While most of us here are gearing up for Gen Con, a group out of the UK is hoping to use games as a gateway to science education. Chrysalis Youth Empowerment Network is a Birmingham-based charity that aims to help children and young adults in Africa. The organization sponsors a school in Omoro, Uganda, that also happens to host, "the largest library of boardgames in Uganda," according to their website.
It's probably no surprise that a school that offers boardgaming as an extracurricular activity would play host to a convention, but this year they're trying something new. In addition to hosting a jam-packed schedule of boardgames, tabletop RPGs, and a LARP session, the convention will also feature numerous science experiments designed to get kids aged 8-15 interested in STEM. As the crowdfunding campaign puts it:
"We believe that far too many children in rural areas get an impression while still young that science is too hard for them and they need encouragement into the sciences. One of our young people - Peter - that we started supporting in 2011 recently graduated as a doctor and has started operating in a disadvantaged area. If more rural children became doctors and scientists, then we might see reduced infant mortality and early deaths from malaria before children build up their immunities. Mixing science games and science experiments is our way of affecting lives in our remote location."
Chrysalis Youth Empowerment Network hopes to raise £2,650, or about $3,500, to help with program expenses that range from purchasing new games to providing food, bedding, and mosquito nets for attendees. They currently plan to host 150 children, but will be able to host up to twice as many if they reach their first stretch goal of £5,000. (If they hit their final stretch goal of £7,500, they'll be able to host a three-day sports tournament after the gaming convention ends.) To learn more about the project and its progress, check out the Uganda Village Boardgame Convention and Science Camp page on Crowdfunder.co.uk.
-- Katie Duffy