Teaching Science

Dec 2023


Daybreak is a cooperative boardgame about stopping climate change. It presents a hopeful vision of the near future, where you get to build the mind-blowing technologies and resilient societies we need to save the planet.

Daybreak is designed by Matt Leacock, creator of the hit game Pandemic, and Matteo Menapace. The box is absolutely stuffed with sustainable components, featuring hundreds of original illustrations by a diverse team of (human) artists from around the world.

Daybreak is for 1-4 players, ages 10+, and takes 60-90 minutes to play.

Daybreak is an excellent game, but too complicated for most grade ten students to manage on their own. If you have a bright class you could run it as a group activity. It helps that play is asynchronous and simultaneous within phases. The linked website has rules and a how-to-play video, so you can decide if it's within your students' capabilities. If you do decide to get it, the publishers have a program for teachers; the link is on the website.

Aside from being a really fun game with great art (and sustainably made, too), Daybreak has great resources for teaching climate science. Each action card has a QR code leading to a page on their website that gives background and explains both the real-world and in-game effects of the action, as well as providing links to further information and actions that can be taken to implement it in the real world. This resource alone makes me happy I supported the game, because these summaries are at just the right level for my students.

Here is an example:

Fossil Fuel Subsidies Ban
Around the world, energy produced using fossil fuels is made cheaper by government subsidies. Subsidies can include governments announcing discounts on energy bills, lowering costs for customers; or they can be direct payments to companies that extract fossil fuels and produce energy from them. In 2020, worldwide fossil fuel subsidies totalled US$5.9 trillion, or 6.8% of global GDP.

They might lower prices, but subsidies come at a high cost. By encouraging the burning of fossil fuels, these subsidies contribute to the climate emergency, cause ill health and premature death from air pollution, and mostly benefit wealthier people, as they rarely target poorer groups. Subsidies have also held back the growth in renewable energy by making fossil fuels artificially cheap.

At the UN climate conference (COP26) in 2021, countries agreed to accelerate the phase-out of some fossil fuel subsidies. This could open up much needed funding and make it easier for renewable energy infrastructure to take off. But, despite the huge benefits of doing this, many countries have found it difficult to reform their energy subsidies. This is partly because it can lead to a temporary increase in energy prices, which impacts citizens, leading to a political backlash. Fossil fuel companies are also effective at lobbying governments to keep subsidies.

Linked in the grade 10 climate unit.