These notes should be read before watching the section on the Ecogame on the video cassette accompanying these materials. The video has quite deliberately been taken of a teacher new to the game teaching it for the very first time. The pupils are seven and eight year olds.
was shot live with no interruptions or re-takes. Some 70 minutes of game
play have been edited into 15 minutes of viewing. On the video the game
has been broken down into twelve stages which may give a false impression
of the time allocated to each stage. You may be a little confused about
some of the names used in the video version of the game. We find that
younger children respond positively to humorous versions of their biological
identity. Thus, Bigmouth is a frog, Smelly a fungus, Wriggly a worm, Yellowtop
a dandelion and so on.
The data gathered from the game can be used in many ways. Figure 5.4.9 shows a food web derived from the game. This food web was created by transferring the data from 20 (out of a total of 150) body substance cards used in the game onto one sheet of paper; the food web has been arranged in order of trophic levels. Figure 5.4.10 shows you what an animal diagram, a sample data card and body substance cards look like.
Having played the game or viewed and discussed the video, look at Figure 5.4.9 a food web diagram produced by children after they had played the game. Figure 5.4.9 resembles food web diagrams found in many ecology text books.
Task 1. Play the food chain game in Box 5.4.3. Discuss the flow of energy and materials through this chain. Repeat the exercise, using different organisms.
Task 2. Extend the second chain by bringing in decomposers at the top and the non-living components of the ecosystem, such as rock, below the green plant. Model the cycling of nutrients by making the connection between the waste products of the decomposers and the green plant producers.
Task 3. Play the food web game in Box 5.4.3 by starting with one of the food chains you have modelled previously. Bring in other organisms but this time use string to get the new organisms to connect with all the other organisms on which they could feed. This should quickly become an impossibility! The purpose of the activity is to demonstrate the complex interactions which operate in a living system.
Task 4. Look at Figure 5.4.9. Divide into groups of three or four. Each group should try to predict the impact of a different one of the following events upon a forest ecosystem.
farmers utilise insecticides in the area when plants are in flower. This
seriously reduces the population of pollinating insects and has a lesser
impact on other insects.