Rationale: The balance of biodiversity depends on delicate, often unnoticeable interactions between different species and their natural environments. This balance is somewhat similar to a game of "pick-up sticks."
Game Play: Follow standard rules of play – scatter sticks and use one designated stick (check your set for specific rules) to pick out individual sticks without moving others. Students can accumulate points by getting certain colored sticks (again, look to your set for designations) and the first to reach a certain point amount wins.
Observations: What was easy, what was difficult?
Speculate: What do you think we might learn from this game about ecosystems, biodiversity, and interconnectedness?
Students may bring up concepts like:
1.) How closely connected each stick is and how it is hard to move one without affecting the others – species are closely connected in ecosystems
2.) How fragile the whole system is
3.) System being affected by outside force
Explain that today’s lesson will explore these themes as we explore the ecosystem of New York Harbor, using two main concepts of interconnectedness and biodiversity.
Define Interconnectedness: being connected with each other (record in journal or worksheet)
Define Biodiversity: the variety of life in the world or in a particular habitat or ecosystem; the number of different kinds of life forms in a given area (record in journal or worksheet)
Context: Read http://www.thebluedotpost.com/why-biodiversity-and-the-interconnected-web-of-life-are-important/ for quick background the three levels of biodiversity (genetic, species, and ecosystem) and explain why each is important for the overall health of an ecosystem.