Before lights go out around the world to mark the sixth annual Earth Hour there are a number of ways to get children involved in the event and help develop their understanding of environmental responsibility.
Since the first Earth Hour, organized by the WWF, took place in 2007 in Sydney, Australia, the event has spread across the globe with over 135 countries now taking part. In order to raise awareness of climate change, Earth Hour encourages businesses, individuals and governments to turn out their lights for 60 minutes and sees some of the world's most famous monuments -- such as Paris's Eiffel Tower-- plunged into darkness.
In the leadup to the big moment, there are a number of playful ways that children can get involved online and develop their awareness of the event.
By visiting the official site of Earth Hour and selecting ‘Fun Stuff' from the bar along the top, parents and children can access a number of games and activities designed to promote the event.
These games and activities include:
Kids' Game -- a timed online game which challenges children to guide a character around a city using the arrow keys, players must help support Earth Hour and get points by collecting the small yellow balls placed around the city while avoiding the floating watches which reduce the amount of time available.
The activity Virtual Light Switch allows users to pick a light switch from a number of designs -- retro, pull, chrome -- and select the type of wall it is on -- apartment, warehouse studio, hotel, for example. Once selected the light switch and wall are displayed across the computer's monitor, players ‘flick' the switch plunging the screen into darkness; players can then share their creation with their friends via Facebook.
Virtual Lantern works on a similar principle, allowing users to create their own online lantern, choosing the color of the material and flame, and then share their artistic achievements with their friends.
Finally Pocoyo's Recycling Game aims to teach children a little about environmental responsibility, the organizers have also pledged to plant a certain number of trees each time a certain number of people have played the game; aimed at younger children, the game challenges players to place the correct waste material, discarded newspapers for example, in the correct recycling bin.
Following Earth Hour on March 31, Earth Day on April 22 will also promote environmental responsibility and issues related to climate change. Numerous events will be held around the world in celebration of Earth Day and individuals are encouraged to take part by pledging to do an ‘act of green' as part of the event's Billion Acts of Green campaign.
Other online games that promote environmental awareness include eMission in which players have to nurture and protect a costal habitat and Ecotopia which matches online ‘green' actions with real-world ones.