Carpenter students learn biodiversity through discussion, games


Nathan Stevenson of the Iowa Learning Farms “Water Rocks” youth outreach program speaks to third-graders at Carpenter Elementary School Oct. 31. (Photos by Pete Temple)

Playing a game of Jenga to learn about connections between different kinds of living creatures are third-graders Bailey Duwa (left) and Karley Tobiason, as Quinn Thomas (far right) and Emee Himes-Luensman, among other classmates, look on.
By: 
Pete Temple
Express Associate Editor

     What does a game of Jenga have to do with biodiversity?

     That question and more were answered as Nathan Stevenson and Brandy Case Haub from the Iowa Learning Farms “Water Rocks” youth outreach program visited Carpenter Elementary School Tuesday, Oct. 31.

     The pair met with each of three third grade sections at Carpenter in a presentation called “Trees, Bees and Biodiversity.” The event helped students learn about the interwoven connections between different living creatures.

     Through signs, the students learned that biodiversity is all of the living things in a certain area, and that an ecosystem is a community of living organisms and their environment.

     Case Haub gave students an example of how living creatures work together in an ecosystem. She used an analogy of bolts in an airplane’s wing, and how each of them is important, noting that if several of the bolts are missing, the plane is less safe.

     Students viewed a poster of trophic levels, noting the differences between different kinds of animals and what they can consume. If the population of animals at one level decreases, it affects the other levels, Stevenson said.

     To demonstrate this, Jenga came into play. The Jenga blocks were colored differently based on the trophic levels. Students heard a situation from Stevenson, resulting in a different colored block having to be removed.

     Eventually, of course, the blocks all came down, teaching students that if any particular level is depleted, it can cause the whole ecosystem to be thrown off balance.

     Iowa Learning Farms is a division of Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

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