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Subject: Wanted: Games for teaching ecology rss

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Yehuda Berlinger
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Let's say I have a classroom of high-schoolers and I want to bring games into the classroom to teach ecology.

What would you recommend?

I don't want any old dumb game just because it says it's an educational game about the ecology. If it is actually a good game for general kids, like Trivial Pursuit: the Ecology Edition, or something like that, fine.

In addition to straight ecology/environment titles, I would also like to think about any games that teach ecological thinking, such as resource management, industrial business, world environments, and so on. Of course, they can't be long and complicated (like Power Grid) or too hard to learn. Then I could use these games to srpingboard discussion about policies.

Suggestions for either of these types of games is welcome, as is any other suggestions.

Yehuda
 
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Michael Von Ahnen
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When I was younger, I played a game that I have been looking for ever since: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/game/8434

It was fun to play, as well as educational.

But I have seen it only once on eBay and it went for a lot of $$
 
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Scott Tullis
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This is probably not exactly what you are looking for, but the game Terra has an ecological component...
 
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Yehuda Berlinger
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tullace wrote:
This is probably not exactly what you are looking for, but the game Terra has an ecological component...


Actually that is what I'm looking for regarding the first category of games. Someone else also emailed me with that suggestion, so great. Any more?

Yehuda
 
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Daniel Kearns
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Primordial Soup seems perfect.
 
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Jody Ludwick
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Primordial Soup

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/game/124

followed by...

Urland

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/game/2539


These are the 'Hooked-on-Biology' games in our household.
 
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S. P. Harris
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http://www.boardgamegeek.com/game/3745

Bioviva is a trivia game about nature...lots of ecology facts. I don't know if it is available anymore, though. My kids have loved playing it.

 
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Rachel Wolfe
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If you can find it, and afford it -- try Paradice:

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/game/21689

[Edited to add: I don't own it, nor have I never played it...]
 
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Hermus
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Here's a geeklist I did on the subject not too long ago...

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist.php3?action=view&listi...
 
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dave boulton
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I'm not sure if this is what you are looking for, but settlers of the stone age certainly deals with the migrations of man out of Africa due to amongst other things the (human caused?) desertification of fertile lands: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/game/4394 its also a fun settlers game!

Not sure exactly what this game is about but it certaily is pretty (and expensive!) http://www.boardgamegeek.com/game/21689 it claims to be an ecological themed game, also coincidently there is a catergory called enviromental on the geek here: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/browser.php?itemtype=game&sortb...

Hope this helps

Walker Red Eye
 
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Blue Guldal
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I highly recommend American Megafauna:
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/game/639

It is a very well researched simulation game where dinos are against mammals and spans the Triassic to present. As it says in the write up here on BGG, "This is a game of ecology, evolution, and DNA."

I personally find Ursuppe (Primordial Soup) very abstract and not so fun due to the long wait time for each player's turn. If a player has all 9 creatures out and about, for example, it can take up to half an hour for them to feed, move, and poop all of them!!! This really bores players with short attention spans. The concept is great, but the game is dry.

Another great but unfortunately OOP game you might consider is Quirks. http://www.boardgamegeek.com/game/2478 It is a game of ecology and evolution, again. There are 5 climates and players create cretures from head, body, tail parts. Each part has climates that it is advantageous for and climates it won't work well in and the climate worth of each creature is the sum of all its parts' worth, plus or minus it's food or predetor head values (i.e.the value of the upper niche herbivore reduces if the upper niche carnivore can eat it and the carnivore's worth is increased) Players try to create lower niche creatures, challange the upper niche creatures and try to occupy all 3 upper niches with their creatures and fend off all challanges. The artwork is great, all players are involved at all times, and the creatures are very funky looking. I saw a copy being sold on Ebay for a reasonable price just recently.
 
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Tim K.
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Industrial Waste and Oil Spill come to mind.
 
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Joe Gola
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Here's one from my basement: "Dirty Water." Maybe I could loan it to you....

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/game/17584
 
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Emmanuel Alisea
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Well darn, I was thinking I might be able to help, but someone stole the only suggestion I could think of. cry

Any way, Evolution is a great game if you can find it. I know we recently played it in my Zoology class (A College Zoology class) and everyone seemed to enjoy it. We were split into groups of 3 and the two in my group both wanted to get their hands on it when we were finished. We were told to use it as a model and in fact, there will be questions about it on our quiz. Something you may want to keep in mind if you use this game is that our professor asked us to keep in mind the similarities and difference between reality and the game, so you may want to ask your students to do the same. I don't know if any of this info helped you at all or swayed your opinion one way or the other but just thought I'd toss it out there.
 
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Stephen Smith
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Might Trees is an interesting CCG style (though non-collectable) card game that might be something to look into. The entry here on the geek has the web address.
 
