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Bats, moths, and owls the game of nocturnal survival


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Here's a lesson plan for a really fun elaboration of the classic tag-like game of bats and moths. Mine adds owls into the mix and light to show how light pollution messes up the ecological balance and predator-prey relationships in general. Enjoy!

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Bats, moths, and owls the game of nocturnal survival

  1. 1. Bats, Moths, & Owls: The Game of Nocturnal Survival Created by Kevin “Dark Ranger” Poe, 2008 ©, Free and Fair use granted for non-profit, educational purposes. All publication rights withheld pending written permission.Activity GuideSet up Time: 15 minutesIdeal Location: Outside on level ground or in a gymnasiumTime to Do: 45 minutesAudience Age: 6 years to 106 yearsGroup Size: 10-30What’s This Activity About?This activity teaches predator prey relationships and the disruptive impact of light pollution onnocturnal animals. This role-playing game of tag is an expansion on the classic Bats and MothsMarco Polo like game. This version introduces participants to the perils of light pollution. Theultimate goal of this activity is to illustrate that the ecological impact of careless outdoor lightingcauses real strife to the nocturnal world.Materials4-6 blindfolds for the bats2-4 Yellow Hula Hoops to represent artificial lights1 Red Hula Hoop to represent Owl’s Nest1 Brown (Blue) Hula Hoop to represent Bat’s Cave1 large “Distance” die labeled: 1,2,3,4,5,1 large “Direction” die labeled: F (forward), B (back), L (left), R (right), T (toward light), A (awayfrom light)NOTE: Die is singular of dice. Dice is plural.Setting Up the ActivityFind an open level area free of trip hazards. Distribute the light (yellow) Hula Hoops ~ 5 m apart,with the nest (red) and cave Hula Hoop (brown) on opposite sides. See Setup diagram below.Familiarize yourself with the rules – they are a little bit complicated at first. Set-by-step scenariodiagrams below help explain all contingencies.Suggestions for Introducing the ActivityFamiliarize yourself with and then present the first few slides of the MS PowerPoint “Bat’s,Moths, & Owls” to explain the basic predator prey relationships and how light pollutionnegatively impacts them. Bats eat moths. Owls eat bats. Artificial light traps moths and foils owlambushes of bats and other prey. Though bats are attracted to artificial light where trappedmoths are easy targets, bats prefer to nest far way from lights. The longer commute not onlylengthens the time between nursing, but also costs bats most of the energy they obtain justtraveling back and forth, leaving less nourishment for the young. This game also teaches howlight pollution decreases the hunting success of owls because the shadows created from owl’swings give prey early warning.“Bats, Moths, & Owls: The Game of Nocturnal Survival” © by Kevin “Dark Ranger” Poe
  2. 2. Explaining the Games Rules:2-4 participants are moths2-4 participants are mother bats and are blindfolded.1-4 participants are baby bats which must stay in the cave but can see.1-2 participants are adult owls1-2 participants are owl chicks which must stay in the nestThe rest of the participants become trees.MOVEMENT MODES (Free Movement & Dice Directed Movement)Free Movement happens continuously until YOU decide to call “Freeze!”At “Freeze!” all participants instantly stop and await YOUR roll of the dice.Dice Directed Movement pertains ONLY to un-trapped moths and adult owls. These animalsmust do as the dice direct (see examples below). All others remain frozen until Dice DirectedMovement is complete, any outcomes are resolved, and “Free Movement!” is announced byYOU.CAVEThis is where baby bats start and where mother bats tries to return captured moths.ALL bats are safe from Owls while in the cave.NESTThis is where owl chicks start and where adult owls automatically return if they tag a bat.LIGHTSLights trap moths. Moths can’t move until “A” is rolled on Direction Die AND Distance Die >0Lights stun Owls. Owls can’t tag a mother bat while stunned at a light.Owls can be killed while stunned at a light – see OWLSBats are NEVER trapped or stunned by a light.“Bats, Moths, & Owls: The Game of Nocturnal Survival” © by Kevin “Dark Ranger” Poe
