Scenario-based learning game lets students design forest-friendly virtual worlds

©FAO

22 March 2018, Rome, Italy – Using a newly launched scenario-based learning game, pre-teens can try their hand at building a better world in the classroom — one based on a deeper understanding of the ways in which forests and trees can make our cities greener, healthier and happier places to live.

The game, Build your city forest: Create a greener, healthier and happier world, was developed in collaboration with the Danish-based educational gaming company, Build a World EDU (BAW) and a free beta version has been launched for testing in classrooms as part of FAO’s celebrations to mark the International Day of Forests. BAW develops scenario-based learning games that challenge students to solve real-world problems while developing 21st century learning skills.

Designed by teachers for teachers, BAW’s educational tools are based on the ‘building with blocks’ games popularized by Lego and made virtual by Minecraft. In block games, worlds are made with building blocks that take the form and colours of real-world materials and shapes. Teachers run scenarios in a week long program in this virtual world that challenges students to work in teams to solve problems together, think critically, pool knowledge, apply their imaginations, and experiment.

©Build A World EDU
The game was developed with funding from the Austrian Federal Ministry of Sustainability and Tourism and is intended to teach students aged 10-11 the benefits of urban forests and trees. These benefits, which coincide with the theme for this year’s International Day of Forests, Forests and Sustainable Cities, include the provision of food and materials for heating, reduced noise and air pollution, lower city temperatures, improved water flow and quality, and the sequestration of carbon dioxide related to climate change.

Today, when more than half of the world’s population lives in urban areas, a number expected to rise to as much as 70 percent by 2050, it is more critical than ever for children to develop an awareness and understanding of urban forests and trees and their essential benefits.

“Teaching children about the many benefits of trees and forests, particularly in cities, is critical,” said FAO’s Assistant Director-General of Forestry, Hiroto Mitsugi. “This learning game will raise awareness among today’s children of the sustainable use and conservation of forests and will encourage the young adults of tomorrow to make responsible decisions about the environment, an essential step to safeguarding natural resources for future generations.”

The game is currently available in English for Windows and Linux and will be available for Android, tablets and Google Chromebooks later this year. Spanish and French versions will also be available soon. Schools interested in testing can download a free beta version of the game for testing at the following link: http://www.fao.org/international-day-of-forests/for-kids/build-a-world

last updated:  Thursday, April 5, 2018