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Science Board Games Suggestions

By Emer Kelly, APC PhD student and co-founder of tabletopCork


Playing board games has many documented benefits, such as promoting socialisation for Alzheimer’s sufferers, a reduction in depression in persons suffering from dementia, engaging children with autism spectrum disorder in socially-based activities, and enhancing the numerical knowledge for children from low-income families. The teaching potential of board games has even been employed to aid in the training of midwives in East Africa.

tabletopCork is a boardgame cafe ( ) which recently opened and encourages participants to put away their phones and engage in an adventure with (or against!) their friends in a sociable environment.  With two scientists as co-founders, of tabletopCork, we love games which are science themed and games which include science theory in the game play and design. Playing a board game is an active process, engaging individuals in a fun, educational and interactive way.

These are my top five science themed board games:

  1. Evolution

In Evolution players adapt their species to survive in a competitive and diverse ecosystem. There are a vast amount of behavioural and physical traits available, and all in different combinations. Evolution was featured recently in a Nature Education article; “Evolution features sophisticated biology. Traits can be put together in a dizzying array of combinations, so each game can be very different. The theme of evolution is not just tacked on: it drives play.”

  1. EcoChains: Artic Crisis

Another highly-rated, Nature featured board game, EcoChains is a multiplayer card game about the struggle for survival in the rapidly warming Arctic. Players build food chains as they learn about Arctic ecosystems and how humans impact the environment. Arctic scientist and educator Prof. Stephanie Pfirman, and game designer, Dr Joey Lee, worked together on the game design and development.

  1. Timeline: Discoveries

Timeline: Discoveries is a very simple and quick game where players add a scientific discovery card from their hand to the growing timeline of cards. Each discovery card has to be played in the correct chronological order. If the card is placed correctly, it stays on the timeline, the first player to play all of their cards into the timeline wins!

  1. Pandemic Iberia

Pandemic Iberia is set in the Iberian Peninsula in 1848, when malaria, typhus, yellow fever and cholera were prevalent diseases. It is a co-operative game, where all players have to work together in order to research and cure the diseases. Each payer has their own character, such as the nurse, railwayman or rural doctor, all in possession of their own special abilities. Throughout the game the player will be slowing the spread of disease by purifying and distributing water, building hospitals and researching the diseases.

  1. Nefarious

Nefarious is a fun game in which the players act as scientists racing to build inventions, and take over the world. Inventions include: a cloning machine, a space elevator, a volcano activator, and many more……. the more ridiculous the better!

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