Genetic Drift Activities & Games

Instructor: Nora Jarvis

Nora has a Master's degree in teaching, and has taught a variety of elementary grades.

Genetic drift is one of several forces that make up evolution. This lesson will provide activities and games for your class as you teach them about genetic drift.

What Is Genetic Drift?

Evolution is a long process, and there are many different factors that affect how organisms change over time. One aspect of evolution is called genetic drift, in which a population is altered by a chance event. This event results in a change in the genetic makeup of that population.

As your students learn about genetic drift, it will be important to give them opportunities to identify examples and learn about what this form of adaptation entails through hands-on and engaging activities and games.

Hypothetical Genetic Drift

After your students have a basic understanding of genetic drift, challenge them by having them make up one way that an organism could experience genetic drift.

  • Divide your students into pairs and have them decide on an organism to use for their project. They might do a plant or animal, but encourage them to choose one that they're already fairly familiar with.
  • Students then decide on an event that could cause genetic drift in their population. These ideas can be funny or unrealistic, but they should be able to explain how the alleles change as the generations reproduce.
  • Ask your students to create a genetic map that depicts how the alleles in their populations experience a genetic drift to alter the organism.

Simulating Genetic Drift

Use classroom materials to simulate a random event in a population and the genetic drift that could result.

  • Divide your students into groups of 5 to 6.
  • Give each group a bag of pom-poms of varying colors (choose 4-5 colors), and have each student pull out 10 pom-poms from the bag. They should divide their pom-poms into color groups and determine the percentage of each color. For instance, they might have 3 red pom-poms, which means the reds make up 30% of the population.
  • Students combine all the pom-poms that each member picks out, along with the rest of the bag of pom-poms, and complete the same percentage process for the whole population.
  • Then each student chooses 10 pom-poms at random, and re-calculates the percentage that the pom-poms make.
  • In their groups, students answer the following questions:
    • How are the percentages different from each individual pull versus the whole population?
    • How do the pom-poms represent the alleles in a population?

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about Study.com
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account
Support