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Chemical Element Trump Cards

Silicon trump card I can still remember the weight of the Lancia Stratos car that featured in the Top Trumps cards were playing as children in the 1970s: 870kg. It was the lightest of all the flashy cars in the set, and therefore a much sought-after card. Other card sets that kept us busy included airplanes, motorcycles, and tanks. Through them we learned tens of useless trivia, but also got a feeling of the compromises inherent in engineering. Wondering whether I could leverage such a game to make it even more educational, I created a set of trump cards containing properties of chemical elements.

If you don't know the game, here's how it's played. The cards are divided among the players. The player who starts the game reads a number from the card on the top of the deck (e.g. "atomic number 6"). The largest number (or the smallest number for the atomic weight and density) wins, collects the other players' cards, and puts them at the back of the deck. The next number is read by the turn's winner. The player who collects all the cards wins the game. The Wikipedia article Top Trumps contains more details.

Downloads and Code

If you're only interested to play the game, download the PDF file for the language you want, print it on cardboard paper, cut it, and enjoy!

I've also released the project as open source software with an Apache license. You can find the code on GitHub through this link. Feel free to clone it to create other educational trump cards, or to localize it for other languages. I will try to respond to pull requests that concern localization, as well as other educational applications based on properly licensed and attributed material. This means that if you decide to create cards for, say, animals, be sure that the text and pictures come from sources with a Creative Commons license, and that the end-result contains the appropriate attributions. Finally, you can read more about the technological aspects of the project's implementation through this blog entry.

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Last modified: 2013/01/10