Urgent need for STE(A)M
The growing effects of climate change, loss of biodiversity and resource scarcity will require societal change and new technical solutions based on new scientific research. It is therefore vital that students see the benefits – for themselves and their societies – of learning national sciences such as biology, chemistry, and physics. Eventually, some of them will become scientists, engineers, and green entrepreneurs and thus be able to make a positive contribution to the green transition towards a sustainable economy.
In Natural Sciences, students often struggle to understand and apply science topics, and have difficulties imagining or realizing their importance and application in real life. Inside a business context, it is easier to call their attention, showing some direct applications of scientific knowledge.
For many students, a clear purpose and a chance to create personal profits will influence their choice of initial career path. As John Doerr, successful venture capitalist and early investor in Google, recently phrased it: “Sustainability is the next computer science”.
During the recent Erasmus+ project Net Zero Didactics, we investigated the possibilities in the board game – The Net Zero Game 2050TM. We have done that with our students aged 14-18 at Prime School in Estoril and Sintra, Portugal.
It combines real-life news stories (including technology news) from normative sources with business economics and GHG emissions.
Showing the importance and positive impact of new technologies such as Carbon Capture and storage (CCS) has proved very beneficial for students. By showing them the big picture – how whole value chains and society are affected by scientific breakthroughs and technological progress – via a simple board game has shown to be a great method to stimulate curiosity in applied science and technology.
The cross-functional nature of the game also makes it possible to do double classes where two teachers of business and science work together in the classroom. This was therefore a useful educational tool to supplement the materials we have covered. Some of the main concepts covered in the board game are environmental and ethical considerations; business objectives; management and leadership; scarcity; external environment; external growth; and stakeholders.
Students have been able to benefit from making the theoretical connection to a physical board game, which has allowed them to translate their knowledge into practice resulting in sticky learning.
A generation of natural-born gamers
Teaching using a board game keeps the students alert and efficiently demonstrates the effect of good and bad decisions and their impact on the environment. Gamification works well with the young generation. Additionally, they also learn about the need for agreements between countries or international organizations that must be reached to save nature and our societies. The winning formula is quite straight-forward: Bundling a clear purpose (save the planet!) with solid science (how we can do it!) and the big picture (how we can do it in practice!) in a board game format (how we can make it fun to do it) has proved to work well in the classroom.
Pictures provided by the author (Attribution CC-By)
About the authors
Sandra Tarré is a Secondary Natural Science teacher. Sandra completed a university degree in Pharmaceutical Sciences at Pharmacy College of the University of Lisbon, followed by postgraduate specializations in Clinical laboratory analysis, later pursued a postgraduate degree and professional training in Educational Sciences at the Open University of Lisbon, and has been teaching the Cambridge curriculum in the last 15 years at Prime School International with two campuses, one in Sintra and the other in Estoril, near Lisbon, Portugal.
Amanda Santos is the Prime School Marketing & Communications Manager. Among other activities, she coordinates and advertises inside and outside the School Community the PEACE event (Programme on Environmental Awareness and Civic Education) – an annual theme-week with themes related to science, society and sustainability, developed by Prime School since 2019.
Additional contributions from Firdaus Latif, Secondary Business Studies and Economics IGCSE and A-Levels Teacher at Prime School International.