Natural Selection Project Ideas

Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

Natural selection describes how some organisms thrive based on the heritable traits that are passed on to their offspring. The following projects allow students to apply what they have learned about natural selection.

Natural Selection

Over several generations, a species tends to change because certain heritable traits support the organism's survival and ability to reproduce, thereby becoming more prevalent. Natural selection is the process by which evolution occurs. This asset contains projects that enable secondary students to communicate what they know about natural selection.

Key Terms:

  • adaptations
  • environment
  • evolution
  • natural selection
  • organisms

Guiding Questions:

  • What are some examples of natural selection?
  • What are some adaptive traits?
  • What evidence of natural selection exists?

Create an Organism

Materials:

  • dice
  • computer/internet
  • drawing paper
  • colored pencils

Procedures:

  • Divide students into small groups. Have students roll a die 3 times to select some parameters of their imaginary organism. Use the chart below to determine the meaning of each roll. Students should write down the environment, disaster, and class of their organism.

1 2 3 4 5 6
Habitat Desert Ocean Forest Grassland Tundra Roll Again
Disaster Fire Flood Drought Epidemic Ice Age Storm
Class Mammal Bird Fish Reptile Amphibian Invertebrate
  • Have students research the history of some animals within the same class. Students should specifically look for information about:
    • How have similar organisms evolved over time?
    • What do similar organisms eat?
    • What are some natural enemies of organisms in this class?
  • Have students use this information to create a 4-6 frame cartoon about how natural selection has changed their imaginary organism over time. The cartoon should include the following:
    • name and description of the organism
    • organism's diet and habitat
    • description of how disaster changed the environment
    • 2 adaptations the organism made

Natural Selection Experiment

Materials:

  • goggles
  • clear varnish
  • green yarn
  • brown yarn
  • white yarn
  • scissors
  • green construction paper
  • tweezers
  • cup
  • timer

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