Reflection: Intrinsic Motivation Exploring Mutations Lab - Section 2: Mutation Lab


As you watch the video of the students working, be sure to notice how noisy the classroom becomes. However, this is "good noise". The students are engaged, thinking about and working together to make sense of their results. This is what the NGSS is asking us to do. Instead of me droning on about mutations, the students experienced first hand the randomness of the appearance and sustainability of a mutation in a population. Through this experience, they figured out that, although the model is artificial (everyone starts out with the same number of candies, and the same number of mutants), they all ended up with different results and were able to explain how the model applies to real-life.

Using simple and inexpensive labs like this one is a great strategy to get students thinking. This is not a lab with pre-set answers. In this case we had two tables at opposite sides of the mutation prevalence, but I've had cases where all tables remain with a stable mutation population, or we have only one mutation prevalence show up. All of these scenarios are representative of what can happen out in the world, and the fact that students are able to work through their explanations regardless of the outcome is what inquiry is about. Will students be able to remember that mutations may remain in a gene pool or not, and that the answer is a random event? Absolutely! They were not told, they experienced it first hand.

  The Power of the Lab
  Intrinsic Motivation: The Power of the Lab
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Exploring Mutations Lab

Unit 8: Evolution
Lesson 3 of 17

Objective: Students will be able to track how a mutation can affect the gene pool in a population.

Big Idea: Redhots and M&Ms can help explain stability and change in natural systems.

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mutation lab
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