Categories: Danielle Basore, Lessons and Activities, Photos, Science Club
On the last day of after school (May 7) for this year, I played a board game called Primordial Soup with the students. I have brought this game periodically throughout the school year. The goal is to acquire genes for your herd (pod? pack?) of amoebas to help them survive and thrive in the primordial ooze. The genes give them abilities like fast movement, eating less food, living longer, and armor for protection from carnivorous amoebas. However, these genes come at a cost. The player must purchase genes with biological points (game currency) which are also used for spawning new amoebas and for movement and defense. Also, because the game takes place on primordial Earth, there is a radiation level. Should your amoebas have too many genes, they will become irradiated and lose some of them. It is a complex game, but by playing it the students are learning biological concepts that will be useful later on. They learn about radiation damage to DNA, the biological cost to being an advanced organism, and if they wish to succeed, they learn to develop a genetic strategy for survival. I think they enjoyed playing very much, and I enjoyed watching each of them come up with a strategy over time. One of them adopted my personal favorite plan: the insect amoeba. This involves the genes “Spores” which allows amoebas to spawn in any square on the board, and “Division Rate” which makes spawning new amoebas less expensive. They are not very sturdy, so they die easily, but it is cheap to respawn them in any location. Another popular strategy was to acquire as many movement genes as possible so that amoebas can get to food and away from predators quickly. Defensive genes were also in high demand, making amoebas impervious to attack. I am glad that they enjoyed playing this game with me, it is one of my favorites and I think they learned a lot through the fun.