24 April Science 7 Simulations and Natural Selection/Evolution

How and why do scientists use simulations? (Simulations are one kind of model. In a way, they are explanations that can be tested. For students a simulation can be useful if it provides insight into the actual phenomena under investigation. However, there is a danger that the game-like aspects of the simulation distract the player-scientists from the ideas and beliefs about games and “winning” obscure learning about the target ideas. As we look at these simulations (games), consider the target ideas and the extent to which you gain insight or become distracted. (An examination of how evolution is investigated–using simulations: https://repository.upenn.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2924&context=edissertations)

Where do you see game theory (you will need to find out more about this) assisting in an understanding of evolution by natural selection? by other forms of selection?

Population simulations

Oh Deer!

Population with invasive species, predators, etc.

Carrying capacity–Limiting factors

Year Deer Water Shelter Food

Survey Predator-Prey (games / simulations)

Prisoner’s Dilemma–Game Theory–Intro to Summative Assessment

Upcoming assessment.



Carry out the bird beak simulation (see handout or link above). Additional instructions will be given in class. Collect all data.

As individuals:

Make a visual display of the data (be sure to following good graphing practices–choose a scale that covers all the data, that makes the graph as large as possible AND that is convenient). Label axes with variable name and unit. Include a title. Graph first in pencil and make sure it is correct before using ink. Write a summary of the simulation explaining the procedure, the data, and the way natural selection of beak size is modeled. Be sure to connect the data to your ideas. Also describe which parts of the simulation correspond to reality and which parts do not. Also make a statement referring specifically to the standards. The visual display and written portion are due at the end of the next class. They should be submitted in hard copy AND uploaded correctly in your digital science notebook. You must do original work.

Natural Selection and Adaptation SA

  1. Students will carry out a simulation related to the natural selection of bird populations in the Galapagos. The simulation will generate quantitative data based on bird beak size.
  2. Data is collected from the bird beak simulation and analyzed.
  3. Analysis is made and conclusions drawn with respect to structures, environmental effect on bird populations, adaptations, and natural selection.
  4. Product: 1. Visual presentation of the collected quantitative data and analysis. 2. A brief summary of the simulation, collected data, and the cause and effect relationship between beak size and natural selection of bird populations.

The learning standards to be assessed:

Science and Engineering Practices

  • Developing and using models
  • Using mathematics and computational thinking

Cross Cutting Concepts

  • Cause and effect
  • Structure and function

Disciplinary Core Ideas

  • Natural selection and adaptations

Reading and Video–context for Assessment

finches  (Read pp. 121-124. Read about activity pp. 125-134–do not conduct this activity–just prepare your mind. Read about activity pp. 135-140–do not conduct this activity–just prepare your mind. Read about activity pp. 142-144–do not conduct this activity–just prepare your mind. )

We will watch this video together. You may watch it beforehand to identify your questions. http://www.hhmi.org/biointeractive/origin-species-beak-finch

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