Introducing Oligotrophic, a Board Game designed as an interactive learning experience in microbial ecology and biogeochemistry; a tool for science communication; and curriculum for elementary through high school teachers.

The Giovannoni Lab partners with The Science and Math Investigative Learning Experiences (SMILE) Program at Oregon State University (OSU) to develop innovative instructional programs, creating a bridge between our research and elementary and high school classrooms. The SMILE Program is an afterschool program run by Precollege Programs at OSU. With the mission to increase the success of underrepresented and underserved students in STEM degree programs and careers, and deliver high-quality teacher professional development, the SMILE school-university-community partnerships creates STEM pathways for students, building college readiness and promoting access to higher education. The Giovannoni Lab provides teachers with ideas, tools and materials for teaching students about the role of ocean biology in climate change. The centerpiece of our instructional program is a board game called Oligotrophic that was developed by our lab. In the ocean, oligotrophic environments are those with low nutrient concentrations in which competition for resources is a central theme. This game aids students in understanding the research we conduct in our lab group surrounding ecology and physiology of microorganisms that live in the oligotrophic ocean. Oligotrophic simulates real-life microbial relationships and biogeochemical cycles in an easy to learn, age inclusive, and engaging format. It is a strategic tile placement game where players compete to transfer biomass between trophic levels.  Players select and play hexagonal cards based on actual marine microorganisms to accumulate biomass, be influenced by abiotic factors, and interact with other organisms. Oligotrophic encourages students to think creatively through informative gameplay while learning the importance of microbial ecology, biogeochemistry, and the marine carbon cycle, which is key to understanding global climate change.

RESOURCES 

SMILE WORKSHEET DATASHEET TEACHER
SMILE LESSON PLAN DATASHEET STUDENT
SMILE FACT SHEET:  VIRUSES  
SMILE FACT SHEET:  PHYTOPLANKTON OLIGOTROPHIC CARDS AND RULES
SMILE FACT SHEET:  HETEROTROPHS  
SMILE FACT SHEET:  ABIOTIC FACTORS  SLIDES