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Deadly Plant Invaders Game
After planning this game and conducting evaluation activities, the students will be able to state the following about non-native plants:
1. Non-native plants compete with native plants for food, water, shelter, and space.
2. Non-native plants are often aggressive and may quickly crowd out native populations once introduced.
3. Removal of non-native plants by hand pulling, introduction or natural predators or disease, and passing legislation to prohibit sale of some non-native plants are methods that can be used to control non-natives.
Students will learn about the impacts of non-native plants have on native species by attempting to gather adequate minerals, water and space through a highly active role-playing game.
One of the most serious threats to the natural communities of plants and animals today is the introduction of non-native plant species by humans. When a certain non-native or exotic plant species is allowed to invade a natural native plant population, the results can be devastating for the natives. Often natural diseases or predators are not brought with the plants to their new homes thus causing a great growth in population size. This can lead to a decrease in native plant and animal diversity in a region as these uncontrolled species increase in number. The non-native species often out-compete native in obtaining the essential requirements for growth.
This decrease in plant diversity affects many different food chain and may lead to a mono-culture of plants and animals where once there was variety. Loss of endemic or native plant species may mean loss of valuable genetic material which could someday provide valuable medicines or foods. Loss of diversity makes our world a little less interesting and less beautiful.
This game will introduce your students to the dilemma of the deadly plant invaders.
4 cones or other markers to mark edges of playing field.
3 different colored playing pieces (poker chips work well). The total number of pieces will vary with the size of the group. Provide one playing piece of each color per player so that each player is able to survive the first round.
1 arm band for each player (all the same color)
3 arm bands of a different color than those used above
3 soft balls (Nerf type)
Whistle to signal the end of each round
What do non-native plants compete with the native plants for?
What can non-native plants do to populations of native plants? How?
What can be done to control non-native plants?
Would passing laws to prevent sale of non-native plants that may cause threats to an area if they escape be a good idea? Why?
Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of introducing natural but non-native predators and disease to an area to help eliminate the non-native plant species.
Discuss the effects herbicides may have on the bio-diversity of an area if used to eliminate non-native plants.
References and supporting materials
Did You Know?
The North Country National Scenic Trail connects outstanding scenic, natural, and cultural sites in seven northern states from Crown Point, New York, to Lake Sakakawea in North Dakota. The trail was established on March 5, 1980. Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is home to 42 miles of the NCNST. More...