CLIMAQUEST: Planting the seeds of environmental change in young minds across Trinidad and Tobago

 A UNDP representative shows off the CLIMAQUEST game to students

In primary and secondary schools all across Trinidad and Tobago students are being educated about the environment; issues and solutions. The question is, how to keep young minds conscious of the issues surrounding environmental change. Students and teachers of Parvati Girls’ Hindu College in Debe, South Trinidad found a simple, innovative way of coaching young minds in becoming a catalyst for positive environmental change. With the help of the Global Environment Facility Small Grants Programme (GEF SGP) implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) they created “CLIMAQUEST” a board game that will be placed in primary and secondary school around Trinidad and Tobago. US$48,662.20 was allocated by the GEF SGP to design, manufacture and distribute this interactive “edutainment” board game.

Kavita Samaroo, a chemistry, biology and integrated science teacher of Parvati Girls’ Hindu College, spearheaded this initiative together with a team of four (4) teachers from the school, explained that the aim of Climaquest,  “.....is to educate children about climate change, the causes, effects and solutions to climate change and how it pertains to the Caribbean, specifically Trinidad and Tobago.”

Climaquest is designed to be used as a teaching tool in all primary and secondary schools across the country to reinforce the lessons being taught about climate change and the environment; it will be accompanied by various lesson plans to guide teachers. The game creates an ideal platform for educating young minds about the environment in a manner which the creators are confident will be easy to grasp and remember. Ms Samaroo explained that the game, “ Teaches children about how climate change affects our local species, being the manatees, leatherback turtles, golden tree frogs and how climate change affects our economy.”

Consistent with an environmentally sensitive approach, the board game is manufactured from environmentally friendly material such as recycled paper, soil based ink, corn-starch and hand crafted tokens. The board is divided into a properties and locations in T and T and allows players purchase and preserve them while either receiving rewards or penalties based on environmental practices related to climate change. The object of the game is to accumulate assets that are sustainable and environmentally friendly but Shivana Seebalack, a student of Parvati Girls’ Hindu College shared how she benefitted a lot more, “In this game, you learn how to manage your money and assets, it is a life teaching game. I rather play Climaquest than be on social media because it is very interesting and fun.”

 A closer look at the Climaquest game that will soon be seen in schools across Trinidad and Tobago and the wider Caribbean in 2015. Photo Source: UNDP Trinidad and Tobago

Climaquest, is a product of extensive research done by Parvati Girls’ Hindu College with the help of the Small Grants Programme. Technical advice was sourced from renewable energy and climate change experts and curriculum officers to ensure the game was technically correct. It has been tested in eight (8) randomly selected schools across the country  including Tobago and based on user experiences of students and teachers alike, the game has been tweaked to produce an even better final product and will distributed to schools in 2015.