Board Recreation Teaches the Challenges, Uncertainty of IPM – Entomology Right now


By Max Helmberger, Ph.D., and Tim Lampasona, Ph.D.

All it takes is one take a look at Fb to see agriculture has a misinformation drawback. Claims run rampant that genetically modified organisms trigger most cancers or that farmers gleefully poison their crops with pesticides; but, with folks in industrialized economies more and more disconnected from their meals and those that develop it, this shouldn’t essentially come as a shock.

In the course of the COVID-19 lockdown, we, together with Max Helmberger’s doctoral advisor on the time Matt Grieshop, Ph.D., started design work on Pest Quest, a co-operative board sport about bringing peace and revenue to a pest-plagued farm. Our two objectives for the sport have been to show some points of built-in pest administration (IPM) in undergraduate classroom settings and to offer laypeople who play the sport a primary understanding of how insect pest administration selections in agriculture are made and an appreciation for the often-harsh financial realities of recent agriculture. We share the sport and our strategies for its use in instructional settings in an article published in September in the open-access Journal of Integrated Pest Management. (To strive Pest Quest your self, see the online version or a print-and-play edition.)

Pest Quest makes use of a semi-random assortment of face-down “subject playing cards” to symbolize a subject of crops, with a variable cultivar that gamers can select. These playing cards are hidden to gamers and should comprise pure enemies, pollinators, or pest infestations of various severity. Gamers have a restricted potential to “scout the sector” and reveal these hidden playing cards, after which they have to make crucial administration selections based mostly on the restricted info. There’s at all times a danger of underneath spraying a extremely infested row or by accident damaging populations of helpful species! Due to these dangers, gamers are incentivized to well allocate their pesticides, neither drenching the sector in poison nor leaving it to the proverbial wolves. The outcome? Gamers (hopefully) acquire a first-hand understanding of the IPM idea often called the financial threshold—i.e., the extent of pest density or harm that equals or exceeds the price of administration.

Unique designs for the sport have been mechanically intense, requiring plenty of math for gamers to find out the extent of pest harm throughout their subject. These have been refined right into a extra elegant and user-friendly sport expertise by way of repeated prototyping and playtesting with a various viewers of sport designers, informal players, researchers, and college students. The ensuing product is accessible to folks with various levels of sport expertise, in addition to full novices to the worlds of IPM and entomology. That stated, the sport can nonetheless be difficult, with plans that appear optimum based mostly on gamers’ accessible info blowing up of their faces as a pesticide utility fails or undetected pests wreak havoc. Even we, the sport’s creators, don’t at all times flip a revenue after we play, so on this means the sport simulates agriculture’s inherent problem and uncertainty.

In fall 2021, we introduced the sport right into a non-majors entomology course taught by Amanda Lorenz, Ph.D., at Michigan State College, aiming to judge its results on pupil understanding of IPM by way of pre-assessment surveys earlier than they performed the sport and post-assessment surveys afterward. Although this instrument didn’t detect important enhancements in pupil studying above the course as a complete, in our JIPM article we provide insights and strategies for simpler implementation in future programs.

Max Helmberger, Ph.D., is a postdoctoral researcher and lecturer within the Biology Division at Boston College in Boston, Massachusetts. E-mail: [email protected]. Tim Lampasona, Ph.D., is an entomologist and professor of biology at Vassar Faculty in Poughkeepsie, New York. E-mail: [email protected].


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