Card game teaches livestock genetics
A free online resource for children will teach how genetics research can help East African livestock thrive.
A fun, educational game and classroom resource that highlights the benefits of genetically improving African dairy cows is now available online.
The free resource ‘More Milk Zuri’ teaches genetics and how selectively breeding livestock with the right combination of DNA can help improve the productivity and health of their offspring.
The story explores how genetics can be used to help an African cow called Zuri to produce offspring with enough milk to feed all the children in her village, highlighting the vital role that livestock has in rural smallholder farming families and communities in East Africa.
It also introduces the concept that whilst breeding with non-native bulls can potentially increase a cow’s milk yield, breeding with native bulls will ensure that other beneficial characteristics that allow them to breed in challenging conditions are retained.
The classroom resource was developed by a team from the Centre of Tropical Livestock Genetics and Health (CTLGH), the Roslin Institute, Easter Bush Science Outreach Centre (EBSOC) and scientific illustrator Eliza Wolfson. It builds on the key messages from the ‘More Milk Zuri’ comic that was launched in 2020.
It has been designed for pupils aged 8-14 years old and links to the school curriculum with regard to cells, inheritance and topical science as well as to social science, literacy and sustainability.
The resource includes a worksheet, a classroom presentation and a downloadable card game. Teachers wishing to share the comic with their pupils can apply for hard copies to be sent to them.
More than 60 pupils piloted the game and classroom resource and gave it a glowing reference, describing it as fun and interesting.
Collaboration with East Africa
The team worked with researchers and those with a knowledge of tropical dairy industry to ensure that the resource was scientifically accurate and culturally relevant, and hope that the resource will be used in schools in Africa.
Having accessible, curriculum-linked resources, means that teachers can enrich their pupils’ learning with contemporary scientific research and technology. Science education needs to focus on helping learners from a young age to understand how science can be used to solve real-world problems.
We are so happy to be able to highlight the benefit of genetic improvement of livestock to school children in this fun and engaging way. Dairy cows are a vital resource in rural smallholder communities. We hope that this game will increase children’s knowledge.
** The Roslin Institute receives strategic investment funding from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and it is part of the University of Edinburgh’s Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies. **