Pressing concerns about sustainability and the state of the environment amplify the need to teach students about the connections between ecosystem health, toxicology, and human health. Additionally, the Next Generation Science Standards call for three-dimensional science learning, which integrates disciplinary core ideas, scientific practices, and crosscutting concepts. The Bio Bay Game is a way to teach students about the biomagnification of toxicants across trophic levels while engaging them in three-dimensional learning. In the game, the class models the biomagnification of mercury in a simple aquatic food chain as they play the roles of anchovies, tuna, and humans. While playing, the class generates data, which they analyze after the game to graphically visualize the buildup of toxicants. Students also read and discuss two articles that draw connections to a real-world case. The activity ends with students applying their understanding to evaluate the game as a model of biomagnification. Throughout the activity, students practice modeling and data analysis and engage with the crosscutting concepts of patterns and cause and effect to develop an understanding of core ideas about the connections between humans and the environment.
The current reform in U.S. science education calls for the integration of three dimensions of science learning in classroom teaching and learning: Science and Engineering Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Disciplinary Core Ideas. While the Next Generation Science Standards provide flexibility in how curriculum and instruction are structured to meet learning goals, there are few examples of existing curricula that portray the integration of these dimensions as “three-dimensional learning.” Here, we describe a collaborative board game about honey bees that incorporates scientific evidence on how genetic and environmental factors influence variations of traits and social behavior and requires students to collaboratively examine and use a system model. Furthermore, we show how students used and evaluated the game as a model in authentic classroom settings.