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Solving the Beef

The nonprofit Asombro Institute for Science Education and the Southwest Sustainable Beef Project have released a fun, educational game: Solving the Beef. Our game was developed to support at home high school instruction due to school closures in response to the health crisis. Solving the Beef inspires wonder about agricultural science and New Mexico’s ecosystems.

The game is based on the Sustainable Southwestern Beef Project, in which scientists are studying supply chain options, precision ranching, and heritage genetics for Raramuri Criollo cattle. These topics inspired the game’s current four scenarios: Precision Ranching Tools, Criollo Cattle, Grass-Fed Labeling, and Movement & Rangeland. Scenarios are based on the latest information from the project and were reviewed by a project scientist.

Players randomly choose scenario and constraint cards. The teams have a time limit to think of the problem presented by the constraint for the chosen scenario and then brainstorm as many solutions as possible. After the time has expired, teams alternately suggest solutions. Each unique solution earns a point, and after all solutions have been offered, the team with the most points wins.

For example, if players choose Precision Ranching Tools and the Cost constraint, a player could state that it would be very expensive to set up LoRa and GPS equipment. To “solve the beef,” players would then come up with ways to lower cost, increase revenue, or otherwise minimize the impact of the cost on getting these tools for ranching.

This game encourages players to think broadly, innovatively, and creatively. It also aligns with the high school Next Generation Science Standard (HS-ETS1-3): “Evaluate a solution to a complex real-world problem based on prioritized criteria and trade-offs that account for a range of constraints, including cost, safety, and reliability, and aesthetics as well as possible social, cultural, and environmental impacts.” We look forward to hearing about solutions that students propose, and we will share these possible solutions with the project’s science and extension teams. Over the next four years, the game will be updated regularly, adding scenarios as additional information is published in this study.

Though designed for high school students, adults and younger students have also been playing this game. It’s fun for novices and experts alike. Visit the website ( for all you need to start Solving the Beef too!

By Emilia Linley