Happy Darwin Day! And what’s Darwin Day without a bit of fun involving his most influential of ideas: natural selection. There are a lot of activities out there that deal with the predator/prey relationship as regards natural selection. You could setup an activity with colored worms or
pieces of paper.
My personal fav is Lynn Marie Wartski’s Natural Selection With "Teddy Grahams".
For this you will need to buy a bag of Teddy Grahams and to convince your S.O. that it’s alright for junior to eat a bunch of cookies before meal time. Your child takes on the roll of a bear-eating monster. This particular monster prefers to eat happy bears(arms up)
rather than their bitter tasting cousins, the sad bears(arms down). Yes it sounds oh so very emo, but bear with me(and pray I stop the puns there). You setup a hand full of bears on a plate and note how many of each type there are. Then the rounds begin. Each round the monster strikes, laying low three unfortunate happy bears. Count up pairs of each type of bear that is left. Then the bears "hibernate" and you get to add a handful of new bears to serve as the next generation. Repeat for four rounds, then check your results.
SPOILER ALERT: You should end up with more of the sad bears at the end. The site suggests recording your data and setting up graphs, but I honestly don’t think it’s strictly necessary. Even doing a shortened version of this activity will serve as a good starting point in teaching your children about how natural selection and specie variation works. If nothing else you can move onto teaching your youngin’s about extinctions involving sad-bear-eating monsters.
Have any suggestions for tweaks to this experiment? Perhaps another that you happen to like? Let us know!