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Climate Casino should excite secondary vocational education students about climate

Introducing secondary vocational education students to topics such as climate and sustainability in a playful and stimulating way: that is the aim of the Climate Casino. Joeri Reinders, assistant professor at Leiden University College, received an NWO grant for this project.

Many young people, including secondary vocational education (mbo) students, have questions about the impact of climate change on our society. Yet it proves difficult to reach this group: long, scientific articles do not catch on and websites are not frequently visited. This is how the idea of the Climate Casino was born: a Serious Game in which young people answer questions about the climate. Joeri Reinders: ‘The project stems from the Climate Helpdesk, a Dutch foundation of which I am a board member. This is a voluntary organisation of scientists that answers questions from society about climate change. A year ago, we created a game with Frank Goethals of Studio Tegenwind: the Climate Casino.’ 

The idea of a casino came about because climate change is a topic in which possibilities play a big role. Reinders: ‘When you talk about climate change, it's more about the possible risks than about concrete events, but people often don't think like that. We want to encourage people to think about what the possible risks are. For example, it is very relevant to look at the probability of the sea level rising by three or four metres, precisely because the consequences would be much bigger.’ 

Players bet chips

The climate croupier and the climate scientist

In the Climate Casino, players sit down with a climate croupier and a climate scientist to answer several quiz questions on climate change. Players can bet chips, indicating how sure they are of their answer. Reinders: ‘Betting the chips is the casino touch we have given to the game. For example, players can bet 15 chips if they are very sure of their answer. If it's right, we double the bet. If it's wrong, we take the chips.’ 

With the money from the grant (about 50,000 euros), Reinders wants to develop the Climate Casino further: ‘We want to make the game into a board game, so that we can market it more widely. A student assistant is going to help us develop the questions and Frank Goethals of Studio Tegenwind is again going to deal with the design. Of course, we also need to test the game: we want to do this with a test panel, but we also want to see if we can do something in The Hague, as a sustainability agreement has just been signed there. That might be a nice starting point for us.’

‘It is important to create awareness among mbo students why their profession is changing so much’ 

Focus on mbo students

The intention is that the Climate Casino will eventually be distributed to mbo schools. Reinders: ‘We specifically chose this target group for two reasons. Firstly, mbo students are much more practical: there is no point in presenting them with very long, academic pieces of text. A game is much more interactive. In addition, these students are the people who will ultimately be most affected by the climate transition: their profession is going to change a lot. It is important to create awareness of why that is the case. Through the game, we offer students an opportunity to discuss what they find important.’

‘The climate transition has already started’

Reinders thinks it is important to pay attention to how climate change is communicated to the wider public: ‘Climate change is one of the biggest challenges we face, not only from an ecological point of view. The climate transition has already started a long time ago and we need to get as many people as possible on board with that, but that means that everyone needs to understand what the problem is exactly.’ 

Building the bridge between science and the public is an important but sometimes difficult task: ‘Scientists do not always take into account how to communicate properly to the public. Not everyone can do it and not everyone wants to put effort into it, but it is very important that we continue to make that effort together, especially on topics like climate. That is why we have to think about what tone we take and what is activating.’ 

Text: Nadine Louissen 

Do you have questions about climate change? The Climate Helpdesk has a network of more than 300 scientists who answer all kinds of climate change questions: from questions about the clothing industry to questions about climate strikes.

Have a look at the website of the Climate Helpdesk (in Dutch)
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