NAME OF LESSON: Make it a game! (Ideas for turning subjects such as Halloween and Symbiosis into a game!)


Subject Area: Biology


Age or Grade: Middle school


Estimated Length: One class period


Prerequisite knowledge/skills:

Knowledge of game subject is important, but not essential


Description of New Content:

Any and all content of the game could be new to students, or the game could serve as a review or a test of the limits of applying their knowledge.



Students will work in teams to decide on answers to questions, basically in the multiple choice format.


Materials Needed:

Dry erase board or blackboard, prizes (my classrooms liked candy this year! Although winners and losers all got candy), teachers sheet with the topics and answers (see below)



Students are randomly divided into two teams, which sit together on opposite sides of the room.  Each team is given a name and one person from each team is chosen as the reporter. The job of the reporter is to listen to all the team members’ answers and decide what the concensus answer is – the teacher (or “host of the game show”) will only listen to answers from the reporter, so team members need to make sure their answers are heard by the reporter – but not the opposing team!  The teacher flips a coin to see which team goes first, and then reads a statement (see lists of statements below for the Halloween game and the Symbiosis game).  The team whose turn it is reports an answer from one of the three on the board (for Halloween these are Spider, Bat, and Pumpkin; for Symbiosis these are Commensalism, Mutualism and Parasitism) – so basically this is a multiple choice game.  If the team gets it correct, they get a point, and the teacher writes that statement under the appropriate column on the board and draws a line under that team’s name on the board.  If the team gets it incorrect, the other team has one chance to steal the point by guessing the correct answer from the two remaining choices.  The game continues like this until both teams have been given an equal number of statements.  The winners (or all players!) receive a prize such as candy or points on a quiz. 


STATEMENTS FOR HALLOWEEN GAME (answers are in parenthesis): Coming Soon…



STATEMENTS FOR SYMBIOSIS GAME (answers are in parenthesis) (many ideas from the PBS website):

Š      The shrimp is immune to the stinging tentacles of the sea anenomae and hides near it to be protected from predators (commensalism)

Š      Green algae and fungus depend on each other, the fungus gets nutrients from the algae and the algae gets water and nutrients from the fungus (mutualism)

Š      Bacteria on the roots of soybean plants fix the nitrogen from the atmosphere so that it is available to the plant, the bacteria also receive carbohydrates from the plant roots (mutualism)

Š      The hermit crab is less likely to be eaten by a cuttlefish when an anemone rides on its shell, the anenome also gains access to a wider feeding range (mutualism)

Š      The oxpecker bird eats ticks on the hippopotamus’ back (mutualism or commensalism)

Š      The tapeworm attaches to the intestinal wall of the dog and uses nutrients that are absorbed by the dog (parasitism)

Š      The Egyptian plover bird feeds on leeches and other scraps of food in the crocodile’s mouth, the crocodile’s teeth are cleaned by the plover’s feeding (mutualism)

Š      The ant burrows into a thorn of the acacia tree to live and eat sugar secreted by the tree, the ants also attack the tree’s predator’s (mutualism)

Š      The cleaner fish feeds on parasites in the shark’s mouth and gills (mutualism)

Š      The tick burrows into the cow’s skin to suck blood (parasitism)

Š      The legume has nitrogen fixing bacteria on its roots (mutualism)

Š      West nile virus infects the crows that eat virus-carrying mosquitos (parasitism)

Š      The gall insect lays eggs in an oak tree, causing a lump that isn’t harmful to the tree.  It also gets shelter and food from the tree (commensalism)

Š      The bison stirs up insects in the grass, which the cowbird eats (commensalisms)

Š      The cowbird lays eggs in other birds’ nests and the cowbird chicks push out the host eggs and eat the parents’ food (parasitism)

Š      Morel mushrooms help the tree roots absorb water and minerals, and sugar and starches are absorbed by the mushroom  When the tree dies the mushroom produces spores to reproduce. (mutualism)

Š      The monarch butterfly drinks nectar and lays eggs on milkweed.  The monarch larvae eat the milkweed leaves and obtain the leaves’ poisonous chemical which prevents predators from eating them, the monarch also pollinates the milkweed. (mutualism)

Š      The skunk and opposum live in woodchuck’s holes (commensalisms or parasitism)

Š      Mosquitos eat human blood for nutrition to lay eggs (parasitism)

Š      Grape vines grow up the trunk of the ash tree to get more light and space (commensalisms, but some other vines kill the tree which is parasitism)

Š      Freshwater mussels lay larvae on fish which irritate the fish’s scales (parasitism)

Š      The human digestive system contains bacteria which aide digestion and vitamin production (mutualism)