Stabilization Wedges Game

This page authored by David Kobilka, Central Lakes College, based the Princeton University Carbon Mitigation Initiative's Stabilization Wedges game.
Central Lakes College-Brainerd, Earth Science
Author Profile


In this lab activity, students learn about carbon stabilization. The Stabilization Wedges Game, developed by the Carbon Mitigation Initiative at Princeton is a way for participants to, in an interactive way, come to an understanding about the myriad factors that drive social and political decisions on how this can be done (and why it is so slow in coming).

Used this activity? Share your experiences and modifications

Learning Goals

Concepts and content: Carbon stabilization and the complex interplay between government policy, societal forces, and the real amount of carbon going into the atmosphere and what we know about how climate is responding.

Higher-Order skills:
Students in this activity:
Evaluate carbon input and output data from various human carbon sources.
Create a carbon mitigation plan based on their own analysis of data.

Other skills: In this activity, students must negotiate a plan with their team, present their plan orally to the rest of the class, and defend their plan against the questions and criticisms of thier classmates.

This activity is explicity about sustainability. Although it may stand alone outside of a geoscience course, it is particularly effective as part of greater treatment of the climate system from a geoscience perspective.

Context for Use

This activity is meant for student teams of 3-4 persons, and in class sizes of up to 40 persons, however it may be adaptable to larger classes.

Time: 2-3 fifty-minute class periods.

Skills: One class period, and assigned take-home readings are needed to prepare game participants on the concepts relevant for this activity.

This activity could probably be done anywhere in a course but I have used it my standard geoscience course after the section on climate change which comes in the second half of the semester. By this time, students have a significant investment in understanding the complexities of climate change and carbon-mitigation solutions.

Adaptability: This activity is adaptable for high-school through graduate-level students. My experience is using it in introductory-level geoscience courses.

Description and Teaching Materials

This activity is fully documented at the Princeton University Carbon Mitigation Initiave's webpage on the Sabilization Wedges Game. At this weblink you will find a Teacher's Guide that fully describes the game, assessment, and a printable materials you need for the game.

Teaching Notes and Tips

This activity went exactly as I expected, and generated much discussion in the team phase and in the oral defense part afterward. At times the discussion became quite heated. Given that, prior to the oral defense part one might wish to lay some ground rules about taking turns, and what is appropriate criticism and what is not.


At the end of the activity, the student teams deliver an oral defense of the carbon mitigation plan that they developed. It is clear, at this point, how well each team was able to synthesize the ideas cogent to this issue. Later more, directed assessment can be done using the specific assessment questions provided in the teacher's guide.

References and Resources