Evolutionary tree and speciation games–yes, fun! (But who has the time?)

A couple of weeks into my internship, Hannah asked if I could take a quick-ish look into what games and/or simulations we could use in the program session on evolutionary trees–how to make them, what they tell you, etc. This is what I was able to come up with for her:

Hi Hannah,

[snip]

Unfortunately, I haven’t found all that much good and/or interesting digital stuff out there so far. Seems like card games might be the best bet. Anyway—

If this (digital option) actually seems worthwhile, might we be able to get our hands on it somehow?—

Build-A-Tree
https://lifeonearth.seas.harvard.edu/learning-activities/bat/
(reviewed here, as part of a suite, apparently:) http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/blogs/education/2014/07/life-on-earth-project-turns-evolution-into-a-gaming-experience/

This card game is a little more on the gaming-intensive side, takes 45-60 minutes (apparently), and is for a slightly older audience (10+):
Terra Evolution: Tree of Life
http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/111426/terra-evolution-tree-life

This card game (a Kickstarter-funded thing) doesn’t come out until November, is more for middle school and up (8+), takes less time to play (I’m assuming), but might be a little closer to what you’re looking to do in the session:
Go Extinct! Go Fish…evolved
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/aemarcy/go-extinct-go-fish-evolved
https://www.facebook.com/GoExtinct/info?ref=page_internal (Maybe worth looking at the press kit they provide the link for here?)

And maybe there’s something to be related/taught with this online puzzler?—
Phylo
http://phylo.cs.mcgill.ca/

The following day (that I was in the museum) she asked if I could look into games about speciation (which I did have to look up to make sure I thoroughly understood). Didn’t have to twist my arm to look for more good (or at least decent games):

Hi Hannah,

Here’s what I’ve been able to find (that looks halfway decent) so far.

http://www.speciesgame.com/
(Currently in Alpha. Pretty sure Windows-only. Gameplay probably takes awhile.)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fY-6u1BmIws

http://www.swimbots.com/
(Gameplay probably shorter.)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X9D7FxB8cOk

http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/62219/dominant-species
(Complex gameplay that takes a long time. Site lists 3 hours. Does look to get good reviews, though.)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g14E0Cc8Me4

One of the challenges of this program is how little time there actually is with the students–to help/get them to learn things. Three hours a session twice a week isn’t all that much, really, especially given all the content this program is looking for them to be exposed to. And we don’t/can’t really assign them homework (mostly because students are very unlikely to do it on a regular basis). So, this means that it’s highly unlikely that students would be able to spend any significant amount of time on any of the games that are genuinely educational, because these games (like most things) require a significant time investment in order to really get anything out of the experience.

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