EkoEksperymentarium, play and be part of the change.

Joanna STUDZINSKA
Joanna STUDZINSKA • 29 August 2022

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn”… Scare me and I…? What?

Probably run away from it. So why do we allow that climate change is taught and explained mainly by mass media who live on clicks, fear and scandals?

In 2018 Mamy Projekt were asked to plan some activities around climate change for citizens of Katowice for COP24 Conference. What we discovered after a research was not only lack of knowledge and understanding but fear that was underneath. Most of people were aware that we have a problem but felt scared and paralyzed by media and politicians. Everythnig around ecology seemed to be too difficult, too much effort in vain and so confusing. Changing behaviours is always difficult and here the Great Pacific garbage patch and our everyday life were just too far apart.

We decided to do something that will be simple, straight and with a light of hope. Something that will show us how to care about ourselves and the Planet in everyday life. Something that seem to be small steps and actions to be taken today.

So we made HOME. During many months in Katowice you could come to EkoEksperymentarium, sit on the sofa on our living room and play a simple game learning about energy saving tricks. You were allowed to the bedroom to see how to have less things, there was a bathroom with tips on saving water and kitchen in which you could experiment with less-waste lifehacks. Every piece of knowledge was selected on it’s importance and relevance, double-checked by our scientists (hydrologist, ecologist, ingengieer) and put in simple way by copywriters and illustrators. Green skills put in practice.

Thousands of people visited our home and went home knowing, that there are things they could do to simplify life and make it better for us and the Planet.This exhibition was repeated next year in Łódź Design Festival for 20.000 people and was going to go round all Poland in 2020 but the COVID-19 happened.

This was a crucial moment – EkoEksperymentarium had to either go online or stop so we made it a game. We designed an online home: in each game-room there is a challenge with different games that teach on water, resources, waste, consumerism, biodiversity. We've chosen to start from programme designed for children aged 5-11 because being moms of kids this age we could define their needs and tastes in games and we know how much children can influence parents. Also, we wanted to empower kids, to give them competences and confidence, let them practice behaviours in a game before they use them at home.

 As we knew nothing about game programming and had no funds we could only go creative and hack the system. We built all the game on a platform called Genially, meant originally for business presentations but which was also used in education. Basically we’ve learnt it from Youtube tutorials made by Polish teachers!

The first challenge (about water saving) was enthusiastically received by kids and educators It was free (merit of our partners and sponsors!), it was available and it was safe as we opted for online access and no logins, no data storage. Within few months we built other game-rooms (now there’s five of them), and focused on reaching school and preschool community in Poland. We provide lesson scenarios, worksheets, and tips with links for teachers on where to look for reliable scientific sources of knowledge, we offer them webinars and help. There’s a newsletter with 7000 teachers in it, FB group for ecoeducators with 1300 people, a blog, extra activities such as contests and challenges, an ongoing evaluation programme and a programme that allows each student and teacher get a diplomma in reckognition of their merits of learning or teaching about climate. The games are played over 750.000 times each year.

Every day we are amazed how many teachers and students learn with us and make time for EkoEksperymentarium - and we are grateful for that. The topic of climate change is not a mandatory thing in school curriculum, there are only odd bits of knowledge here and there in textbooks. What we've learned this two years is this: people want to know and want to learn and change their lives. They just want to feel they are not alone and that they can start from small steps and that this is OK.

This year EkoEksperymentarium is back on track as an exhibition with educators working actively with visitors, so we can reach wider and adult publics too. It was presented in Gdynia by the see in summer, now it goes to Wroclaw, then to Warsaw. Also, we are working on online programme for teenagers, it’s not an easy group to work with but we feel we are up for the challene so please, keep your fingers crossed for us!

Comments (5)

Ada Lungu
Ada Lungu

You are so right. I immediately related to the overwhelming effect of fear, as we are experiencing it touching the students involved in our national program, too. I think this approach based on hope and feasibility is the key to tackling eco-anxiety. I would suggest including the link to the website. I found it and it's captivating. Some of it can be translated by google in other languages so I got a hint of how amazing and friendly it is.

Ada Lungu
Ada Lungu

Anna DAVIES Thank you, climatesmart is a great resource. I will add it to the list I published for the challenge "Collecting Climate Education Resources". I am checking out the workshops, they are captivating.


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