I designed this live-action mystery game to target a key ecology objective: The learner will use evidence of interdependence to predict how changes in a community may affect other organisms in the community. Inspired by escape rooms and murder mystery dinner parties, I wanted to give learners a taste of the excitement of analyzing real-world problems like researchers as part of their own social ecosystem. Student teams were presented with a realistic context (the “case of the salmon famine,” which I based on several actual scientific studies), a competitive challenge (to be the first to solve the mystery), an exciting activity (solving short riddles that activate background knowledge about communities and food webs to earn clues) and immediate feedback (through talking with the game master, “Dr. Flo Banks”). Some of the clues, including bar graph data, stream water quality reports, message board posts, posters, and fake newspaper articles, were directly fabricated; others were clipped from scientific journals and websites.
Learners were quickly swept into the game-like atmosphere I created, quickly becoming very motivated to win!
Click here to read the mystery summary.