When a hurricane hit Detroit on Mike Stormberg's board game piece Monday morning, he knew that would cost him.
”Pay $50,000 to clean up your city,” 17-year-old Mike read aloud as he pulled the hurricane card from a pile. ”Dang!”
Mike finished his turn and then waited for the next card, almost as bad: ”Poison in the water supply.”
Mike was one of three Summit High School students Monday who played Dependency, a board game about the environment created by junior Ryan O'Hollaren. The 16-year-old recently won $1,000 for his game in the high school category of the 2006 Inventerprise science contest sponsored by Bend Research Inc.
Based on real smog and carbon dioxide levels in major cities, the game educates people about how to reduce dependence on nonrenewable resources. Up to six players start with a certain level of money and pollution, depending on whether they represent Portland, Los Angeles, Detroit, Chicago, New York or Miami. The player who eliminates his or her dependency first wins the game.
”If you get Portland, you don't have a lot to clean up,” Ryan said. ”But if you get Chicago, you've got a lot to do.”
Players take turns picking cards from a pile that either gives or takes away money to clean up their cities.
Some are simple: ”Educate your students on the realities of pollution and the effect it has on your community (cost: $500,000).” The player simply deducts that money from his or her pot of cash.
Other cards are more complex: ”Local students are upset with the lack of renewable resources being used. They are rioting downtown, and action must be taken.”
The cost - $50,000 to send in riot control.
Ryan said he spent more than a month researching pollution levels and developing a mathematical equation that would rank the cities.
The amount of time and work he put into the project helped him earn $1,000 with Inventerprise, the 15th annual creative science contest for students in Central Oregon.
Each year, the contest poses a question to spark the imaginations of would-be scientists, challenging them to pursue inventive solutions to pressing problems, according to Inventerprise's Web site.
The contest is open to all Central Oregon students, from kindergarten through 12th grade.
Bend Research research chemist Ed LaChapelle praised Ryan for the amount of time he put into the board game.
”It showed he had a grasp of current events,” LaChapelle said. ”And the ability to put it together in a really nice package.”
Ryan's main motivation for creating the game lay simply in educating people. At this point, Ryan said he has no set plans for going into this field of study after high school but became interested after learning about the issue.
”It's to raise awareness about how dirty our cities are,” Ryan said. ”And it's fun to play.”
Mike agreed, although none of the players Monday stood a chance at beating Ryan.
”I always win,” he said. ”It's not really fair to play with me because I know all the moves.”