This introductory activity into natural selection is a student favorite! The activity itself is quite simple and fits easily into a 50 minute class period. However, the discussion questions are more in depth and require students to spend time outside of class to reflect in a substantive way upon the week's work before the turn in date. I also like that the activity requires students to revisit rules/norms for graph and data table construction. Students tell me that they like that there is a snack at the end of this!
I typically buy two boxes of the snack for each class of 16 student pairs. I fill solo cups up halfway and tell students that they can eat the contents after they have collected their data. It is a good idea to have a few different flavor options just in case someone is allergic to chocolate.
Alternatively, you can use different colored buttons or other items you might have in the classroom if you don't' want/have time to buy snacks. So long as there are two easily recognizable 'traits' to choose from, you can use many other snack or non food items for this activity. But just to emphasize…kids love the snack part!
This activity dovetails nicely with our doodle work, the Darwin/Lamarck scenario comparisons, and our upcoming peppered moth discussion and simulation. By digging into the basics of natural selection numerous times and ways, students get a deeper understanding and broader picture of the main mechanisms of evolution.
1. Tell students that today they will be exploring the concept of natural selection using Teddy Grahams.
2. Pass out the Teddy Graham activity document and give students a few minutes to read through the introductory paragraphs and directions.
3. Review with them the major points by asking the following questions from their brief reading:
4. Make sure students can differentiate between the happy and sad bears.
5. Remind students they can eat their snacks after collecting data for five generations. Ask each pair of students to come up to get their cup of TGs and a plate/napkin for them to arrange the TGs for data collection.
1. Data collection will take approximately 10-15 minutes and you should expect very little need for clarification or oversight as students engage and work independently.
2. When all student groups have collected their data, ask for the attention of the full class and pass out graph paper.
4. Tell students that their final assignment will contain the following three parts:
5. Ask students to look over their direction sheet again and tell you the type of graph they will be making (line) and then how many lines will be represented on their graph (three: happy, sad, total).
6. Write up the graphing rules on the board again and emphasize that their graphs and data tables must adhere to the rule list in order to receive full credit for their work.
7. Point out where students can find classroom rulers, colored pencils, and additional graph paper and let students get to work on their data representations!
1. As the class session comes to an end, ask students to return their materials to their designated place in the classroom.
2. Once students have cleaned up and returned to their seats, ask for any clarifying questions.