Meet Stavros Stavrou and Iva Grueva. Stavros holds a PhD in Computer Sciences, he is a consultant, a coach, and a book writer. He has created original techniques and games for software development and process management. Iva is an artist – she illustrates children’s books. She enjoys drawing for Bulgarian children’s books the most. She works as a freelance artist and designer and is an ambassador of comics culture in Bulgaria.

What is The Poppals?

The Poppals are digital educational games, which help children learn to work in a team. They are played in schools and are based on Mathematics and Bulgarian language school curriculum for 1st-4th graders. Together with the game characters, kids solve all sorts of environmental problems – such as water and air pollution, separate waste collection, deforestation, etc. Thus, kids learn to care for the others and the world around them.

Why The Poppals?

When Stavros’ son became a first grader, Stavros noticed that the boy was sinking deeper and deeper into technologies, isolating himself from the world around him. It was hard for him to communicate with the other kids and work in a team with them. The father made a research and realized that many other kids lack these important social skills. Unfortunately, the educational system had little to offer in helping them develop these skills. This motivated Stavros to make a present for his son’s class – a game, encouraging kids to work together. Thus, the prototype of the Poppals was born. Stavros invited Iva to create the design and illustrations for the game. Later on, the two began working with university professors in pedagogy and education to create the full methodology of the games.

How does The Poppals work?

The learning process takes place while pupils play in teams in class, solving Mathematics and Bulgarian language problems of various difficulty. In order to solve the task, children have to collaborate and exchange information. They have fun while they learn and willingly demonstrate what they have learned in class. In the end, they share how they felt during the game. The teacher monitors the whole process and the results and then talks to the pupils. Thus, the teacher can integrate the pupils who are rather passive or differen, discuss cases involving aggression, teach kids not to accuse each other if they lose and not to interrupt each other. To avoid addiction, games are allowed for no more than 20 minutes a week strictly in school environment.

The Poppals games are extremely easy to use and are already played in many government and private schools. The goal of Stavros and Iva is to reach schools across and beyond Bulgaria. However, their dream is to turn children into real Poppals – people, who care about the others and the world around them and who wil create a better world together.