CO2peration is a 3D-interactive climate science game designed to teach everyone how climate change works. There are 5 main world-first innovations incorporated into our game:
1. We have found a way to overcome the formation of idiosyncratic worldview opinions that are formed without the aid of expert opinion. This barrier has been the most pernicious and destructive element in trying to foster understanding and engagement;
2. We teach climate science as a series of narratives to explain the processes and mechanisms that drive the physical causes of climate change. Unlike most climate outreach interventions, we don’t use ‘fear appeals’ or ask them to ‘govern a city’ because these undermine the validity of scientific findings and/or paralyze people into inaction;
3. Our game is aimed at 12-13-year-olds as they have distinctive cognitive abilities that are uniquely receptive to understanding climate science in a way that no other age group can. Interestingly, they are also the group that is the most worried about climate change. Our game improves hope and engagement as an outcome of climate literacy;
4. CO2peration is a 3D interactive visualization of climate science in action. Our brains prefer 3D, virtual worlds, and simulations over text and lectures. Learning in 3D interactive environments can improve learning outcomes by up to 80%;
5. We have developed a pedagogical and curriculum framework to specifically teach climate science in a way that deals with it’s so-called ‘wickedness’, supports teachers and fits into the science curriculum in secondary public high schools all around the world. Although our game is targeted at lower high school, it has also been cleverly designed for everyone. It teaches everything you need to know to develop an informed opinion about climate change.
With the support of a 5-year research project that underpins the theory behind the game, it promises to be the most powerful tool ever created to reach, inform and engage the most important audiences and put the science back in climate change debate.
Objectives and beneficiaries
- Revisit accepted climate communication practice and search for overlooked opportunities;
- Amalgamate the most recent literature, the most effective tools, methods, and best-practice in the climate communication arena into one coherent, constructive model;
- Develop a best-practice curriculum and pedagogical climate literacy framework for communicators and teachers (involving both students and teachers in the development process);
- Respond to the concern and anxiety of 12-13-year-olds in relation to climate change by introducing the consequences and impacts of climate change after they have understood the underlying causes and mechanisms. Research has shown that this improves hope and courage to address the climate issue;
- Build a 3D interactive game on climate science that would be an engaging, fun, complete and comprehensive course on the phenomena.
Beneficiaries: students, teachers, public education, society, governors and politicians, scientists, parents.
Strong points of the solution
Our approach is the first effective treatment to overcome the ‘worldview barrier’. It has been widely accepted climate change education didn’t work because, once an opinion was established, this could not be changed. As valid as this is for adults, none looked into when this worldview began, and if there was an opportunity to intervene at an earlier age to help students inform their opinion. Our 5-year research project that underpins the theory behind the game found that early adolescents haven't yet developed a worldview and are a vital (if not the most essential) target group for climate communication interventions. Our game provides the scientific basis of climate change on which they can construct an informed worldview. Adolescents are also the largest age group on Earth, making them an ideal target simply from sheer size.
Finally, our approach wrenches control back from 'alternative facts' and ‘fake news’ and puts it back in its rightful place: science.
Expected results and benefits for climate change adaptation and mitigation
We expect that, as early adolescents become familiar with the underlying science of climate change causes, there will be a stronger demand from the public mandating better political engagement and governance on this issue; investing in infrastructure and innovations that will build resilience and strengthen climate-friendly behaviors as a social norm. We can expect them to desire a society that embeds resilience and sustainability. We can expect, once our youth have a better understanding of how the climate works, to see more young people choosing climate-relevant careers and coming up with new, paradigm-shifting solutions and technologies both in mitigation and adaptation. Previous research that has informed this project also shows that young people have a very powerful voice in the socio-political arena, as exemplified in the recent youth crusade against gun violence in the US.
Scalability potential of the solution
Our vision was always to see our game designed in a way that it could be rolled out in every classroom around the world.
As part of the research project, we ensured that this game corresponded to the essential components of the global science curriculum as the pedagogical framework is similar between countries. Critically, to know where to start, we also pre-tested students about their knowledge. Then we increased the complexity of the material (based on the results of the testing) to meet the increasing intellectual development as they grow up. Our game was designed to be flexible and scalable in order to create a game for every grade that specifically fits their abilities. We also tested the game in different languages and found that there were no differences in understanding and outcomes across the cultures. Finally, CO2peration was designed to work in any language that can be changed from the user interface. We have English, French, German, and Italian so far.
As part of our research project, we enlisted 6 schools to participate in our research (and obtained the necessary approvals required to do this: ethical clearance, working with children permits, 3 departments of education permission, school director approval, and teacher participation). As a result of this, we have strong working relationships with all these stakeholders in Vienna, Austria, and Australia who would support an initial roll-out of the game (with a view to expanding this once the language versions are prepared). In addition, the game has already been pre-ordered from 4 international schools.
[Editor's Note: All information published as submitted by the author(s). Minor edits may have been made for length and clarity.]