Now published in the May/June 2021 Edition of the National Science Teaching Association journal The Science Teacher!

In the ocean, oligotrophic environments are those with low nutrient concentrations in which competition for resources is a central theme. This game aids students in understanding the research we conduct in the Giovannoni lab group surrounding ecology and physiology of microorganisms that live in the oligotrophic ocean. 

Oligotrophic simulates real-life microbial relationships and biogeochemical cycles in an easy to learn, age inclusive, and engaging format. It is a strategic tile placement game where players compete to transfer biomass between trophic levels.  Players select and play hexagonal cards based on actual marine microorganisms to accumulate biomass, be influenced by abiotic factors, and interact with other organisms. 

Oligotrophic encourages students to think creatively through informative gameplay while learning the importance of microbial ecology, biogeochemistry, and the marine carbon cycle, which is key to understanding global climate change.

Lesson plan.pdf

Lesson plan

Oligotrophic cards and rules.pdf

For teachers

Oligotrophic presentation.pdf


Datasheet teacher.xlsx

Teacher datasheet

Student handouts

Student worksheet.pdf

Student worksheet

Datasheet student.xlsx

Student datasheet

Fact sheets

Virus fact sheet.pdf

Fact sheet: 


Phytoplankton fact sheet.pdf

Fact sheet: 


Heterotroph fact sheet.pdf

Fact sheet: 


Abiotic factors fact sheet.pdf

Fact sheet: 

Abiotic factors

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