Whilst looking at Ecosystems with year 8, I have tried to emphasise the impact that humans can have on these fragile environments. With our focus on the Amazon and having looked at the structure, foodwebs, life in the rainforest and now how humans interact with the ecosystem, it was clear that many of my pupils saw human involvement as a very black and white issue, cutting trees down was always bad, there was no possible way that deforestation could yield any positives.
As such, I devised a strategy game to allow pupils to see the complexities of resource management through role play, empathy and a game format. Each set of tables was provided with a role ( loggers, government etc). These were differentiated and pupils allowed some time to soak in what the aims of their role were and to read the game rules I had provided for them.
I drew a large chalk grid in one of our courtyards, acquired many many cones from PE and walked the pupils through the game itself. As with any game, there would be winners, although it was more difficult for some groups to achieve their aims than others ( a clear nod to real life challenges). After a few goes each, the pupils fully realised what to do and how to go about it, which was a lovely organic process.
Although the game itself is quite complex, it was a very interesting task as it allowed very strong pupils to lead and explain concepts, which they do not always have chance to do.
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