Title: Ecosystems Aren't a Game313

Key Words: Ecosystems, biodiversity, atmosphere, lithosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere

National Standard: National Geography Standard 8, NH State Standard 12.10.1

Teaching Level: H

Purpose/Objectives: Students will
define an ecosystem.
describe the characteristics of an ecosystem.
describe how the ecosystems work.
identify the importance of ecosystems in environmental issues.

Materials: poster paper, construction paper, glue, scissors, dice

Introduction: This is not meant to be an introductory lesson. This lesson is the culmination of a unit on ecosystems. It is meant to be the introduction to an assessment project.


Put the following key vocabulary words on the board: ecosystem, atmosphere, lithosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere, biodiversity. Ask students to define atmosphere(layer of gases surrounding the Earth), lithosphere,(the thin layer at the surface of theEarth), hydrosphere (the zones of the Earth that contain water in the form of liquid, ice, and vapor), biosphere (the Earth's plant and animal realms).
Then ask students to apply these words to a definition of an ecosystem (An ecosystem includes a community of plants and animal that live together and interacts with the hydrosphere, lithosphere, and atmosphere. The interconnection and flow of cycles between the sphere creates the ecosystem.)
[The definitions above came from the following sources:
Hardwick, Susan Wiley and Donald g. Holtgrieve. Patterns on Our Planet . New York: Macmillan and Company, 1990.
Geography For Life. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Research & Exploration.]
Look at a map of the world and discuss different ecosystems. Discuss the systems in relation to their use by humans. Define Biodiversity keeping in mind the discussions of the use and productivity of different ecosystems. (Biodiversity: the variety of plant and animal life sustained by an ecosystem).

Discuss the Productivity of ecosystems and the Carrying Capacity of different systems.(Productivity is the amount of mass that is produced by living things[Susan Hardwick and Donald Holtgrieve, Patterns on Out Planet, MacMillan Publishing Co. 1990]; Carrying Capacity is the optimal use of the land.)

Discuss in class the ways that an ecosystem can change and the causes of the changes.( Disruptions in the flows of energy and the chemical cycles and the reduction of species diversity.)

Pass out the assignment sheet.

Present the game to a group of judges.

(You can simply grade these yourself, but I find that presenting these to a team of judges and awarding prizes to the three best games inspires students to do their best work. You will need to create a score sheet based on what you want the students to learn from creating the game. )

Evaluation/Assessment: The game is the assessment of your lessons on the ecosystem.

Extension/Enrichment: You can use this type of assessment with National Geography Standard 6 to assess the students understanding of regions.

: How successful was this lesson? Did all students benefit? Were there any surprises? What might you do differently another time? Please note any changes that will make this lesson more effective and useful in the future and pass them along to the NHGA. We appreciate your comments.

Thank you.
The authors.

Ecosystems Aren't a Game

Assignment Sheet

Procedure: The purpose of this assignment is to assess your understanding of ecosystems and to apply your understanding by teaching ecosystems to someone else.

Directions: You are all game creators for Milton Bradley and your company has been hired by the ___________________ School District to create a game that teaches students about ecosystems.

Your job is to create a game that:
1. Defines an ecosystem;
2. Describes the characteristics of an ecosystem;
3. Describes how ecosystems work;
4. Identifies a source of change in an ecosystem and describes how it impacts the ecosystem.

You can create a board game, a card game, a floor game, etc. However, your game must address the criteria above. With the actual game, you must also include directions, a summary of the game, and the learning objectives (what are the players going to learn from playing the game).

The game must be packaged in a designed package stating the name of the game.

Finally, your presentation of the game counts. You are not only creators of a game but also salespeople, so make your presentation clear, concise, creative, and interesting. The more knowledgeable you appear, the better the chance you have of selling the game.

Have fun and be creative!

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