  1. There is no cost for the child so many children would be able to see it and be affected by it. Where if there were a cost for the child, not as many children would be able to see it.






  1. By using the medium of commercials on TV it is encouraging the children to watch television. This contradicts the point the commercial would be trying to make because televisions use up electricity and hurt the environment in that way. The medium we would be using would not be environment friendly.



  1. It would cost a very large amount of money to create and air the commercials. TV stations often charge incredibly large amounts of money for slots for commercials.  The only way to raise enough money for the commercials would be for them to be sponsored by the TV station itself or for them to be sponsored by some other very large company that has the money to spend on it. It also costs a lot to create and film commercials. There isn’t a practical way to use this idea on a small scale.



  1. The children would have no active involvement with either other kids or even involvement in what they are doing. When children read they are involved and it takes brainpower, but when they are just sitting and watching, the information is less likely to sink in.



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Possibility 2 - A Monthly Magazine about the Environment for Kids  



Another type of media that is popular among children is magazines. A possibility is to create a monthly magazine that covers a wide variety of issues that relate to the Filipino environment. The magazine would be able to cover many different aspects of ecology, and saving the environment. It would be able to showcase the precious resources and unique species that the Philippines has.     






  1. Magazines, like the television are a type of media that many children find interesting and attractive. With the right marketing, it would be fairly easy to find a target audience that would respond well to the magazine, as long as it is kept fun and interesting. Also as far as I know, there is no other Filipino kid’s environmental magazine.



  1. The magazine would be able to cover a large variety of topics that relate to saving the environment and ecology. The information would also be able to be kept current because there would be a new release every month. It could also be distributed to schools and the schools could use it as a teaching aid when teaching about ecology and the beautiful Philippines environment.



  1. It encourages reading in children which is a basic skill that is needed. The magazine could challenge the children with their reading and promote literacy. The reading also involves the kids and draws them in and makes them feel like part of it.






  1. Magazines require the input of a lot of people. People are needed to research and write articles, to edit and proof those articles as well as people to creatively design the setup of the magazine. A magazine just isn’t a feasible idea for a one person project. The magazine would need to be marketed, distributed and delivered. All of which one solitary person cannot hope to accomplish.



  1. The children would have to buy the magazine unless it was sponsored so the magazine would reach less people than another kind of medium that they don’t have to buy.



  1. The price would be very high because printing is very expensive. I would need a corporate sponsor who could bring down prices to make it cheap enough the children and the general audience. The corporate sponsor would also be needed to distribute and deliver the magazines.



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Possibility 3 - Environmental Themed Board Game



Board games are not only fun for children but also can challenge them and make them think. Filipinos of all ages love to play games. The children can have fun while interacting with each other, learning new things and stimulating their mind and eventually aid them in making decisions that would help and care for the Philippines’ environment. The competitiveness could drive them on so they would be less likely to lose interest. A variety of aspects of ecology and the environment could be talked about.






  1. A board game is a great way to attract the children’s attention by adding the exciting element of competition but its also a great way to stimulate their minds and help them learn more about the Philippines’ environment. It is interesting and exciting enough to keep their interest where in other types of media the kids might just get bored and switch channels or stop reading the magazine. The game’s focus would be on the Filipino biodiversity and basic ecological issues and ways to make a difference.



  1. The game would be helping them learn, not only about the environment but helping them in other ways too. It could help improve their English reading skills which would help them in school as well. It would also help their listening skills because they would have to listen to their friend read them their question to answer.



  1. The children would play the game with their families so not only children would be affected but also a variety of ages.



  1. The game would be a one time cost, both for the manufacturer and the buyer.






  1. The children who play the game would have to speak and read English well because the game is in English. This may limit the target audience here in the Philippines because some children who go to government schools may not be as good at reading English as children who go to private schools, especially younger children.



  1. If this project were to pan out in the long term it would eventually become outdated. It would be needed to be kept up to date by republishing it every couple years or so, as the statistics change and new species of animals are found and old species become extinct.  



  1. The game would have to be purchased which means that families that want to play it would have to be able to afford it. So this limits the target audience.




Action Step




I designed the environmentally themed board game “Take Care of the Philippines”. The game works on a system of “green points” rewards, by answering questions and picking up cards you either gain or lose points throughout the game. Whoever has the most green points at the end of the game is the winner.

There are five different categories of cards. The board is divided into three sections as you “travel” through the Philippines you go through the different sections, the city, the ocean and the nature and there are specific questions for each section.

The first category of cards is city questions, the orange spaces and cards, in which you answer multiple choice questions having to do with the environment in the city. The second category of cards is the ocean questions, the blue spaces and cards, where the multiple choice questions are all about the ocean and beaches. The third category of cards is nature questions, the green spaces and cards, in which you answer multiple choice questions pertaining to the rainforests and animals. Mixed into the three other sections are two other types of cards. One of these is fill in the blank questions, the red spaces and cards, where instead of choosing the right answer from a list you have to say the correct word to fill in the blank. The last category of cards is the think green cards that give an example of an action you might do and you either lose or gain points depending on whether the action is positive or negative to the environment.



After designing and creating my game I took it to some Filipino children so that they could test it out and play it. It was very difficult to find children to play my game because the children needed to be able to read English. I called a number of children’s homes and even tried organizing something with kids from my church but none of the plans worked out. Finally after talking with numerous people,  Mrs. Deborah Gunderson heard about my project and offered to have us over to her house where her son and his neighborhood friends could play it. The children that played the game were: Aubrey – 7 years old

John Paul – 7 years old

Pong Pong – 11 years old

Bryan – 11 years old

Michelle – 12 years old

Charlene – 13 years old.

We set up the game in the Gunderson’s living room and I explained the game to them. Once I finished explaining the kids started playing. I sat with them and explained what some of the terms meant and helped some of the younger children read their cards. The children played the game for almost two hours. The children really seemed to enjoy the game and I saw that they were learning a lot. Later in the game when a question would come up that an earlier question had mentioned the answer to, a lot of the kids would remember that and make reference to the earlier question.

The whole time they were playing, there was a kind of excitement in the air. They always called me over and wanted to know what things meant and asked for help reading questions. They seemed eager to learn more and seemed to have a blast learning things through the game. They got very impassioned and all would start clapping and cheering when someone got a hard question right. Even when things weren’t going their way in the game they kept their spirits up and it didn’t seem to bother them. They also were very diligent at picking up details and learning new facts and pieces of information. They could tell me things that they had learned during the game.


There are some of the things I learned that could be improved in the future if the game were to be marketed or made again. One of them is that the game was way too long. The younger children were starting to lost interest towards the end and it just went one for way too long, two hours is far too long for a board game of this kind. We actually started playing with only one die but we realized soon that if we didn’t change something, the game would take forever to finish. So we added another die which quickened the pace a little bit, but the game could still be shortened. Another thing to change is that some of the questions just had too many meaningless numbers and statistics that didn’t make much of a difference on the children whereas words that explained what things were made more of an impact on the children and they remembered those easier. And one last thing is that some of the fill in the blank questions were far too hard and I had to find easier one’s for some of the kids.




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