Living on Active Volcanoes: A Learning Game on Volcanoes and Hazards on the Island of Hawai‘i

Andrew Greene (Hawai'i Pacific University)
David Kelley
Robert Siemers (Environmental Designs, Kaua'i)
Michael Garcia (University of Hawai'i at Manoa)


Maka'u Pele, hazardous Pele, is a fun, competitive and educational game that challenges and tests players about Hawaiian volcanic activity and its features and hazards.

  • Before playing the learning game, players read a Pre-game reading, watch a 25-minute video by the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, and complete a homework assignment.
  • Playing the learning game involves circumnavigating the Big Island by trying to answer questions about volcanoes and hazards from the background material.
  • The four players at each game board read and answer questions, wager chips, encounter hazards and compete for short cuts to move around the Big Island and be first to reach the summit of Mauna Kea. Completing the game takes ~2.5-3.5 hours, depending on how well players are prepared.
  • Players will become more aware, while having fun learning, about volcanic processes and hazards.

Learning Goals

The overarching goal is to learn about volcanoes and hazards through a fun and competitive learning game activity. Living with risk around active volcanoes is a way of life for millions of people. The Maka'u Pele learning game activity will challenge and test players, who may live in volcanically active areas, or be students in Earth and environmental science classes, to enhance the synthesis and retention of scientific information through reading, homework and film, in a competitive and interactive setting.

Context for Use

Maka'u Pele can be used for education and awareness in high school or college classes, or by governmental organizations, disaster management officials, or humanitarian agencies. This game activity fits well in a range of Earth and environmental science courses looking at hazards, disasters, volcanoes or geology. The game is particularly relevant and interesting for students and residents of Hawaii. The activity is designed as a standalone activity, no previous background or material is necessary. The background materials provided with the game provide all the information necessary for the game activity.

Description and Teaching Materials

Parts of the learning game Maka'u Pele:

Teaching Notes and Tips

A file with directions and advice for running the learning game activity is provided here. Directions and Advice for Instructors_Learning Game (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 24kB Mar26 18)


There is currently no formal assessment of this activity. The game activity has been tested several times and revised based on the testing.

References and Resources

All resources necessary for the game are included above.