Using the ‘We Are The Rangers’ Minecraft: Education Edition, students investigate the relationship between elephant and man. Game/Play NGSS courses Online Project-Based STEM
- Students develop an understanding of the complex issues surrounding habitat destruction and land-use conflict
- Students use case studies to identify solutions that have been tried and tested – and use tools to assess their relative success
- Students use their developing understanding of the needs and preferences of both elephant and human communities to design and trial a range of solutions in Minecraft
New Generation Standards
- NGSS – HS-LS2-7. Design, evaluate, and refine a solution for reducing the impacts of human activities on the environment and biodiversity.
• What is subsistence farming?
• What is crop raiding?
• What do we mean by land-use conflict?
• Why is it important to consider both the elephant and human perspectives when exploring land-use conflict?
• What are the social, political, economic and environmental solutions to reducing human and elephant conflict?
1. Introduce students to the Ecoexist map showing the area of the Eastern Panhandle of the Okavango Delta in northern Botswana. This area is home to an estimated 15, 000 elephants, but as you can see from the map it is also home to many villages – in fact, 15,000 people live within the Delta region.
2. Introduce the students to the concept of subsistence farming – the traditional way of farming in the Delta. Ask them to consider:
a. What would life be like in your home/street if the only food you ate had to be grown in your garden?
b. What food do you think you’d be able to grow most of? What wouldn’t you be able to grow (therefore eat any more!).
c. What impact would this have on the availability of food (e.g. spring and winter?)
d. How would your family make sure you had enough to eat all year round?
3. Illustrate the similarities between this scenario, and the ways in which subsistence farmers view elephants when they threaten their crops and their ability to feed their families. You may wish to ask students to consider the additional problems that elephants pose (compared to human neighbors in the scenario) using the quote below
“Imagine having your entire livelihood destroyed by a beast that comes in the dead of the night. Imagine defending your homestead from a monster weighing close to a hundred times your weight, one that knows exactly where you are through its extraordinary sense of hearing and smell, while your only useful sense is reduced to what you can see in a dim circle of light from a flashlight with failing batteries. Imagine being too poor to buy new batteries.”
4. Invite the students to consider that up until now, they have been investigating the issue of threats to wildlife from the perspective of the endangered animals. However, this quote illustrates that there are sometimes important factors/drivers for people’s behaviors and choices. In the following activities, they will practice using balance to explore the issue from the human perspective.
5. Invite the learners to visit the Village by the Lake in We Are The Rangers – World Two. Here they should interact with the staff at the Ranger outpost before moving to the first village and interact with as many locals as possible to gain an understanding of the challenges of living close to elephants.
They may wish to investigate:
a. Why people and elephants live so close together
b. What elephants do that makes locals angry/upset/worried
c. What humans do that makes elephants angry/upset/worried
1) Have groups share these ideas as part of a wider class discussion.
2) Now ask the students to visit the second village. This is an example of a village that has been working very hard to learn to co-exist with elephants. The students should explore the map, and interact with the villagers looking for clues to changes that have been made to reduce human/elephant conflict.
3) After the students have had sufficient time to explore the second Village, they should begin to formulate a list of the solutions they found the villagers to be using.
4) With a host of solutions now available to them (village design, chili plants and bee hives, invite learners to creatively plan how they would design their own village and farms in another area of the map (near water) so that they too could coexist with the elephants. Have them plan and sketch their ideas before building their solutions in Minecraft.
5) Finally, invite the students to visit the United for Wildlife and WildLabs website, where they can research the work that has been undertaken using technologies. Additional information on Conservation Technology can by found on ZSL website.
- Critical Thinking