Grade Levels: 3-5, 6-8

In this lesson plan, adaptable for grades 3-8, students play iBiome Wetland, a game in which players  rebuild a wetland habitat destroyed by a hurricane. Professor Bio guides them on an exploration of a freshwater marsh, where they learn about the habitat’s unique conditions, including its environmental factors and the species that live there. Through play, students discover how the species interact to help sustain life, with the food webs getting increasingly complex as play progresses.

Students will:

  1. Learn about and explore a freshwater marsh and its species.
  2. Build a virtual freshwater marsh simulation.
  3. Classify the elements of a freshwater marsh ecosystem.
  4. Observe and record the effects of adding species to the ecosystem.

Materials:

Preparation:

This lesson plan features a digital ecology game called IBiome Wetland developed by Springbay Studio. The game challenges students to restore a wetland habitat, destroyed by a hurricane, to its natural state by experimenting within a biodome. To do this, students complete a series of tasks that include researching and interacting with the environmental factors and species that enable the habitat to thrive.

Preview and play IBiome Wetland to plan how you will adapt it to your students’ needs. If students will be working in small groups, review tips on Setting Cooperative Gaming Expectations.

Print and make copies of the iBiome Fresh Water Marsh Chart and Diagram Activity and Post-Game Analysis.

For ideas on how to use SnapThought with this game, read iBiome-Wetland: SnapThought Prompts for more information and specific SnapThought prompts to provide students during game play.

Depending on your classroom routines and available technology, you may want to consider these grouping options:

  • 1:1 with students and devices
  • Two to three students sharing one device and swapping ideas and the device back and forth
  • Station model where small groups rotate through using the devices
Build background knowledge or reinforce topics with these BrainPOP movies: Ecosystems, Energy Pyramid , Food Chains or these BrainPOP Jr. movies: Freshwater Habitats , Food Chain .

Lesson Procedure:

  1. Play one of the related BrainPOP or BrainPOP Jr. movies (see Preparation) on the whiteboard or other display.
  2. Begin the lesson with a whole class discussion. Ask students to think of a habitat they know well, such a wooded area in their neighborhood or a local pond. Encourage them to brainstorm not just the plants and animals that live there, but the environmental factors that make up the habitat, such as sun, water, soil, etc.
  3. Project iBiome Wetlands for the class to see. Navigate through the Introduction, reading each screen, or asking volunteers to read.
  4. After the Introduction, model how to complete the first level or “task” by using the “Crazy Web” to drag the sun, soil, and water icons to their respective spots. The first few tasks are instructional in nature, so you may want to go through these as a whole class.
  5. Now students are ready to play independently, in pairs, or in small groups. Remind them of the cooperative gaming expectations. Distribute the Fresh Water Marsh Chart and Diagram Activity for students to complete while they play.
  6. As you circulate the room, help students use the game features if they need help. For example, when they complete each “task”, they unlock a new species. By clicking the bouncing “+” sign, they can “research” the species, discovering its role in the habitat and seeing photographs. Crazy Webs provides a hands-on interface for students to actively identify each element of the ecosystem as environment, producer, consumer, etc.
  7. Once they complete the biome, have students test their simulation by clicking the “Add Species to Dome” button. This tool allows them to add their “unlocked” species to their dome (The button is active after the fourth task). Encourage them to observe what happens when they add extra species to the biome, then record their findings in the Post-Game Analysis.
  8. If students have individual logins through My BrainPOP, encourage them to use the SnapThought® tool to take snapshots during game play, and reflect on their strategies. Review iBiome Wetlands: Additional Features for My BrainPOP for suggested prompts.
  9. Bring the class together to discuss what they learned about the living and nonliving components of a freshwater marsh. What producers and consumers did they learn about? What were some of the consumer/producer relationships? Students should recognize that everything is connected and must be in balance in order for the biome to thrive.

Extension Activities:

Invite students to work in small groups to explore additional multimedia resources featuring freshwater habitats. Have them summarize their findings in a form they agree upon, such as a collage, a concept web, a report, a dramatic scene, etc. Have groups share their findings with the class.
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