GENEVA — A 2007 Geneva High School graduate is hoping to advance her career with a roll of the dice.
Katie Whalen, a former swimmer, math league participant and class valedictorian, is working full time as a project manager at Circle Economy in the Netherlands. But she’s also trying to take her graduate project from two years ago to the next level, working to mass produce a board game she created called “In The Loop.”
In order to do that, she’s relying on crowd funding and using the website Kickstarter.
“It has started out pretty well,” said Whalen, who needs $10,000 to even begin the large-scale production process since the board is a custom design. “We’ve raised almost 25 percent already.”
The Geneva native received her undergraduate degree at the Webb Institute on Long Island and her master’s degree at Delft University of Technology for industrial design in engineering. Her graduate project has stuck with her. “In The Loop” has received positive responses from experts in the field and its popularity has skyrocketed.
Whalen says she was inspired to create the game by a quote from Confucius: “Tell me and I will forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I will understand.” After she did research on critical raw materials and the European Union declaring 14 materials as key to supplying the economy, her goal was to find a way to create awareness of the materials but through simpler language and in an accessible manner.
“I originally did this for companies,” said Whalen, who realized her game would also benefit students in secondary schools. “Teachers see value in using this and seeing the periodic table of elements come alive.”
Whalen says her first goal was to make the companies stop thinking of materials as products and components but as base materials and metals.
“Many times companies don’t stop to think about the actual element,” said Whalen.
The board is set up in a circular design with each element being the feature images. The game begins by drawing a card, and players take turns rolling the dice to travel around the board. As you travel you will buy the “materials cards” you need to make a product, and to win you only need to make three products. This may sound easy, but there are limited material cards — just like in the real world where resources are sometimes hard to come by.
“The most important thing for people to understand is that resources are not infinite,” says Whalen. “We need to use the materials in a smarter way.”
One round of “In The Loop” takes 90 minutes or less and can be played with multiple people. Whalen is currently creating the board games by hand and using them as her prototypes. In order to receive the crowd-funded money on Kickstarter, Whalen must raise $10,000. If she doesn’t reach that, all of the money pledged will be returned to the donors.
“I played with my friends and they really enjoyed it,” says Whalen. She even played it with her grandparents who “totally got it.”
Whalen hopes “In The Loop” will be used at home and in the office.
“I want people to share their passion, but doing those things in a more environmental way and thinking in a different perspective while still having fun,” she said, noting the game is appropriate for all ages.
Anyone interested in making a donation to the project should go to the Kickstarter website and search for In The Loop. Donations must be made by Aug. 7.