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Brian Lewandowski
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Waldmeister looks to meet your criteria,

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/game/2095

It looks like Puerto Rico's older cousin to me (and it is by Andreas Seyfarth no less).

Hope this helps!
 
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Oliver Dienz
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Probably the best game for you may be "Keep cool". Here is a description and an additional link: http://www.european-climate-forum.net/games/keepcool.html However, it is probably hard to get.
This german site has also some very good information about energy use and its impact on the enviroment: http://www.klimanet4kids.baden-wuerttemberg.de/index_b.htm
Maybe you will be able to translate it via babelfish. Energie 21 is another game that comes to my mind.

Hope that helps.
 
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Richard Crawshaw
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There is always 60 Minutes to Save the Earth.
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/game/18210

It isn't a really good game, unfortunately, but it might well work sufficiently well in an education setting. I have a copy that I purchased in a remaindered bookshop about 10 years ago. I've played it (or rather tried to play it) a couple of times. It's biggest problem is the fact that even one slowish player means that the 60 minutes / 100 years will be up before the prescribed actions have been completed.

Richard
 
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Robert Washington
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Shade_Jon wrote:
Let's say I have a classroom of high-schoolers and I want to bring games into the classroom to teach ecology.

What would you recommend?

I don't want any old dumb game just because it says it's an educational game about the ecology. If it is actually a good game for general kids, like Trivial Pursuit: the Ecology Edition, or something like that, fine.

In addition to straight ecology/environment titles, I would also like to think about any games that teach ecological thinking, such as resource management, industrial business, world environments, and so on. Of course, they can't be long and complicated (like Power Grid) or too hard to learn. Then I could use these games to srpingboard discussion about policies.

Suggestions for either of these types of games is welcome, as is any other suggestions.

Yehuda


I can't believe no one but Koldfoot mentioned TERRA, a cooperative game where players represent various factions involved in environmentla efforts and try and solve various environmental problems. From what I understand, a key concept is that one or more players who constantly act in their own best interest can ruin the game for all.
 
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Mitchell Thomashow
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Just for context, Yehuda, I'm an environmental studies professor and writer, and soon to be a President at an environmental college. I've also been a board-games enthusiast since the mid-1970's. Although my favorite games are abstract games, I play all kinds of games, and have always been somewhat interested in ecology games.

My first suggestion:

To teach ecology, make sure you get your kids outside, observing the natural world, taking good notes, and teach them how to ask interpretive questions. THERE IS NO SUBSTITUTE FOR DOING SO. I don't care where your school is, we have an entire generation of students who are missing out on these types of experiences. There is no better way to teach ecology then to observe the natural world.

When you are indoors, and if you wish to use alternative teaching materials, and if games are suitable for your class, then there are two ways you can go about it.

First of all board games can teach thinking in two different ways, substantively, through the actual theme and subject matter, and cognitively, by virtue of the actual thinking process entailed.

There is only one game I have ever seen that merges both of these approaches, and that is Extinction, designed by Stephen Hubbell, one of the great biodiversity theorists of our generation. I have no idea whether this game is still in print, but you might wish to see if you can track down a copy. It would be great to have an evolution or ecology game that actually teaches the things that students need to know (scale, population dynamics, biogegraphy, etc.) Most of the evolution games I've seen are oriented around simplified prey/predator relationships.

Another path to consider is teaching a game like GO, and asking your students to explore how the landscape of GO resembles the landscape of an ecosystem. There are interesting parallels here, and if you pursue them, you might go a long way in teaching your kids how to think ecologically. Another game that develops landscape patterns that have ecological parallels (with imagination) is EINFACH GENIAL It's instructive to watch how certain colors emerge and disappear, why they do so, and how certain groups are closed off and become "threatened." I'll bet BLOKUS demonstrates interesting spatial patterns that have ecological parallels.

Anyway, I'm encouraging you to use your imagination, and see whether you can get kids to observe ecological patterns in the out of doors (landscapes, patches, mosaics, corridors......the language of landscape ecology) and how they reproduce themselves with some very basic abstract games. That will teach them the cognitive patterning they need to become good observers of ecological systems.

One more example.....if you change the symbols in a game like Tigris and Euphrates so they resemble organisms and/or behaviors.....suddenly the game very much resembles an ecosystem!

Have fun with this project and let me know if I can be of any help.

Mitchell Thomashow
 
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Yehuda Berlinger
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Thank you, Mitchell, and everybody, for some excellent and creative suggestions.

Yehuda
 
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lisa smith
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I also recommend extinction the game of ecolgy, but it is out of print so you would have to hunt ebay.

The same biologist invented a second game just called extinction. I don't know how good the second one is but someone is currently selling a copy on ebay for $5
http://rover.ebay.com/rover/1/711-53200-19255-0/1?type=4&cam...

 
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