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The Watermaker

Book 1

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Elementaurs

Boot Camp

Card Game

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BOOT CAMP

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Tel: +61 8 9243 1404

Post: P.O Box 900, Scarborough, WA 6922, Australia

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The Story Behind the Elementaurs

My own children, and many I know get caught up in the current animated characters and their interactions and stories. Those characters are total fantasy, sometimes using creatures of fable as a basis for their characters. The children learn their properties by rote, and know how they will behave in certain situations. It occurred to me that this could be a wonderful way for students to painlessly learn about the periodic table and the elements. Many cartoon characters have associated cards for collection, games (electronic and board), graphic novels, films, plastic toys, DVDs etc. How wonderful if these resources were directed in a more meaningful way!

Although I have a Bachelor of Applied Science (Physiotherapy) and I got a good enough pass in leaving chemistry, it was certainly not one of my stronger subjects. I was a reluctant student ? leaning more toward languages and arts. It was only as I recently pursued the study of the elements, their properties and their discoverers etc that I became fascinated by chemistry. The elements seem to have personalities and they call you into their adventures.

The Elementaurs originally began as the story of four children who are challenged to save the world at a future time when the study of chemistry is forbidden in schools and general universities. They are sent on a mission to collect some magical creatures which were locked away at a time of great troubles on earth. Each creature is the embodiment of an element from the periodic table, but this is revealed only later. Through the children?s adventures, readers come to know (and to understand some attributes, and perhaps to love) the elements/creatures. Their properties, strengths and weaknesses, attacks, combinations etc are based on scientific reality and the adventures weave some of the element?s history into the story?

My challenge was that I already had the ninety-two Elementaur creatures sorted out but the stories were taking a long time. If I kept up at the rate I was going it would be only my grandchildren who benefitted from the incidental science learning contained in the stories. Already I had a daughter heading for high school and so I decided to bring forward the development of the card game.

I had spent a lot of time researching the chemistry and found it very helpful to bounce ideas around with chemistry Professor Don Watts. Family friend Brad Ramm introduced me to Henry Lam, a very talented illustrator. He has done an extraordinary job in bringing my vision to life. Many others also contributed in some way to the development of the concept and the cards as they are today.

The way the first eighteen elements combine lends itself readily to a card game and for a long time I had a vague idea of how it could work - however the finer details have taken some time to work out. I am pleased with the final result as I feel that COMBAT COMBOS is an interesting game of luck and skill with enough twists to keep players on their toes. In classroom trials of the game with ten and twelve year olds (five classes) over ninety-five percent indicated that they wanted to play the game again.

There are many ways that the Elementaurs can teach the children about their world. Very young children can play simple matching games. Other children will group the creatures in ?Clans? or in order. Playing the more challenging COMBAT COMBOS, players unwittingly make up real chemical compounds. As they admire the pictures or read about the powers and weaknesses they are not just learning about the Elementaur creatures but about chemical reality.

At a primary level it is just meant to be fun and it isn?t important if the science is never discussed. (It may be better if it is not). Leave that to the very capable high school teachers who can then shed light on the wonderful creatures that the children know and love. Having said that, children are curious and they ask questions.

My eight, ten and twelve year old children very quickly grasped the basic and not so basic aspects of the games and they were excited to learn that Elementaur treasure ? the pearls - were really electrons. They wanted to know that the number in the pearl circle actually tells them more than just in which row they could find their Elementaur. They now know things about the periodic table and the elements that I struggled with in year ten! The five year old just wants to know which one has the funniest attacks and looks the coolest. But even he knows where to find them on the Map.

I expect that the next eighteen Elementaurs, the bad guys, the challenge cards and some cards of the heroes in my stories will be released before Christmas. They will fit in with the Boot Camp Game but will also lead the children into Battle Phase where they can apply their newfound knowledge of Combat Combos against some real enemies. The first book in the Elementaur Series, The Watermaker, will also be published.

My vision is that through engaging games and stories, a generation of children will come to know about the elements, and the periodic table, in a way that is fun and perhaps even addictive. We want the next generation of students to embrace science and all they can do with it. And I hope that these card games and books will help them to do that.







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