Teaching evolution is a difficult topic for a variety of reasons however, this is one activity that my students truly enjoy.
To begin the class period, I give the students each several pieces of printer paper. I keep them in suspense about what they are actually going to do with it. After all the students are ready I reveal my “artistic” rendition of a fish by revealing a PPT slide with my drawing on it like the one below.
After 90 seconds of drawing students are instructed to put their pencils down and tape their fish to the board.
I explain to them that the fish they drew represents it’s offspring and as they can see there are variations between them. I continue to explain that though the differences in our fish are quite exaggerated, in sexually reproducing organisms variations exist. I then mention that environmental pressures also exist.
I ask the students to share some thoughts about what type of environmental pressures exist.
After the students identify the types of environmental pressure I then take the role of environmental pressure and start ripping their “beautiful” fish drawings off of the board to indicate that they have died and are not able to reproduce.
In the end, 2 fish remain and the original female fish dies (old age or eaten by predator). At this stage, I ask the students to look at the two drawings and create an offspring fish drawing from the 2 parents. Students are given 90 seconds to complete their drawing. Again, they tape it to the board.
For round 2 of environmental pressure I include students as predators and also mention that some fish just die from freak accidents. This is done until only 2 fish remain. Sometimes I stop here and already have enough substantial structural differences in the fish to show how organisms change over time as a result of environmental pressure.
If more generations are needed and time permits the students will want to continue.
Students love this activity and you (teacher) will always have something to reference as you continue the discussion on how organisms change over time (evolve).
I start the class with this quick five question kahoot that touches on different pieces of evidence for evolution.