Insect Survival

Other Biology lessons: Edible Cell, Evolution and Homeostasis Jeopardy, Evolution and Homeostasis Bingo, and Energy and Reproduction Jeopardy

  • Subject Area: Biology
  • Age or Grade: Sophomores
  • Estimated Length: 80 minutes
  • Prerequisite knowledge/skills: Students have learned about evolution.
  • Description of New Content: Introduce Darwin and natural selection.
  • Goals: Students will learn about adaptations and Darwin's theory of natural selection.
  • Materials Needed:
    • plastic bag filled with: black home, peppered home, 20 black moths, 20 peppered moths (use black construction paper and black and white newspaper print, mini butterfly hole puncher)
    • worksheet
    • highlighter
    • timer
    • overhead
  • Procedure:
    • Opener:
      1. Review evolution. Tell students we're going to observe evolution in class today.
    • Development:
      1. Pass out worksheet on insect survival.
      2. Have a student read aloud the introduction to the activity.
      3. Explain the procedure using a bag of supplies to illustrate.
      4. Pass out a bag to each group of 2 students.
      5. Instruct eaters to stand up and wait for you to say "eat!" and time them for 20 seconds.
      6. Have non-eaters count how many moths of each color were eaten.
      7. The partners should switch places and homes and repeat.
      8. Explain to students all the eaters exist in one habitat and scientists want to determine how many total moths were eaten in the habitat. Write each groups' answers on the overhead to get a total. Note: you may need to repeat since the first eaters have difficulty picking up the moths at first.
      9. Have students complete the questions either alone, as a group, or as a class.
    • Closure:
      1. Explain this experiment happened in real life using the story at the end of the worksheet.
      2. Introduce Darwin and his theory of natural selection.
  • Evaluation: The last question on the worksheet is a critical thinking question. See if students can figure out that moths, through natural selection, can change their color to match their home in order to survive.
  • Extensions: Have students pick an organism and ask them what is important for that organism to survive. (e.g. cheetahs need to be fast to catch their prey). Ask students series of questions related to natural selection (if their prey was slow, would the fast trait be selected? what conditions would lead to selection of a trait? etc).