From Scrapyard to Schoolyard: JMM Creates History-Themed Board Game

Scrap Yard: Innovators of Recycling board game.

Calling all chess champions, Monopoly mavens, Boggle bosses, and titans of tic-tac-toe. The Jewish Museum of Maryland (JMM) has created its own educational board game.

Sharing its name with the museum’s current exhibit “Scrap Yard: Innovators of Recycling,” the game is designed to help young visitors understand the economics involved in running one of the nation’s historical Jewish scrap businesses and inspire them to get involved in recycling.

The scrap industry, as the exhibit shows, has experienced great transformation over the last 250 years. The exhibit tells the story of the primarily Jewish and Italian immigrants who climbed the economic and social ladder through the collection and sale of discarded materials.

Scrap Yard is JMM’s first new game since the creation of Paving Our Way 15 years ago, which focused on Jewish American settlers in the 1700s, according to Ilene Dackman-Alon, JMM’s director of learning and visitor experience.

The goal of Scrap Yard is to make the highest profit by buying and selling scrap materials. Players are divided into teams, each taking the name of one of Baltimore’s historical family-owned scrap businesses. In the “buying phase,” according to Museum Educator Marisa Schultz, the teams purchase different resources.

Next, players move into the “selling phase,” which has two parts: “They can sell their materials at a guaranteed price, or hold onto it in the hopes the price goes up,” said Schultz. “Changes in prices depend on what the kids are selling in the first selling round.”

The game was created by Dackman-Alon, Schultz, JMM Executive Director Marvin Pinkert, Museum Educator Alex Malischostak, School Program Coordinator Paige Woodhouse, and intern Ash Turner, who played a major role in the game’s design. The game has received positive feedback from both students and educators, shared Malischostak.

“For kids,” said Dackman-Alon, “there has been such a push for green schools and environmental action, and we’ve been getting a lot of requests from schools to come in with the game. We’re Jewish. We need to take care of our environment.”

“It ties in well with many Maryland state curricular requirements, including math, science, and social studies,” Dackman-Alon continued. She argued that the game allows students to utilize their critical thinking skills while learning both independently and in groups.

A total of 10 physical copies of the game have been made, according to Schultz. Dackman-Alon stated that the exhibition will be traveling outside of Baltimore, and that “we hope the game goes with the exhibition to other cities around the country.”

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