February 23, 2019 – Predator-Prey Simulation Game

We started our meeting by talking about the Nature Connection Pyramid. It tells you outdoor things to do each day, week, month and year. The higher up on the pyramid, the more extreme the activity. Daily is like playing outside. Weekly is more like taking a walk in the woods or gardening. Monthly is like going to a conservation area – which we do every month with Nature Kids. And then yearly is out into complete wilderness. I thought that between going to school and playing in our yard we did okay daily. Weekly, we struggled a little bit. Monthly, we come to Nature Kids. And yearly, if you are an outdoor family, you are likely going to do something. We usually do it on holidays.

Then Rachel, who was our leader that day, told us how to play predator prey. She explained the different levels of the food web: herbivore, omnivore, carnivore, the disease and human. I’ve never played with the disease before. We started playing. We all started with 5 sticks, and we were trying to collect food and water and watch out for our predators – the people who could tag us. Everybody could tag the herbivores. Everybody except the herbivores could tag the omnivores. The human and the disease could tag the carnivores. Only the human can call out the disease. The disease can get everybody.

We all had 5 popsicle sticks – those were like our lives. Every time someone tagged us, we had to give them one of our popsicle sticks. There were food and water scattered around the play area. We each had a card with spots for food and water. There were 6 food and 6 water around the play area – and each one had a hole-punch with a special pattern on it. When we had a set of food and water, we could go back to where we started – which Rachel called the Nature Sanctuary, and if we were a herbivore, we could get 3 more lives; if you were an omnivore you could get 1 extra life; if you were a carnivore you couldn’t get any.

I was an omnivore. I started with 5 sticks, I got 6 from sets, and I tagged 22 people. I got tagged 9 times. How many popsicle sticks did I have at the end?

At the end of the game, Rachel asked how many sticks we still had, as well as how much food and water we had. Depending on how many popsicle sticks you had, she would either tell you that you were an endangered species or overpopulated. If you had a few popsicle sticks, it meant there were not a lot of your species left – either because you had too many predators, or because you didn’t have food and water. If you had lots of popsicle sticks, that meant that you were overpopulated. Then we talked about when one species goes down, their prey numbers go up, and then the prey go down because the hungry predators eat them and then it keeps repeating.

I thought the game was a lot of fun, and we had a big space. There weren’t many actual hiding spots, so you would normally just stay away from your predators while trying to get to the foods and waters. It was fun because you could hide from people and chase people and try to survive.

Written by Joel – age 9, WRN Kids member

Thanks to first-time reporter, Joel, for that awesome description!  Thanks also to Rachel, an amazing naturalist whom we met for the first time Saturday, to the WRN Kids volunteers who help out with whatever needs done, to WRN webmaster, Paul, for posting this, and of course, to the Kids and their families who make learning about nature together such fun.