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Race to Displace

A Game to Model the Effects of Invasive Species on Plant Communities

Secondary, Middle

Description

In this ESD board game students assume the characteristics of native or introduced plants to experience first-hand the influence of species interactions and changing environmental conditions on ecosystems. It also provides an excellent framework for exploring the ecosystem concept; including ecosystem organization, regulation of populations, species diversity, the adaptations of organisms, attributes of successful invaders and the impact of invasion on communities.

Each student adopts the characteristics of one of six plant species which interact with each other while moving around the game board. The object of the game is to be the plant with the largest population in the community.  After each round of play students rank the population size of plant species from largest to smallest and record this data in a table. After three rounds group data is tabulated and discussion questions completed. Game-play data is then pooled from all groups, and the entire class undertakes an analysis of the results.

Extension activities include suggestions for a research project and presentation describing a local invasive species, collecting data on invasive species abundance on school grounds or in a nearby area, creating identification cards for plants in their area and organizing and participating in a local project to remove invasive species.

 

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

  • Interpreting patterns
  • Recognizing cause and effect
  • Communicating data effectively

Strengths

  • The resource is up-to-date and innovative
  • Students will enjoy the board game
  • Game components (game board, plant tokens, action cards) are available in color as pdfs for download
  • The game can be played on game boards,or using projection technology (SMART Boards), or with carpet squares to construct a life-sized game board.
  • Game cards include the scientific names for plant species
  • Plant characteristic profiles are included
  • Game provides a unique way to introduce appropriate terminology

Weaknesses

  • The game & species used were developed for classrooms in the Mid-Western and Eastern United States ecosystems.  Some adaptation of materials may be required.
  • Teachers need to find links for student background information and extension activities
  • Significant teacher preparation is required to set up the game initially

Recommendation of how and where to use it

Teachers may choose to use the game to introduce the concepts of ecosystem interactions and invasive species, or to help students internalize concepts following the study of invasives. The game also has application in Social Studies and Geography courses that address human interactions with the environment.

Relevant Curriculum Units

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      • Social Studies
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Themes Addressed

Citizenship (1)

  • Community-Building and Participation

Ecosystems (5)

  • Appreciating the Natural World
  • Biodiversity
  • Habitat Loss
  • Interdependence
  • Invasive Species

Land Use & Natural Resources (1)

  • Planting Native Species

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Good

Students participate in the board game and learn about the interactions among species, both native and non-native.

Consideration of Alternative Perspectives:
  • Satisfactory: absence of bias towards any one point of view
  • Good: students consider different points of view regarding issues, problems discussed
  • Very good: based on the consideration of different views, students form opinions and  take an informed position
Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions Satisfactory

It is implied that the introduction of non-native plants by humans has economic implications with regards to agricultural productivity, as well as the costs associated in controlling the damage.

Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions:

Effectively addresses the environmental, economic and social dimensions of the issue(s) being explored.

  • Satisfactory: resource supports the examination of  these dimensions
  • Good:  resource explicitly examines the interplay of these dimensions
  • Very Good:  a systems-thinking approach is encouraged to examine these three dimensions
Respects Complexity Satisfactory

This resource focuses on the interaction between species, the threat to biodiversity, and the dangers of changing plant communities.

Respects Complexity:

The complexity of the problems/issues being discussed is respected.

Acting on Learning Satisfactory

Action plans are suggested as extensions to the game, but are not supported by the resource.

Acting on Learning:

Learning moves from understanding  issues  to working towards positive change — in personal lifestyle, in school, in the community,  or for the planet

  • Satisfactory: action opportunities are included as extensions 
  • Good: action opportunities are core components of the resource
  • Very Good: action opportunities for students are well supported and intended to result in observable, positive change
Values Education Good

The resource gives students an opportunity to do some self-reflection and identify their own opinions and values. There could be more opportunities for students to share and clarify what their own actions could be.

Values Education:

Students are explicitly provided with opportunities to identify, clarify and express their own beliefs/values.

Empathy & Respect for Humans Satisfactory
Empathy & Respect for Humans: Empathy and respect are fostered for diverse groups of humans (including different genders, ethnic groups, sexual preferences, etc.).
Personal Affinity with Earth Good

Students are encouraged to pay more attention to factors which upset ecosystems and threaten biodiversity in the natural world.

