Thursday, 29 October 2015

Human Evolution Card Game for Revision

I recently bought a new card game that my flatmates just adore playing. Sometimes I bring it to school and let my tutor class play it, and two of them have even gone and bought themselves a set to play at home. It doesn't take too long to play a game, somewhere between 15-30 minutes, and can be played with up to 5 players. More than that and it doesn't really work. 

Said game shall remain unnamed, but it was so popular in my tutor class that I wondered - could it be adapted into a study game to help students? I thought about it for a while and thought it would fit well in Year 13 for Human Evolution, to help students become more familiar with key hominids and their features and tool cultures etc. Then I set about making them.

The cards look like this before you print and laminate them: 

and like this when you're playing with them: 

 The story is fairly simple. 

Each player is a museum curator out to collect full sets of species to display in their museum. As a museum curator you can charge the other players entry fees to come and see your species collections, or to come and attend conferences at your museum too. You can also add famous speakers to present about your collections, to charge a higher entry fee. You can go on expeditions into Africa to see if you can find more species or even tools for your collections. Sometimes your museum is robbed, or a pickpocket steals an item from one of your collections. You need to have enough money on the table to pay to visit your friends' museums, otherwise you'll have to pay them with items or species from your collections, argh!!! 

Whenever a species collection card is put down students have to read the name of the species and the piece of information about them out loud. Whenever someone steals from another player and adds it to their own collection, they have to read it out loud again too! This is key, otherwise you're just playing cards and not really learning. You could also quiz them at the end of it. 

Here's a photo of us playing the game on our last day together for the year. Sela has just told John she's going to rob his museum! 

Happy to be playing :)

Overall the card game took me about 3-4 hours to print, cut out each card, stick it to a piece of cardboard, cut it out again, laminate them all and cut them out for a THIRD TIME! Sigh. But if you're willing to invest that time then you'll have a card set to last you forever and the kids love playing it!

Feel free to access it in my Google Drive and make yourself a copy.  
The full rules are in the doc. If you enjoy playing it with your students, maybe you can go out and buy the real game to play with your family and friends, if you can work out what it is :)

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Year 12 Mutation Maltesers Game

Year 12 Bio recently played a game to illustrate how mutations enter the gene pool and change in frequency, and how mutations can be helpful, harmful or neutral (and this can change if the environment changes!)

Equipment needed for this game: 
plastic forks with the middle prongs removed
shot glasses

In this game, students 'live' in different populations at tables around the room. These populations all have a similar niche and are trying to gain access to the same resource - maltesers. These maltesers are found in bowls on a table in the middle of the room.

The game progresses through several rounds or 'generations.'

In the first round, each group has the same adaptation for gathering their resource - plastic forks. Students needed to gather a resource and keep it balanced all the way back to their table, where they could deposit the resource and pass on the fork to the next person. Each group roughly gathered the same amount of maltesers, and they all survived to produce the next generation.

In the next generation one of the populations had a mutation - they lost the middle prongs of their fork! We played another round, and the group missing the middle prongs were unable to gather any maltesers, because the gap in the middle was too big! 

Alas, this was a harmful mutation. It didn't enter the gene pool of the overall population because it failed to help them gain enough resources to survive, and unfortunately that group couldn't pass their genes or alleles onto the next generation. 

(We let the group come back in with a normal fork though, so they could keep playing).

The next generation had another mutation - their adaptation to help them gather was a tablespoon! This turned out to be a helpful mutation, as it was easier to balance and they could gather resources faster than the other groups. 

As they were more successful, in the next generation more groups had tablespoons, as the helpful allele became more frequent in the gene pool.

After a few tablespoon generations another mutation occurred - a teaspoon! I thought this mutation would also be harmful but it turned out to be neutral, as having a smaller spoon didn't seem to affect the ability to balance a malteser in it. 

However!!! Suddenly the environment changed!!

The bowls of maltesers became shot glasses of maltesers. Suddenly having a smaller teaspoon was an advantage in the new environment, as the teaspoon adaptation was too large to get into the bottom of the shot glass. 

The group with the smaller teaspoon SHOULD have had much greater access to maltesers and the next generation should have had a lot greater frequency of alleles for smaller teaspoons. 

However, my class are resourceful and very competitive, and the tablespoon groups quickly worked out that they could use the handle of the tablespoon to scoop out maltesers! So that point was sort of lost, but the rest of the game was good to illustrate how mutations arise and change in frequency in populations over generations, depending on whether they help or harm the organisms' ability to survive or reproduce in their environment.

Mutations in the story:
Fork (at the start)
Fork with prongs missing (harmful, gap too wide for maltesers)
Tablespoon (helpful - easier to balance than fork)
Teaspoon (neutral - turned out to be no different from table spoon)
Change of environment to shot glass (teaspoon advantage now to fit in the glass)

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Charades with Y13 on the Last Day of Term

It was the last day of Term 3, and the last day with our student teacher Miss Graaf... 

What should we do! Definitely learning, but FUN, silly learning! 

John, Kitana, Rapture and Norman had been studying Plant and Animal Responses with Miss Graaf for 4 weeks, so they became group leaders on this day, and went over key ideas and vocabulary from the topic with the other students in the class. 

At the end of our lesson we played charades, acting out the vocabulary in pairs and trying to guess what was being shown. Having pairs meant that students had to discuss a strategy before acting it out and make sure both of them knew what the word was and what to do to act it. 

I have sooo many good videos but I'm struggling to get them off my old Galaxy S2 and onto my Mac.. the two machines are not friends :( 

Here is the short video, unfortunately it only includes two rounds of charades!