Deadly Links

Many thanks to Linda Gardner for posting this game to the WAGGGS-L Mailing List!

Please note: This game comes from the "Project Wild" Handbook

Materials: 30 pieces of 'food'/player (1/3 one colour (sprayed with pesticide), 2/3 another colour (no pesticide)) (suggested 'food'--pipe cleaners, 1inch paper squares, 6 inch yarn lengths), 1 paper bag per grasshopper

To Play: Tell players this is an activity about 'food chains'. If they are not familiar with the term, spend time establishing a definition. Divide the players into 3 groups: grasshoppers, shrews and hawks. There are 3 shrews for every hawk and 3 grasshoppers for every shrew. Optionally you can label the different groups (different coloured arm bands, bandanas, face paint, etc). A group of 26 would have 2 hawks, 6 shrews and 18 grasshoppers. Hand each 'grasshopper' a small paper bag (their 'stomach'). With players' eyes closed or not watching, you distribute the 'food' in a large open area (playing field, gymnasium, etc)

Grasshoppers hunt for food first. Hawks and shrews watch quietly on sidelines (like good predators!). Grasshoppers have 30 seconds to collect food in their 'stomachs'. Grasshoppers stop collecting food after 30 seconds. Shrews now hunt grasshoppers, while hawks watch. Depending upon the size of the hunting area, shrews hunt for 15-60 seconds. Grasshoppers continue to hunt for food. Each shrew should have time to catch (tag or touch) one or more grasshoppers. A 'caught' grasshopper gives its food bag to the shrew and then sits on the sidelines. Hawks hunt shrews the next time period (15-60 seconds, again depending upon the size of the area). Shrews hunt grasshoppers. Grasshoppers hunt food. 'Caught' shrews and grasshoppers surrender their food bags and sit on the sidelines. At the end of this period, bring all players together with whatever food bags they have to a circle.

Ask the 'eaten' players what animal they are and what animal ate them. Next, ask the 'uneaten' players to sort and count the two food colours they've eaten. List each surviving grasshopper and the amount of food collected. Next list each surviving shrew and the amount of food collected. Finally, list the hawks and their food. Tell the players that there is a 'pesticide' in the environment. The pesticide was sprayed in order to prevent crop damage by the grasshoppers. This particular pesticide is one that accumulates in food chains and stays in the environment a long time. Tell the players which colour food was sprayed by pesticide. All surviving grasshoppers (those not eaten by shrews) are now dead if they have eaten any food with pesticide. Any shrew with more than half of its food sprayed with pesticide is considered dead. The hawk with the most food with pesticide does not die; however, it has accumulated so much pesticide in its body that the egg shells produced during the next nesting season will be so thin that the eggs will not hatch successfully. The other hawks are not visibly affected at this time.

Ask players about what they experienced. Ask them for their observations about how the food chain seems to work & how toxic substances can enter the food chain, with a variety of results.

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