Designing Learning Games about Volcanic Hazards for Primary Aged Children in a Bi-Cultural Environment



This research aims to answer how learning games can be designed and used to encourage learning about natural hazards in Aotearoa New Zealand. Thus far, the researchers have worked alongside a Māori language Kura (school) to co-design an applied game for Tamariki (children) about volcanic risk communication. Our research allowed us to collect perspectives from Kaiako (teachers) and Tamariki to inform the game’s design process. This process aimed to align scientist’s learning goals with school contexts, and to address children’s learning needs and preferences.

Volcanoes are integral to New Zealand history, yet they can pose risks to communities who should be aware of such risks. Children are especially vulnerable as they rely on competent adults around them. However, children also have potential to make changes in their communities through education. Appropriately designed risk communication resources (including games) can mitigate this vulnerability. Applied games can be effective instruments for children’s learning, but research and design practice gaps are extensive.

5 Minute Volcano was designed with the Kura. It is a collaborative game for hazard identification based on Aotearoa volcanoes, science structures, and society using cultural imagery and concepts, such as animals and Taniwha to represent characters and hazards.

The results highlight the design principles of these games. Communicating goals, assisting with learning, and usable to promote resilience to natural hazards with both Western and Māori elements are key findings thus far. The goals of ongoing research will explore the effectiveness of game principles in volcanic risk communication throughout the whole country.


This project is funded by a Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) Endeavour Grant, under the lead of GNS Science, as part of the Beneath the Waves | Raranga Whāriki Papa Moana research programme.

Researcher and Contact

Kieron Wall

Supervisory Team

Research Outputs

Wall, K. (2023). 5 Minute Volcano: designing serious games about volcanic hazards for a bi-cultural environment [Master’s thesis, University of Canterbury]. UC Research Repository.

Related HIT Lab NZ Projects

Beneath the Waves: Raranga Whāriki Papa Moana


More Information


Misha profile photo

Kieron Wall

Heide Lukosch

Ben Kennedy

Simon Hoermann

Kathryn MacCallum