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This game is an expansion on the popular board game Catan, it adapts the regular Catan game to become a game about sustainability and climate change. It's a neat idea, but teachers must already own the game and know how to play it.

This game-based learning would be great for after-school activities, environmental clubs, or a 'free' period in school. The amount of setup needed to get the game going and explain the rules may be too involved for regular classroom use.

This learning activity takes 2.5 hours.

Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

Notes From Our Reviewers The CLEAN collection is hand-picked and rigorously reviewed for scientific accuracy and classroom effectiveness. Read what our review team had to say about this resource below or learn more about how CLEAN reviews teaching materials
Teaching Tips | Science | Pedagogy | Technical Details

Teaching Tips

  • This could be a fun game to have on hand for free time, clubs, or other educational 'down time.' Students can play a board game and still address aspects of science standards associated with climate change.
  • Ambitious teachers could set this up as a virtual game to be played in a Google Hangout or similar environment.
  • This could be a good activity for an extension or adaptation for screen-free virtual/distance learning. Teachers may decide to offer the game as an extra credit and loan the game out to students who are interested, if students do not have access themselves.

About the Content

  • Catan: Global Warming, is a complex board game showing players how their decisions and choices regarding agriculture, mining, and urban development are related to global climate change. As settlers of a new land, students see how developing the land and expanding population creates more greenhouse gas. It uses information from the IPCC 5th assessment report and describes the reasoning and scientific basis for the different aspects of the game in the "Design Notes" document.
  • Comments from expert scientist: This resource incorporates topics such as greenhouse gas emissions, resource use and collective action into a popular board game. This is a creative resource that could be used to introduce global warming or motivate discussion. The ways in which greenhouse gas concentrations rise or fall are very generalized and cartoonish. However, given that this is a board game and the necessity to work within the original structure of Catan, this seems fine. I do worry a little that the structure of the game promotes the message that climate destruction is an inevitable or that solutions are difficult and counter to development and progress. That said, I think this game could be a very effective way to engage students and initiate these conversations.

About the Pedagogy

  • This is an expansion pack for the popular board game Catan. Teachers can use this board game to help students explore different aspects of climate change. Students will have to consider the environmental and economic impacts their decisions have as they build agriculture and cities to try to win the game.
  • This activity can be done in small groups with multiple versions of the game or as a classroom activity by having students play in teams. This could be a good fun day or game day activity that still addresses learning goals associated with climate change. Teachers will need a copy of Catan to play this expanded version of the game.
  • The game offers an unconventional way to learn about climate change, and there are opportunities for cooperative discussions and decisions on how to develop the land and expand a community sustainably. The storyline is legitimate, and allows for unlimited combinations of scenarios and outcomes for students to explore, but this is a game and not anchored in any real life examples.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • There are different rules to this expansion game than for the regular version of Catan. These are included with the PDF of resources, which is fairly complex to read. For those already familiar with Catan, it will be quicker to learn. Teachers may want to play this version without students to get a sense for the rules, as they are somewhat complex. The game developers include tips for implementing this in the classroom in the "Design Notes" document.

Related URLs These related sites were noted by our reviewers but have not been reviewed by CLEAN

Entered the Collection: April 2021 Last Reviewed: June 2019

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