Grace Kusuma
Designed as a teaching aid for high school teachers, Ballotopia is a card game to help make learning about politics and the importance of participation fun!
The US has been described as a representative democracy, and yet considering the current age demographic of voters who actually participate, how can this be considered representative? Turnout rates for 18–24 year olds in presidential elections have always been lower than the national average, compared to 65+ age voters who are well above the average by 2020. The majority of this age group votes for Democrats, while ages 30–44 are split evenly between the two parties. Those in the older range favored GOP. If this is the case, then the representatives that we have in congress is not a true representation of its population.

There are many reasons that scholars have attributed to low turnout rates: voter apathy, restricting laws and policies, barriers to voting, the current economic environment… A prevalent theory that would increase political involvement is better educational involvement in schools. There are many studies that show that involving students in role-play and debates/discussions allow students to tackle difficult topics and understand the importance of getting involved. Sparking interest early, increasing the personal quality of politics, and getting students more constantly involved has shown to keep interest as they continue to grow into young adults. Some say you can start in elementary school with concepts that are easy enough to understand and move on from there. And in school, there are a diverse collection of experiences and opinions that can further push students to investigate and critically think for themselves in the future.

But how do we introduce students to these topics without being daunting? How do we really make sure students are engaged without being turned off right at the beginning? This is something I’d like to pursue with my thesis.
Research Questions
  1. At what age should we start teaching politics?
  2. What elements of teaching keeps students engaged?
  3. How effective is learning as a group vs individually?
Ballotopia is an animal-themed political card game to introduce high school students to politics and debate in a friendly and undaunting way. It is meant to be a teaching aid, but can be played outside of school as a fun standalone game.

The game comes with instruction manual and cards, and 2 ballot boxes all contained its own product box. Players take the role of politicians and citizens, they pick and continue to 3 different stages of the game with the moderator leading the session: discussion and debate, Q&A, and voting. Citizens talk among each other about issues, then politicians make speeches about said issues. Citizens then ask questions to politicians that can help them vote on who they'd like. In the end, whichever politician gets the most votes win!
Connie Hwang–Primary Advisor
SJSU Professor, Graphic Designer
Yoon Chung Han–Secondary Advisor
SJSU Professor, Experience Designer
Mark Armstrong–Tertiary Advisor
High School Teacher, Political Sciences
Process Book