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Topic The Bean Game – Exploring Human Interactions with Natural Resources
Subject Social Studies/Science
Grades Intermediate, Middle level, High School
Overview: This activity explores the various influences of human consumption of natural resources over time.  The class is divided into groups of five with each group member representing a different generation of the same family (great great grandparent, great grandparent, grandparent, parent, child).  Families review the importance of natural resources for their survival.  In this roleplay simulation, a large bin of pinto beans represents the natural resources available to all families and all generations on earth.  Each small group family is given a tool that is used to consume natural resources to ensure their survival (tweezers, tongue depressor,  small spoon, large spoon, coffee scoop).  Each generation is given 10 seconds to consume natural resources by using their tool to collect pinto beans from the large bin.  This short time period represents a lifetime.
ST Concepts & Habits Concepts:

  • Change over time
  • Structure generates behavior

Habits of a systems thinker:

  • Considers both short and long term consequences of actions.
  • Identifying the circular nature of complex cause and effect relationships, i.e. interdependencies.
  • Considers  how mental models affect current reality and the future.
ST Tools
  • Behavior-over-time graphs
  • Tragedy of the Commons archetype
  • Iceberg
Standards Explain the effects of interactions between human and natural systems, including the changes in the meaning, use, and distribution of natural resources.
Explain ways that humans depend upon limited resources and adapt to, and affect, the natural environment
Know how interactions between man-made factors, natural features, and people influence the exchange of culture, goods, and ideas in Arizona.

Implemented by: Tracy Benson

Submitted by: Tracy Benson

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