  3. 3. BATSMother bats are blindfolded. They have to navigate by listening!Whenever a Mother bat says “Bat!” all participants must respond with their corresponding word.Mother bats can move any direction, at any speed during Free MovementDuring Dice Directed Movement, mother bats ALWAYS follow dice directionIf a mother bat tags a moth, the moth becomes its food and must be willing follow the motherbat (holding hands if necessary) as the bat tries to find its way back to the cave.If a mother bat with captured moth makes it back to the cave, a baby bat (moth’s choice) growsup to become another blindfolded mother bat.If a mother bat is tagged by a perched owl, the mother bat dies and becomes a tree.If all mother bats die, the baby bats starve and also die. GAME OVER. Bats lose!Baby bats can see. They CANNOT give directions to the mother bats.Baby bats say “Cave!” whenever they hear “Bat!”Baby bats must have one foot in the cave at all times.If both baby bat’s feet are outside the cave, the baby bat dies and becomes a tree.TREESTrees can see but cannot move.Trees surround the playing area and keep bats from wandering off by saying “Tree!”A tree becomes a moth when a moth escapes a light (escaping moth picks the lucky tree).When a moth dies it becomes a tree.When a bat dies it becomes a tree.MOTHSMoths can see.Moths have to say “Moth!” EVERYTIME they hear the word “Bat!” and with equal volumeMoths can move any direction, at any speed during Free Movement.During Dice Directed Movement, moths follow dice instructions UNLESS trapped at a light.If a moth foot touches or passes over a Light Hula Hoop the moth is trapped.A moth can ONLY escape a Light if an “A” is rolled on the Direction Die and 1 or greater is rolledon the Distance Die.OWLSDuring Free Movement adult owls must remain “perched.” They can reach out to tag a passingbat but can only move one leg.Owl must move to a new perch as directed during Dice Directed Movement.If an owl crosses into a light during Dice Directed Movement it is stunned and must perch there.An owl perched in a light cannot tag bats.Owl chicks cannot leave (even during Dice Directed Movement) the nest (one foot must beinside at all time) but they CAN tag nearby bats at anytime!Adult owls say “Owl!”Owl chicks say “Nest!”When an owl tags a bat it guides the bat by the hand back to the nest.An owl chick becomes an adult owl when a bat is brought to the nest.After a bat is brought to the nest it dies and becomes a tree.When an owl chick becomes an adult it is allowed to move to any location and “perch.”After an adult owl brings a bat to the nest it immediately “re-perches.”An adult owl can only die when it is stunned at a light and the next roll of Direction Die is “T” ofany distance. Role of “A” of any distance and owl is free to re-perch some where else. Whenowl dies explain that the light represents the headlights of a speeding car and the owl becameroad kill!“Bats, Moths, & Owls: The Game of Nocturnal Survival” © by Kevin “Dark Ranger” Poe
  4. 4. When all adult owls die, all owl chicks starve to death.WINNINGLike real life ecology, the key to this game is survival. So, the goal is not to win, so much as it isto avoid losing. Losing happens when your team/species (owls, bat, moths) dies out OR yoursource of food dies out.When moths die out, everybody starves to death and so everybody loses.When bats die out, bats and owls lose, but moths win!When owls die out, both bats and moths win!Because owls are at the top of the food chain they can never win!Doing the ActivityBefore starting a full-fledged game, walk the participants through some scenarios like thefollowing examples. NOTE: Immediately stop the game to resolve any confusion that may ariseand re-consult the rules, and if necessary, these examples. HAVE FUN!Example 1Example 2“Bats, Moths, & Owls: The Game of Nocturnal Survival” © by Kevin “Dark Ranger” Poe
  5. 5. Example 3Example 4Example 5“Bats, Moths, & Owls: The Game of Nocturnal Survival” © by Kevin “Dark Ranger” Poe
  6. 6. Example 6Example 7aExample 7b“Bats, Moths, & Owls: The Game of Nocturnal Survival” © by Kevin “Dark Ranger” Poe
  7. 7. Example 8Example 9Example 10“Bats, Moths, & Owls: The Game of Nocturnal Survival” © by Kevin “Dark Ranger” Poe
  8. 8. Wrap-upEncourage participants to recount exciting and/or memorable moments in the game andencourage them to speculate about how serious of a problem light pollution can be. Using yourown examples or by presenting slides from the MS PowerPoint “Bats, Moths, & Owls”brainstorm with participants about how they might improve the nocturnal habitat in their ownneighborhoods for the benefit of bats, moths, and owls.Materials Sources:Hula Hoops can be found at any toy store and countless places on line.Wonderful, large (4.5 inch), plastic dice with blank dry erase surfaces can be obtained“Bats, Moths, & Owls: The Game of Nocturnal Survival” © by Kevin “Dark Ranger” Poe