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What is Lagoonology? Lagoonology™ is an environmental education board game that instructs students about the impacts of man and nature upon the Indian River Lagoon (IRL) on the east coast of central Florida. 

Who is the target audience? Future stakeholders need to be informed and sensitized to the environmental problems facing the IRL. This game is appropriate for students in grades 4-12. Lagoonology™ is also a great learning experience for any person or group concerned with social, economic, and political issues involving watersheds and other bodies of water. Basically, there is no age limitation.

What is the problem? Decades of human neglect, inaction, irresponsibility and forces of nature have seriously degraded the Indian River Lagoon estuary system that encompasses 156 miles of the Florida coast from Ponce Inlet near Daytona Beach south to Jupiter Inlet.  Over 4300 species of plants and animals make their home within the system and many of the species are being compromised, or worse, every year. 

The game contents: Lagoonology™ is unique. An entire class of students can actively participate in the game because the board rolls out to 10’ x 4’. The oversized layout accommodates over 20 students; 12-14 sitting directly at the board.  A smaller 5' x 2' game surface is also available for tabletop and small group play. The colorful graphics are printed on rugged 15 oz lay-flat exterior vinyl for durability. Grommets reinforce corners and are useful for hanging the game. Game pieces are included in a cotton muslin drawstring bag. The board and bag are packaged in a sturdy cardboard storage box. Game pieces include 4 varnished birchwood pawns, 112 laminated impact and asset cards, and 2 sets of die. Instructions are clear and concise and included in the package.

A full length map of the Indian River Lagoon estuary system is the centerpiece and focus of the game. Towns and other points of interest are labeled so students can relate to the size of the lagoon system.  Even without playing the game, the board is a useful teaching tool and a 60" x 24" version of just the IRL map is available for purchase.

The graphics and art are original and copyrighted by the author.

The Game. Lagoonology is designed to be completed in one or two classroom sessions, depending upon the instructors’ needs. The concept of the game is simple by design. There are four teams designated to play the game, each representing an important impactor on the IRL:

  • Business
  • Agriculture
  • Recreation
  • Community

Each team is provided six valuable assets:

  • Red Mangrove
  • Sea Grass
  • Florida Manatee
  • Osprey
  • Bottlenose Dolphin
  • Red Drum

Each team also receives 16 positive or negative IMPACT cards. 

Game Play: The Agriculture team begins play. A team member rolls the die and advances its game piece along the dots. Upon landing, another team member picks up and reads an IMPACT card. These cards are the key learning tool in Lagoonology. The card will describe either a positive or negative impact. If positive, the team will receive an additional asset from the instructor. If negative, the team must turn over one of their asset cards. The instructor has the option of expanding upon or commenting on the impact selected. There are 8 positive and 8 negative impacts for each team.

At the end of the allotted time, the team with the most assets wins the game. No one loses!

What is the benefit? Lagoonology™ brings the IRL problems into focus in an informative and entertaining way. We have demonstrated the game with students from grade 4 to 12, environmental organizations, scientists and school district science resource coordinators. Their collective feedback has allowed us to fine tune Lagoonology to meet educational standards. 

This is not a video game. Lagoonology is designed to engage students around a giant game board and to learn about what is happening to the precious water we live next to. The game provides face to face competition within the classroom.

Before and after game play: Initially, and before specific standards are identified,it is we suggest the instructor allow for three class sessions to play the game. In vastly simple terms:

  1. Spend one class period teaching the students about the Indian River Lagoon; the biodiversity, local importance, and environmental problems.
  2. Play the game.
  3. Visit the lagoon and discuss the issues.

Meets Florida science education standards today: Lagoonology meets several of the Next Generation Sunshine State Standards (NGSSS). Detailed and specific curricula will be developed in 2020 with a consortium of scientists and educators. 

Who are we? Lagoonology was created and developed by John Buck, a resident of Rockledge in Brevard County, Florida. The original concept was conceived as his thesis at Ohio State entitled "Learner Interaction with Visual Curricular Material, a model of Application of Design for enabling Wetland Awareness in Environmental Education." John and his partner Julie Shorrock have formed an company called H2Ology, LLC in order to market Lagoonology and other environmental education games in research and development now. We are members of the Florida Association of Science Teachers (F.A.S.T.)