JASON Science: Eco Defenders
What it is: Eco Defenders is another excellent Filament Games simulation/interactive. In this game, students design “alien” invasive species and set it loose on an imaginary ecosystem. Students must use their knowledge of ecosystems, adaptations, and competition to design a simulation of an invasive species. Students find out that when an invading species occupies the same ecological niche as native species, they can cause problems for the ecosystem. The game allows for a lot of customization and decisions for students as they choose one of three ecosystems and then design their own alien. As students go through the simulation, JASON host researcher, Russell Cuhel, will ask questions about how invasive species invade an ecosystem giving students the chance to be the expert. Before students play the game, ask them to click on the “Learn More” link where they will receive a tutorial for the game and some background information about invasive species. Students can learn about different kinds of invasive species that exist in our world.
How to integrate Eco Defenders into the classroom: In the Eco Defenders game/simulation, your students will: design their own invasive creature, watch their creature as it interacts in the ecosystem and competes over resources with native creatures, and analyze the interactions among the organisms in the ecosystem. Students will select a creature to target in the ecosystem they have chosen and then design a species that will compete in the same ecological niche. Students will design and then run a simulation to test their invader. Afterward, they will discuss what happened with the virtual host scientist, go over the results, and analyze the data. The great thing about this game/simulation is that no two students will have the exact same results. Eco Defenders is best in a computer lab setting where each student can play individually. After students have experimented and run through the simulation, come together as a class and discuss what students observed. What made their invader successful? What would they change for the next time? As students learn more about ecosystems, eco niches, and invaders throughout the unit, have them run through the simulation again and see if they come up with different results. If you can’t manage access to a 1 to 1 computer setting, play the game as a class using an interactive whiteboard or projector-connected computer. The class should discuss each decision, weighing the pros and cons, before making a move. As the students work through the simulation, talk about what they are observing and what tweaks might change the outcome of their simulation.
Tips: JASON Science is worth a look. The tag-line of JASON Science is “Education through Exploration”. I couldn’t agree more!
Please leave a comment and share how you are using Eco Defenders in your classroom.