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Teaching Evolution Through Board Games

Imperfect Simulations


I’ve enjoyed board games since childhood. Recently we've started to use them in the classroom.  In Spring of 2019, along with two graduate students, Morgan Muell and Wilson Guillory, we embarked on a graduate-level course titled Endless Forms and Imperfect Simulations: a gamified introduction to historical and contemporary biogeography.  Our course examined the mechanisms that drive the evolution and maintenance of biodiversity through geological time. The course explored novel active learning techniques to teach difficult concepts. The class format included discussion of primary scientific literature coupled with hands-on exercises (in the form of computer simulations or analog simulations using strategic board games).

In preparation for the course, we played most of the currently available evolution-themed strategy board games. Detailed reviews of the games and their potential educational value are available on the lab webpage: Darwin's Game Night - check them out!


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