Education
The phylomon project: collectible animal cards
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Can your kids identify a Shiny Pichu but not a Procyon lotor (raccoon)? An open source initiative called the Phylomon Project aims to change that.

“What is this?” you ask? Well, it’s an online initiative aimed at creating a Pokémon card type resource but with real creatures on display in full “character design” wonder. Not only that – but we plan to have the scientific community weigh in to determine the content on such cards (note that the cards above are only a mock-up of what that content might be), as well as folks who love gaming to try and design interesting ways to use the cards. Then to top it all off, members of the teacher community will participate to see whether these cards have educational merit. Best of all, the hope is that this will all occur in a non-commercial-open-access-open-source-because-basically-this-is-good-for-you-your-children-and-your-planet sort of way.

The project got its start when conservationist Andrew Balmford wrote a letter to Science bemoaning the fact that kids knew more about Pokémon characters than real animals.

What do you think, readers? Can conservation-minded folks help make real animals as cool as made-up ones? Will this project work? Give us your thoughts in the comments. [via Kottke]

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10 thoughts on “The phylomon project: collectible animal cards

  1. I think a cool idea would be to have a wiki/database for card sets like this. I remember having various trading cards growing up, and learning all the information on them; there’s no reason it needs to be limited to animals. It’s a great way to learn.

    I’ve looked around before for a suitable custom card printer, but with no luck. Ideally, they would be: online, on-demand in small batches, high-quality (think glossy playing cards), and inexpensive (goes against the previous). Basically, I’d like to find something like Blurb, Lulu, or Moo that specializes in playing/trading cards.

    Any sources or ideas? Maybe I should cross-post this to Source Wanted on Cool Tools.

    1. You also must consider why kids learn these cards. They are used in strategy-based games where the “skills” of one card can be used against the skills of another animal. If you want it to be popular, you HAVE to make it fun and you HAVE to use the formula created by Magic and Pokemon.

      Have rare/common type cards
      Have a core set of skills for each. For example, a monkey would survive for a long time in a forest environment, but if the enemy plays a “Change environment to prairie”, then a rare “Lion” card, it would defeat the monkey hoard.

      So you would have Prarie/Mountain/Woodland (just like Magic)
      Then Carnivore/Omnivore/Herbivore/environment bonus
      Relative attack/defense points

      Then, you might have something useful. I remember my parents giving me cards like this when I was younger, and I just threw them away because they just contained data.

      1. I agree about making it fun; when I had cards like these as a kid, my brother and I would essentially play War, but whoever had the turn would choose the category for comparison.

        But that’s the beauty of setting this up wiki fashion; someone with better experience of developing game play could contribute easily. Also, interesting artwork or pictures makes them more than just data.

        Plus, if you can customize the decks (choose which cards you want printed), then there’s feedback to the designers about what’s working.

  2. This is a great project and I would absolutely buy them for my kids and their friends for gifts. These guys should donate the cards or the proceeds from selling them to the World Wildlife Fund. That would be great!

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    I find It truly useful & it helped me oout a lot.
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My interests include writing, electronics, RPGs, scifi, hackers & hackerspaces, 3D printing, building sets & toys. @johnbaichtal nerdage.net

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