Personal Affinity with Earth:

Encourages a personal affinity with -the natural world.  

  • Satisfactory: connection is made to the natural world
  • Good: fosters appreciation/concern for the natural world
  • Very Good: fosters stewardship though practical and respectful experiences out-of-doors 
Locally-Focused Learning Satisfactory

There are invasive species all around us. The resource may motivate students to go outdoors and survey their area for non-native and invasive species.

Locally-Focused Learning:

Includes learning experiences that take advantage of issues/elements within the local community. 

  • Satisfactory: learning is made relevant to the lives of the learners
  • Good: learning is made relevant and has a local focus
  • Very Good: learning is made relevant, local and takes place ‘outside’ , in the community 
Past, Present & Future Satisfactory

The board game serves to simulate the current situation of invasive species outcompeting native species and disrupting the balance of ecosystems. The future would be seen as positive only if the students use what they have learned to springboard into action.

Past, Present & Future: Promotes an understanding of the past, a sense of the present, and a positive vision for the future.

Pedagogical Approaches

Principle Rating Explanation
Open-Ended Instruction Good

Students participate in the board game and develop their own thoughts and opinions.

Open-Ended Instruction :

Lessons are structured so that multiple/complex answers are possible; students are not steered toward one 'right' answer.

Integrated Learning Satisfactory

Thiis resource addresses outcomes in science, biology, environmental science, geography and social studies.

Integrated Learning:

Learning brings together content and skills  from more than one  subject area

  • Satisfactory: content from a number of different  subject areas is readily identifiable
  • Good:  resource is appropriate for use in more than one subject area
  • Very Good:  the lines between subjects are blurred 
Inquiry Learning Good
Inquiry Learning:

Learning is directed by questions, problems, or challenges that students work to address.   

  • Satisfactory: Students are provided with questions/problems to solve and some direction on how to arrive at solutions.
  • Good: students, assisted by the teacher clarify the question(s) to ask and the process to follow to arrive at solutions.  Sometimes referred to as Guided Inquiry
  • Very Good:  students generate the questions and assume much of the responsibility for how to solve them.  . Sometimes referred to as self-directed learning.

 

Differentiated Instruction Satisfactory

Activities include pre-game instructions, the game itself, and wrap-up discussion questions.

Differentiated Instruction:

Activities address a range of student learning styles, abilities and readiness.

  • Satisfactory:  includes a variety of instructional approaches
  • Good: addresses  the needs of visual, auditory &  kinesthetic learners
  • Very Good: also includes strategies for learners with difficulties
Experiential Learning Satisfactory
Experiential Learning:

Authentic learning experiences are provided

  • Satisfactory: learning takes place through ‘hands-on’ experience or simulation
  • Good: learning involves direct experience in a ‘real world context’
  • Very good: learning involves ‘real world experiences’ taking place’ beyond the school walls.
Cooperative Learning Satisfactory
Cooperative Learning:

Group and cooperative learning strategies are a priority.

  • Satisfactory:  students work in groups
  • Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught and practiced
  • Very Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught, practiced and assessed
Assessment & Evaluation Satisfactory

The resource suggests that students be evaluated based on their participation in both the game and class discussion questions. No rubric is provided.

Assessment & Evaluation: Tools are provided that help students and teachers to capture formative and summative information about students' learning and performance. These tools may include reflection questions, checklists, rubrics, etc.
Peer Teaching Satisfactory
Peer Teaching:

Provides opportunities for students to actively present their knowledge and skills to peers and/or act as teachers and mentors.

  • Satisfactory: incidental teaching that arises from cooperative learning, presentations, etc.
  • Good or Very Good: an opportunity is intentionally created to empower students to teach other students/community members. The audience is somehow reliant on the students' teaching (students are not simply ‘presenting')
Case Studies Good

The game is based on actual plant species in real ecosystems.

Case Studies:

Relevant case studies are included.  Case studies are thorough descriptions of real events from real situations that students use to explore  concepts in an authentic context.

Locus of Control Satisfactory

There are opportunities in the extension activities to go deeper into chosen issues.

Locus of Control: Meaningful opportunities are provided for students to choose elements of program content, the medium in which they wish to work, and/or to go deeper into a chosen issue.