Hi! I'm Hannah Rowlands, and this is a photo of my cat, Sundance. I'm the project manager for Red Redemption, which is the company making the ClimateX website. I'm currently working on a computer game, called Operation Climate Control, which is designed for GCSE-year school pupils to play, and learn about climate change in the classroom. Our previous game, Climate Challenge, can be played on the BBC website, and you find links to it on the ClimateX website.
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- Hannah Rowlands
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We are pleased to announce that Operation: Climate Control will
be launched at the beginning of July at the House of Commons.
Because it's a limited space venue, the launch event will be
As you can see, we now have some really funky graphics for the
We'll be doing beta-testing of the game towards the end of June,
and once the game is launched, we'll be looking to get it into as
many schools and youth groups as possible.
If you're interested in helping with testing, or just playing or
using the game, please let us know.
This post isn't much to do with climate change, more to do with the seasons changing. Yesterday was what I felt to be one of the first days of spring, and I happened to be in Trinity College, so I soaked in the sunshine and took some photos of the beautiful gardens. I hope you enjoy them! And I hope the nice weather lasts (I think it's actually already raining...)
Well, I finally got round to watching An Inconvenient Truth a few days ago, thanks to Jo lending me a copy of the DVD from the ClimateX library, and me being on a long train journey!
It wasn't as depressing as I thought it would be, in fact it reminded why I like working in climate change communications.
I thought Al Gore explained the causes and impacts of climate change very clearly, and quite a few of the things I had read about before were strengthened in my mind by the visuals he used, like the shrinking glaciers and the collapsing ice sheets in Antarctica. Al Gore's obviously a skilled and experienced speaker, and I thought he got the pacing right, making a few jokes, but not being too heavy, rather keeping a relatively neutral tone. I say relatively neutral, since it's an emotive topic, and I think the impact of his talk would be reduced if he became hysterical about it.
He addressed the sceptics, which is appropriate, especially in the US, but also for people who have only heard about climate change in the media, who, as he demonstrated (with the analysis that 100% of scientific papers about climate change in the last 10 years have supported climate change, whereas 53% of media articles assessed in a study questioned it), are understandably confused by the information presented to them. I also think he spent an appropriately short amount of time on the sceptics, since, as he says, the consensus is clear, and really the question is now what we do about it.
I think he put climate change in context, by discussing other major changes in civilisation, such as the discovery that smoking causes cancer, or the development of nuclear weapons, and how humanity has had to adapt and deal with these changes. The end, especially, where he shows all the other great achievements of humanity in recent times, is very powerful. If we could achieve all that, if we can put a man on the Moon, surely we can deal with climate change, if only we put our minds to it. It makes you wonder why on earth we aren't already doing more, why we haven't already done all the things to reduce emissions.
I'm afraid I couldn't help but wonder, when they reminded me how close the 2000 election was, what the world would have been like if Gore had become President. Probably not as wonderful as Gore might like to suggest it would have been, but at least the US would probably have signed Kyoto, taken steps in the right direction, rather than walked off in totally the opposite direction.
Nevertheless, better Gore is trying to wake Americans up now, than not at all, and I hope it does that. I certainly had an element of shaming American viewers into action, which is one way of doing it. He also appealed to future generations, which is another way. He mostly avoided the awful doom and gloom I had been anticipating, but maybe I'm becoming immune to the worst of that now, and other viewers would find the film depressing.
Overall, I think the film was reasoned and rational, humourous and well-paced. He brought his personal experiences into it, bringing the global problem home, but it clear that this is a global problem, which needs to be tackled by everyone, and tackled now. As an introduction to climate change, it filled in a lot of the details about the science and the history, and clears up many of the misconceptions. I was impressed, and I hope many many people see it.
Gobion's already posted about this, but we were invited along to meet all the other Climate Challenge Fund projects by Defra last week. It was a whole day event, with some short workshops on media training and evaluation of communication work. There was also a "speed-dating" session where we were encouraged to go up and talk to anyone and everyone there.
It was quite exhilerating, and also slightly exhausting, meeting so many people all doing such interesting and worthwhile projects. I've been really impressed by how Defra have been encouraging the projects to work together and exchange resources or contact networks. Since there a few projects working in similar areas to us, either making games or working in schools, there's a lot of potential for positive reinforcement, rather than repetition, which might happen if we didn't talk to each other.
