TROY — Disturbing the natural order of life is not a game, but one group of children has made learning about the effect of trophic cascade more fun.
The Waka Waka Wacos created the “Keeping It Balanced!” board game to help teach others how removing a part of an ecosystem has drastic effects on the environment.
The team participates in the First Lego League and will compete at the University of Dayton on Saturday. The team is sponsored by the WACO Historical Society Learning Center. The team had to conduct research on a topic related to the animal and human relationship to coincide with this year’s theme “Animal Allies,” as well as design and program LEGO robotics throughout their season.
The team designed a set of board games after researching how removing wolves from Yellowstone National Park effected plants and animals, throwing off nature’s balance.
“If part of the ecosystem gets removed, then some animals over populate and destroys the ecosystem, but when they reintroduce the predators everything goes back to normal,” said Kaiser Werling.
“When they took the wolves out of Yellowstone then the whole place started to die and the deer were everywhere — but when they brought the wolves back, everything was fine again,” Kyle Packard said.
The Waka Waka Wacos presented a copy of the game to Brukner Nature Center and Miami County Park District this week.
“They said it was a very good game, it may be a little challenging for younger kids, but older kids could learn from it,” J.D. Dillman said.
“We spent about three months researching it,” Packard said.
The game incorporates Jenga bricks, which mimic nature’s building blocks. The team created 36 trivia cards to quiz one another about the trophic cascade phenomena. If the answer is wrong, one must pull a Jenga brick out of the tower, potentially knocking it off balance.
“We combined Jenga and used a little bit of Monopoly for the game,” Packard said.
“Everybody wins except the person who knocks down the ecosystem,” Kaiser shared.
PJ Glover, 11, said he learned a lot about animals and the environment during the FLL season.
Members of the team are: PJ Glover, 11, student at Van Cleve Sixth Grade; JD Dillman, 11, Bethel Local School; Kyle Packard, 9, Kyle Elementary; Kaiser Werling, 12, Van Cleve Sixth Grade; Taylor Brown, 14, Bethel Local; Fiona Adkinson, Troy Junior High; and Brooklyn Halter, Van Cleve Sixth Grade.
Follow Melanie Yingst on Twitter @Troydailynews