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Survival of the Fittest, A Game of Populations

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Natural selection, population genetics, migration, competition… these can be difficult concepts to study in a classroom. This game allows kids to simulate the rise and fall of populations as different species interact with their environments and each other. There are two levels of game play. In the first level, students get a feel for the typical interactions amongst and between species including competition, reproduction, migration, and predation. At this level they also experience the potentially catastrophic experience of a variety of natural disasters as well as human intervention.

In this video, I’ll walk you through the basics… it’s for those who prefer to play a new game with a friend rather than read through the rules to get started.

Once students are comfortable with the rules of play, most enjoy trying the extension play where their creatures have special adaptations and vulnerabilities that affect their survival. Now only certain habitats can sustain reproduction or provide camouflage. Each species now has a specific immunity as well as a trait that it is especially adept at. Since different species have different combinations of each of these, the play is unique each time. I’ve written many games for my science class and this is the one that students ask to play again and again even long after we’ve finished our unit.
A blackline version is available for those who prefer to color the game pieces rather than use a color printer.

Equipment Needed::
centimeter cubes (or small counters such as beans)
dice (one per player)
ceramic hexagonal tiles (optional)

To purchase the game click here:
Survival of the Fittest Game

Concepts Addressed
• A population’s size depends on many interacting factors, which are constantly at play.
• A feature that is a strength for one population may prove to be a vulnerability for another.

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