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Evolution by Natural Selection

Peppered moths on tree barkIn this minds-on, hands-on activity, students develop their understanding of natural selection by analyzing specific examples and carrying out a simulation. The questions in the first section introduce students to the basic process of natural selection, including key concepts and vocabulary.

The second section includes a simulation activity, data analysis, and questions to deepen students' understanding of natural selection, including the conditions that are required for natural selection to occur. 

In the third section, students interpret evidence concerning natural selection in the peppered moth and answer questions to consolidate a scientifically accurate understanding of the process of natural selection, including the role of changes in allele frequency. 

Download Student Handout: PDF format or Word format

Download Teacher Preparation Notes: PDF format or Word format

The Teacher Preparation Notes provide instructional suggestions and background information and explain how this activity is aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards.  (Analysis and discussion versions of the first and third sections are available at https://serendipstudio.org/exchange/bioactivities/NaturalSelectionIntro and https://serendipstudio.org/exchange/bioactivities/NaturalSelectionMoth.)

We invite comments on this activity, including suggestions for other teachers who are planning to use the activity and any questions you have. If you would prefer to send your comments or questions in a private message, please write Ingrid Waldron at iwaldron@sas.upenn.edu  

Comments

iwaldron's picture

2022 revision

The Student Handout has been revised to improve clarity and student understanding of natural selection. The Teacher Preparation Notes have been revised and streamlined to improve clarity.

Ingrid

Serendip Visitor's picture

simulation Help

I am interested in using this activity with my High School Biology class however I can not find the simulation itself. Am I missing something?

iwaldron's picture

Simulation Instructions

The instructions for the simulation are on pages 4-5 of the Student Handout and pages 5-7 of the Teacher Preparation Notes. An alternative version of the simulation is also provided in the Teacher Preparation Notes.

Ingrid

iwaldron's picture

2018 revision

The Student Handout for Evolution by Natural Selection has been substantially revised to improve clarity and to incorporate more challenges for students to think critically and creatively. The section on peppered moths has been expanded to include student analysis of trends in allele frequencies. In addition, we now offer a small group version of the simulation of natural selection that engages students more actively in understanding the simulation and natural selection. Revisions of the Teacher Preparation Notes clarify the instructions and provide additional background information.

iwaldron's picture

2017 revision

This revision includes improvements in the procedure for the simulation and improved logical flow and questions in the Student Handout (e.g. on pages 2-3). I’m grateful to Brad String for helpful suggestions and comments.

iwaldron's picture

2016 revision

The Student Handout has been extensively revised to help students develop a better understanding of natural selection, with an emphasis on clearer explanations. We have added several diagrams and stimulating questions to enhance student understanding. The Teacher Preparation Notes have also been revised, with special attention to improving the simulation instructions to facilitate smooth execution of the simulation in your classroom.

Serendip Visitor's picture

Is there an awnser key?

Is there an awnser key?

iwaldron's picture

Answer key

Please see page 4 of the Teacher Preparation Notes available at the link above.

iwaldron's picture

2015 revision of Evolution by Natural Selection

This hands-on, minds-on activity has been substantially revised to implement Modeling Instruction; specifically students develop and revise a mental model of the process of natural selection based on analyzing specific examples and a simulation. Our goal is to actively engage students in developing a scientifically accurate understanding of natural selection by a sequence of increasingly sophisticated analyses. We have revised and reorganized the questions in the Student Handout and we have added analysis of evidence for natural selection in the peppered moth in order to help students consolidate a scientifically accurate understanding of natural selection.

Teresa's picture

I will try this!

Hi, I am looking for an activity for natural selection to field test with my students and share to my colleagues. This is perfect lesson for me to start with. I will let you now how it works. I might tweak some parts to fit with my students.

Thanks!!!!!

iwaldron's picture

2013 revision of Evolution by Natural Selection

The major changes in our new version of Evolution by Natural Selection include:

  • revised procedures in the Student Handout to improve student understanding of the process of natural selection by engaging students more actively in generating and analyzing the data for the hunter part of the simulation
  • revised questions to enhance student understanding of natural selection
  • a streamlined version of the simulation and Student Handout which may be more suitable if you have limited time or resources
  • a handout of instructions for student helpers, available in the Teacher Preparation Notes (if you decide to use student helpers)
iwaldron's picture

2012 revision

In this revision of the Student Handout we have made a variety of changes to improve flow and clarity. One major change is that we have reduced the number of colors of pom-poms and the number of types of feeding implements in order to reduce the time spent in carrying out the simulation and data analysis and increase the proportion of time devoted to understanding natural selection. In addition, we have clarified the Teacher Preparation Notes and added a section with Suggestions for Discussion.

Carol's picture

Biology

Thank you for posting these handouts. My high school students enjoyed this activity. I used felt covered with feathers for the habitat. I have a small class, so the "hunter" element had to be altered. I gave one student 10sec. to use each tool and then added the second generation based on her results.

The additional examples on the handout were also helpful.

Seeking AB1 Student's picture

Biology Lab Experiement regarding Natural Selection

Can you explain in detail how the following experiment should be done:

In this experiment the deck of cards represents a school of fish. The number on the cards indicates the weight of each fish. These fish live happily together until a new predator (the teacher) is introduced to their school. This particular predator weighs 20 pounds. As most predators are, this fish is fairly cautious and will not eat any fish greater than or equal to 1/2 its body weight. Also, any of the small fish in the school (defined as being less than 1/4 the weights of the predator) are able to hide from the predatory fish.
Using this information, go through your school of fish (deck of cards) and remove all of the fish eaten by the predator.
1. Describe the composition of the final deck and explain the results based on NUMBER - % - POPULATION.

Questions:
1. What are the 5 componet of natural selection?
2. Define the 3 types of natural selection demonstrated in the lab experiments.
3. What form of natural selectin did experiment 3 demonstrate? Explan

Thank you for your timely response.

iwaldron's picture

2010 revisions

We have improved the questions and logical flow in the Student Handout and the instructions for carrying out the activity in the Teacher Preparation Notes.

Ingrid Waldron

 

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