Young eco-warriors are on a roll

11th May 2007 at 01:00
An innovative Ludo-style board game is inspiring primary pupils in Aberdeen to save the planet

A PIONEERING primary school has been road testing a new board game, designed to encourage youngsters to do their bit to save the planet. Pupils at Cults Primary in Aberdeen have been playing a prototype Energy Game and giving their verdict to its developers.

The game involves players answering questions on four topics - energy efficiency, renewables, waste and the environment. And the kids from Cults don't pull any punches in their critique.

As the pupils give the game the once-over, 11-year-old Callum Dale, says:

"It's really good but I think they could be more imaginative if you get a question wrong. Quite a lot of times you are made to go right back to the start,"

Teammate Olivia Paterson, 11, agrees that it is a bit harsh and thinks it would be better if you just had to go back a few spaces or even miss a turn when you get a question wrong, but adds: "It is really good fun."

The children even had the brainwave of devising their own questions to add to the repertoire supplied: "I had the idea of making up more questions and my teacher liked that," says 10-year-old India Bruckner.

Pupil Alex Sim, 10, stops the chat with the next question: "Which uses least electricity - a toaster or a Playstation?"

"It's a Playstation," says Callum.

"Correct," says Alex.

The idea of the game is that using a die, children race energy-saving devices around the board to see which team can get the most of these playing pieces to their home in the time available. The winners are the team whose house has amassed the greatest collection of energy-saving devices, such as wind turbines, light bulbs and rolls of insulation material.

The Energy Game has been devised by Scarf (Save Energy and Reduce Fuel), the local energy advice centre, and they are now looking for a backer to finance production, so it can be rolled out free to schools across Scotland.

"It's an energy efficiency game which is a bit like a Ludo board, and it's a fun way of getting pupils to think about the kind of things they should and shouldn't be doing," explains Jean Morrison, Scarf's chief executive officer.

The Cults pupils have their own Eco Council and are now pursuing their second Green Flag as part of the Eco Schools Scotland programme, an international environment management programme, run by Keep Scotland Beautiful.

More than 2,250 schools in Scotland have registered in the Eco Schools programme, which is more than 80 per cent. Scotland has the highest percentage of schools in Europe involved in the programme, with more than 440 achieving first Green Flag status.

Cults Primary is the first school in Aberdeenshire to install its own wind turbine, which has just gone live. And in recognition of its impressive green credentials, Ian Smithers, the headteacher, was recently invited to Cambridge University to attend a lecture on climate change from US former vice-president Al Gore.

The board game has been tested by schools in Aberdeen, Aber-deenshire, Moray and Tayside, and has been welcomed by pupils and teaching staff. Jill McGregor, Scarf's senior energy adviser, gives presentations to schools about the game which, she says, can be geared for children of all ages, as well as adults.

She's delighted at the Cults pupils' suggestions and particularly that they've come up with their own questions: "We can pass these on to other schools as well."

P6 class teacher Alison Stewart paid tribute to the educational work done by Scarf in schools and said the game works well, both for fun and educationally. "It ties in really well with A Curriculum for Excellence in terms of motivating children for successful learning. Another aspect is developing responsible citizens, and it's made them more aware of the issues."

Scarf also hopes the children will take the energy-saving messages back to their own homes and parents. "Children are also involved at home and they can influence what happens in their own houses. It's a powerful tool," says Mrs Stewart.

So far the Cults pupils seem to have got the message: "I worry that there will be no animals left," says 10-year-old Shannon Rae. "And the icebergs are melting north of the Pole," adds Rebecca Taylor sitting next to her.

Lucy Buchanan, 10, is on the school Eco Council which was instrumental in introducing the wind turbine: "I'm really glad we have it. It will save a lot of energy and save us money as well."


1. Q When will fossil fuels run out? A 50-100 years; B Any time now 2. Q. Where do humans get their energy? A Sleep; B Food; C Batteries 3. Q What is the effect of too much CO2? A Global warming; B The ozone hole

4. Q What is the main polluting gas from fossil fuels? A CO2; B H20

5. Q How much money will a low-energy bulb save in its lifetime? A About Pounds 50; B About pound;10

True or false

6. Q Leaving lights on uses less electricity than switching them on and off.

7. Q A bath uses more energy than a shower.

8. Q Global warming will cause more starvation in hot countries.

9. Q Electric heating produces greenhouse gas.

10. Q Walking produces more carbon dioxide than travelling by car.

Answers: 1 50-100 years; 2 Food; 3 Global warming; 4 CO2; 5 About pound;50; 6 False; 7 True; 8 True; 9 True; 10 False Questions from the Scarf Energy Game

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