International Year of Chemistry, 2011

UNESCO - United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization IUPAC - International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry

Partners for the
International Year of Chemistry 2011

See all contacts

Contact Detail

Mr. Jim Macdonald Ideas Activities
  • President, LeapCloud Inc.
    St John, NB, Canada
  • Email
    Tel 506-849-8185
  • Sector:

    Primary or Secondary Education
  • Organizations:

    LeapCloud Inc.
    Rare Earth Game
  • IYC Interests:

    Increase the public appreciation and understanding of chemistry
    Encourage interest of young people in chemistry
    Generate enthusiasm for the creative future of chemistry
    Celebrate the role of women in chemistry
  • Web Site:


Richard (Rick) Gowan, Head of the Science Department at Rothesay Netherwood School in New Brunswick, Canada, and James (Jim) MacDonald, a graphic artist and marketing consultant, have completed the development of a new educational game called “The Rare Earth Chemical Element Matching Game” and tested it successfully in classrooms.

The Rare Earth Game is a card game in which players “bond” together combinations of playing cards that depict chemical elements as cartoon characters, such as cute Oxygen, monsterous Cerium and heroic Meitnerium. Players then raid each other’s “Labs” to capture the highest quantity of “Protons”.

“A few years ago, Rick and I dreamed up the idea for a game based on the elements of the periodic table but we were too busy with our respective careers,” says MacDonald. “In 2009, I suddenly found myself unemployed, so I used the time to design, cartoon and write the original content for the game, with Rick co-writing the game rules, providing research material and proofing the emerging product.”

In December of 2010, the prototype was finally completed and the game was tested in middle school and high school classrooms. Both age groups played the game enthusiastically and actively learned from it.

“Not all students are auditory learners. The game provides memorable characters for visual learners and hands-on play for kinetic learners,” says Gowan. “I have been particularly gratified to hear boys and girls ask questions about game-play that are simultaneously questions about the science of Chemistry.”

The Rare Earth Game is designed first for the education market, where innovations to help struggling science students are much needed. Simultaneously, the game will sell through retail toy stores and online. Each game box comes with 108 chemical element playing cards (2 to 4 players).