I'm now really confident that when we've made our Operation: Climate Control Game, we'll be able to get it out to loads of senior schools throughout England.
I was lucky enough to be invited to a Tipping Point event last
night, at the Royal
Court Theatre in Sloane Square.
We had short talks by Siobhan Davies, a choreographer
who'd been up to the Arctic as part of Cape Farewell, and Malcolm McCullough who works at
the Engineering Department at Oxford, researching technological
solutions to climate change.
After that we were allowed to just meet people and network in
the bar area, and I met some really interesting people, whom I
would never normally get to meet. For example, I got chatting to
Anne Brodie, an
artist who got to spend 3 months living and working at the British
Antarctic Survey base in Antarctica. She's now working on an art
project using bioluminescent bacteria, and is also having a chunk
of ice shipped over from Antarctica to sculpt.
What I really appreciated about the Tipping Point event was how
they set it up so that you felt you could approach anyone and just
chat with them. It was really invigorating.
I also spoke to a bunch of people about engaging school children
with the climate change problem, and came away with some useful
contacts and some useful ideas about how to approach the problem,
which I'm planning to feed into our Operation Climate Control
It was really interesting meeting all the other climate explorers last week. I was very impressed by the range of people and interests there.
As I said at the meeting, I'm happy to help people with posting to blogs and that sort of thing, although, looking at the website since the meeting, I don't think you're going to need that much help - you're doing so well already!
I look forward to getting to know people during the project, and I wish everyone the best of luck with their explorations!
A few weeks ago, we were lucky enough to meet Defra's Climate Change Champions, a group of really smart, switched-on teenagers. We had an hour with seven of the Champions, during which we got them to pair up and play our recent game, "Climate Challenge", then discussed the game with them, and got their thoughts on how we should adapt it for schools and players their age.
They came up with some really useful feedback, telling us which bits they liked and which bits they didn't. They were particularly keen about being able to pick an avatar at the beginning, and choosing their president's name, as it personalised the game for them. They said the game showed how hard it is being president, and the decisions and compromises you have to make.
We also got some ideas on how to modify the game, which is aimed at adults, to make it more appealing to a younger audience. We hope this will make Operation: Climate Control Game a much better game as a result.
Overall, I was really impressed by the Champions. They know so much more about climate change and politics than I did at their age! And they are all really motivated and articulate. I wish them all lots of success for the future!
The nice people at Defra filmed the young climate champions playing our game, "Climate Challenge", and we've put the 1-minute video up on our website:
It's really exciting to see them playing and enjoying the game - thanks again to the champions for their enthusiasm and their feedback!
As the initial stage of the development of Operation: Climate Control, we've been talking to science and geography teachers who are interested in our project to provide us with feedback on our initial High Concept Document, so that the game is suitable for Key Stages 3 and 4 students, and is appropriately designed for classroom use.
We want to make sure the game is focused on the needs of the teacher, the student and the curriculum. We are interested in how the teacher would want such a game to be designed, how they would use it, how much time and resources they would want to give it etc.
The feedback we've received has been really useful in focusing our design plans. Special thanks go to Claire Cooke, Jon Gray, John Harris and Ewan Drysdale.
If you are a school teacher, or a pupil, who would be interested in helping us with Operation: Climate Control, please let us know by leaving a message on this blog!
I'm the project manager for Operation: Climate Control, which is another Defra Climate Challenge Fund awardee.
The core of the project will be a fun and engaging multi-player computer game, for GCSE year school pupils (15-16), where the player's role is to decide on local environmental policy, and interact with the other players to decide global policy.
The game will be supported by an online teachers resource pack, including lesson plans and background reading material which will place the game within the school curriculum. The OCCG will be designed for a classroom environment, with close supervision by the teacher, and should encourage discussion and collaborative decision-making.
Pupils will learn about the different impacts and solutions to climate change, which will raise their awareness of these concerns, and promote positive attitudinal change with a feeling of personal empowerment. Pupils will take away the positive message that climate change is a real and immediate challenge that can be tackled successfully but which requires co-operative solutions. The OCCG will not proscribe any one solution to climate change, rather players will learn through a fun process of trial and and error about differing solutions.
The OCCG will build on the 'Climate Challenge Game' made by Redemption Ltd, with Oxford University Centre for the Environment and the BBC (as part of their Climate Chaos Season). The science behind the OCCG will be provided by leading climate scientists from Oxford University.
The game and associated website will be freely available for schools and other educational institutions in England.