The loss of biodiversity on our planet is a reality. In fact, the scientific community is already talking about the Sixth Extinction, comparable to that of dinosaurs. In order to better understand this environmental crisis, it is necessary to learn about several fundamental concepts in evolutionary biology. With the aim of transmitting this knowledge to society, a group of researchers from different laboratories at the Institute for Evolutionary Biology (IBE: CSIC-UPF) decided to design a playful and creative outreach activity from scratch.
TreeScape: discover the tree of life’s secrets
Through an Escape Room board game, this group of scientists from the IBE, one of the centres at the Barcelona Biomedical Research Park (PRBB), explain the following situation: the scientific community is desperately looking for a solution to avoid the loss of biodiversity on the planet and, finally, they have found it. However, they have decided to hide this information inside a laboratory to prevent it from falling into the wrong hands. Only people who manage to pass the game tests can find the solution proposed by the scientific community.
TreeScape is a 50-minute activity in which two teams of up to 8 people of any age can participate simultaneously. Participants must cooperate to solve the tests and thus find the solution to stop the massive loss of biodiversity on planet Earth.
The objectives set by the game are:
- Understanding what a phylogenetic tree is.
- Learning different species classification systems.
- Knowing the concept of common ancestor.
- Investigating the microscopic world of protists to discover the diversity of the eukaryotic world.
TreeScapers: the team behind
Both the design of the activity, the making of the materials and the final execution of the game have been possible thanks to a group of 8 people, all of them IBE workers:
- Pau Balart Garcia, PhD researcher.
- Bernat Burriel Carranza, PhD researcher.
- Aurora García-Berro, laboratory technician.
- Aleksandra Kozyczkowska, PhD researcher.
- Michelle Leger, postdoctoral researcher.
- Konstantina Mitsi, PhD researcher.
- Núria Ros i Rocher, postdoctoral researcher.
- Pilar Rodríguez Franco, communications officer.
I Pentàgon UPF Conference: Pompeu Fabra University 1st prize for the best 2019 outreach action
The first time the TreeScape activity was presented to society was at the 2019 Barcelona Science Festival. After the success of this festival, the IBE researchers decided to present the project to the I Pentàgon Conference, organized by the Pompeu Fabra University (UPF). The TreeScapers received the 1st prize for the best outreach action 2019.
#IBEtreescape llega a la clase de #zoología del grado de biología humana de la @UPFBarcelona !Dinamizan la actividad los investigadores del #IBE_Barcelona Núria Ros, Bernat Burriel y Salvador Carranza @CarranzaLab . pic.twitter.com/v8KMqeEqHS
— IBE (CSIC-UPF) (@IBE_Barcelona) February 20, 2020
Thanks to the award, the TreeScapers visited several schools and even a zoology class of the Degree in Human Biology at the UPF. However, as a result of the extraordinary situation we are living, the TreeScapers closed their agenda, for now. Nevertheless, some IBE researchers have decided to reinvent themselves due to the current circumstances and they have developed the online version of this Escape Room about the eukaryotic tree of life.