Parkopolis: Human-sized Boardgame
Imagine a human-sized board game designed to maximize fun while learning about math and science. Roll the dice to get a 6 ½ or a 3 ¾ and progress along a board with challenge cards, a new kind of hop scotch and a way to test your athleticism. Currently at the Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia and sponsored by New Profit, this board game is so much more than a game. It is a way to stimulate just the kinds of interactions that build strong skills for learning. Designer: Nabil Shahidi.
The Learning Goal
Parkopolis supports children’s playful communication with adults and fellow peers around content in science and math. It encourages collaboration and cooperative game play, creative innovation in creating new rules, and the confidence to persist on challenging activities.
Parkopolis builds ideas about numbers, measuring, and fractions – a stumbling block for many children – into a life-size board game. Children roll “fraction dice” to skip around the board in 1/2 and 3/4 leaps, and draw giant cards that engage them in play that is hands-on and “minds-on”.
An initial pilot was developed in Switzerland through a partnership between Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, Andres Bustamante, the Playful Learning Landscapes Initiative, Christine Riesen and We Are Play Lab, and Nabil Shahidi. A full-scale version of Parkopolis was presented as an exhibit in Philadelphia’s Please Touch Museum in summer 2018.
The pilot was funded by New Profit and Gebert Rüf Foundation. The Philadelphia installation was hosted by the Please Touch Museum.
Early findings suggest that children start talking about fractions, use measurement and number language, and engage in scientific reasoning – just by playing our game! Parkopolis targets STEM learning through pattern recognition and memory. It calls on children to be mentally and physically flexible, moving their bodies in new ways, or measuring their jumps with a giant ruler.