POLAR ECLIPSE (TM)

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“Polar Eclipse™ is a game where time meets temperature. It’s interactive and surprising. Designed for global citizens eight years and up. If you make it into the future while getting cooler, you will survive.”

The game board for Polar Eclipse consists of over 400 squares with degrees from 80 to 100 on the y-axis and years from 2000 to 2020 on the x-axis. Movement on the board is determined by two decks of cards, one of EVENT cards and one of ARCTIC cards, in addition to a die with years in the 21st century on it. The game can accommodate up to 5 players with playing pieces of five different species: a redwood tree, a mallard, a human, a sea turtle, and a cheetah. The object is to get one player to land on the bottom right hand square, at the intersection of 80 degrees and the year 2020. It’s marked, “You survive!”

All of the players begin at the 90 degree line and roll the die to see how far they advance from west to east. Once all the players are situated on the board, they choose to roll the die or pick an EVENT card for their turn. A sample negative EVENT CARD is, Airplane travel is booming. New and old planes fill the sky. Fasten your seat belt and heat up four degrees. On the positive, there’s this one: Thanks to the Endangered Species Act and banning the use of DDT on crops, the bald eagle population is soaring. Join the player furthest in the future and pick an Arctic card. The ARCTIC cards come into play when the EVENT card tells a player to pick one up or when a player lands on a square with a photograph. Each ARCTIC card has either a multiple choice question for the individual player to answer (the correct responses are in the Rules and Reference Guide) or a discussion question for everyone in the group to weigh in on (and then move the requisite number of spaces.) Sample discussion questions: What is an example of how humans can be wasteful? and If you were president of the United States, what would you do to slow down global warming and protect the environment?

 I tried a sample round of Polar Eclipse with two other teachers. We each had a chance to encounter some facts we hadn’t previously known, and we were interested to collaborate on the group discussion questions. The game is targeted to 8 years old and up, but in my opinion it’s the rare eight year old who could fully engage with this game. I’d put the starting age at nine and a half. Keeping track of rows and columns on the board was difficult for those of us who are spatially challenged, notwithstanding the alternating colors of the checkerboard. But I want to give this game two thumbs up for being the front-runner in putting the issue of climate change on the table in living rooms all across America!