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Subject: A classroom intro to food webs idea. rss

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davey yaved
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Take home lessons: biodiversity is important indicator of ecosystem health
Disrupting parts of the web can have widespread effects throughout ecosystem

What I do : give each kid (high school biology students) a card
Form a big circle. Use a spool of warn or string. Start w a carnivore. That kid hold end of yarn. She names something she is related to on food web and states relationship. I unspoon uarn and take across circle to that kid. Repeat until everyone is included in the web. It gets complicated and tangled. I have a kid scurry around on hands and knees under the web to continue to transport the spool around. Sometimes it breaks down and you just have to fudge things. One way to do this is take out decay cards and have a kid play that role additionally. Then missed connections can be made...
the goal is everyone is connected and strong is kinda taut. Then make up a scenario that removes a population from the ecosystem. These kids drop their strings. Many other kids will feel a change in he tension on their string. Then have kids look at their cards. How will this change effect their species?? If a food source has been lost a predator may eat too much of another food source for that species to maintain its population etc etc. great way to models, see and feel ecosystem connections. Can consider how effects will differ in a bigger or smaller classroom (more biodiverse is more resilient).
Another activity. At seats everyone gets a card. Write their eat/eaten by info in journal. Rule: when most of food source is gone (kids check off from written list), (you can have kids make judgement calls) card/player/student is removed from game. This then effects everyone else in population. I like to start w introduction of an invasive species that outcompetes on other species and decimates a food source species. Things fall apart pretty fast... you can relationships where a predator is removed which increases a prey which decreases their food source. Can work in a discussion of dynamic and shifting equilibria.
Have fun!
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davey yaved
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Another thing I've done w this game: play the short game. As play proceeds students make a food web mapping out all possible connections for all cards played. Draw arrows in direction energy is flowing. Set some number of connections. This can be either point at which they stop this part of excercise and count up theirscore. I can't recall what number of connections is reasonable...
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