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Allosaur Survival Game

Teaching Material by American Geological Institute - Starting Point page by R.E. Teed (SERC)
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This resource received an Accept or Accept with minor revisions rating from a Panel Peer Review process

These materials were reviewed using face-to-face NSF-style review panel of geoscience and geoscience education experts to review groups of resources addressing a single theme. Panelists wrote reviews that addressed the criteria:

  1. scientific accuracy and currency
  2. usability and
  3. pedagogical effectiveness
Reviewers rated the resources:
  1. Accept
  2. Accept with minor revisions
  3. Accept with major revisions, or
  4. Reject.
They also singled out those resources they considered particularly exemplary, which are given a gold star rating.

Following the panel meetings, the conveners wrote summaries of the panel discussion for each resource; these were transmitted to the creator, along with anonymous versions of the reviews. Relatively few resources were accepted as is. In most cases, the majority of the resources were either designated as 1) Reject or 2) Accept with major revisions. Resources were most often rejected for their lack of completeness to be used in a classroom or they contained scientific inaccuracies.

This page first made public: Aug 11, 2006

This material is replicated on a number of sites as part of the SERC Pedagogic Service Project


This online computer game deals with why allosaurs hunted as they did, as well as how. The student needs to balance the need for food for energy and growth with the risk of being savaged by one's potential prey or killed outright by another allosaur. The "Big Al" starts out as a 0.2 kg hatchling and ends up as a hunter of sauropods and a parent to the next generation of allosaurs.

Learning Goals

This game teaches players just how difficult survival is even for a fierce predator, especially when it is young. It stresses
  • How much energy it takes to keep a large animal alive or a small one growing
  • The differences in the fauna present in different habitats
  • Natural hazards animals face (like quicksand)
  • How dangerous other allosaurs are!

Context for Use

This is a game that you can show your students in class or lab, then let them play on their own for fun.

Teaching Materials

For this game, each player needs a computer with an Internet connection.
Big Al Game

Teaching Notes and Tips

Instructors may wish to have the students play the game outside of class and ask them questions about the challenges of dinosaur growth and survival.

In general, this is a game where players have to think in order to win. However, they are unlikely to click on "Fact File" button next to the "Attack" button, which is good because all the "Fact File" button does is pause the game. The only other flaw that I can think of is that the small fauna (between insects and little dinosaurs) are all reptiles, no mammals.


None included. The instructor may want to conduct a formal assessment with a written worksheet or questions.

References and Resources

The Dinosaur Videos section of the Discovery Channel website is full of relevant information.


Biology:Ecology:Principles, Environmental Science:Ecosystems:Ecology, Biogeochemical cycling

Resource Type

Computer Applications, Activities

Grade Level

College Lower (13-14):Introductory Level

Ready for Use

Ready to Use, Meets Peer Review Standard:Anonymous Peer Review

Earth System Topics

Biosphere, Ecology


Energy/Material cycles, Biosphere, Time/Earth History


Teach the Earth:Course Topics:Biogeoscience, Environmental Science, Teach the Earth:Teaching Environments:Intro Geoscience