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Debra Spielmaker

Tootsie Roll Conversation About Conservation Terms

In our efforts to protect the environment we sometimes confuse the terms preserve and conserve. This activity is designed to help students understand the difference between conservation, preservation, and indiscriminate use.

Time to Complete
30 minutes
  • Tootsie Rolls, 1 per student 
  1. Divide the class into three groups, and give each student a Tootsie Roll.
  2. Instruct each group as follows:
    • Group 1: These students are to eat the Tootsie Roll immediately.
    • Group 2: These students may unwrap the Tootsie Roll but they may only lick the candy, they can’t eat it.
    • Group 3: These students may not unwrap their Tootsie Roll during this activity. They may look at it, smell it, measure it, but NOT eat it.
  3. Terms:
    • The students in group one are the indiscriminate users.
    • Group two, the conservationists.
    • Group three, the preservationists.
  4. Discussion:
    • Which group uses the candy but not so fast that more candy can be made?
    • Would it make a difference if we determined the reason for having the candy?
    • What if the group had not eaten in three days, would that make a difference?
    • Which group would be the wisest group?
    • What if the goal was to have the same number of Tootsie Rolls a year from now? Which group would have met that goal?
    • Like any areas of decision making there are no right or wrong answers. Students are encouraged to examine a lot of aspects of the situation, make their decision and be able to defend that decision.
  5. Applying to Areas of Conservation:
    • Preservationists might want to save all trees and all forests no matter what.
    • Indiscriminate users might cut down trees and forests no matter what.
    • Conservationists might want to use the forest by harvesting trees and managing the forest so that it can regenerate itself.
Debra Spielmaker
Utah Agriculture in the Classroom
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