This news is just in from the Hix Institute for Research and Conservation folks. Not only were polar bears the focus of the 2012 Indianapolis Prize winner, Dr. Steve Amstrup of Polar Bears International, the newest activity for the Hix Institute for Research and Conservation’s interactive exhibit, Conservation Station, Polar Bear Plunge, was introduced in 2012. This larger than life game inspired by the children’s tabletop game “Don’t Break the Ice” launched the fourth season of Conservation Station, presented by the UPS Foundation. The hands-on exhibit teaches kids about endangered animals and what we can all do to help secure a future for them in the wild and offers kids quick and easy tips on what they can do to protect polar bears. Appearing at festivals and on Zoo grounds throughout the summer and early fall in 2012, Polar Bear Plunge made conservation learning fun.
In 2011-2012, the Zoo was able to actively engage over 1,200 children and their families with the game at community events as well as at the Zoo. But most importantly, families exposed to Polar Bear Plunge were far more apt to take conservation actions through the Zoo’s climate change education site, mycarbonpledge.com, after being involved in the game than through the use of other tools or simply talking to people about mycarbonpledge.com. (Mycarbonpledge.com is a site the Zoo launched in 2008 to educate people about climate change and allow them to pledge to take small energy conservation actions. To date, people have made over 9,000 pledges that amount to a CO2 reduction of almost 16 million pounds.)
Over three times more individuals and families pledged to take a conservation action through mycarbonpledge.com after playing Polar Bear Plunge than any other outreach tool the Hix Institute staff utilized. And with 2,269 pledges from April 2011-March 2012 and an overall CO2 reduction of over 1.7 million pounds, Polar Bear Plunge is definitely encouraging people to take some energy conservation actions that are benefitting the environment as well as their bottom line. Photo by Gabi Moore