Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Of Mice and Moths

J.P. Hamilton
Orange County Schools

Description

Students show how genetic variation of offspring contributes to population control in an environment and that natural selection ensures that those who are best adapted to their surroundings survive to reproduce.

Objectives

The student applies oral communication skills to interviews, group presentations, formal presentations, and impromptu situations.

The student understands how genetic variation of offspring contributes to population control in an environment and that natural selection ensures that those who are best adapted to their surroundings survive to reproduce.

Creates potential solutions to industry problems using math and/or scientific concepts and communicates solution using industry appropriate language arts and graphic skills.

Materials

-One sheet of red paper at least 12 by 30 inches
-40 3/4- squares of red paper
-One sheet of yellow paper at least 12 by 30 inches
- 40 3/4- squares of yellow paper
-Forceps
-Various resource materials(Internet, science magazines, books).

-Student materials: -A Ten Year Study of the Population of Peppered Moths- (see attac)hed file

Preparations

Class discussion of genetics, evolution, and natural selection.

Procedures

TEACHER DEMONSTRATION
1. Tell the student that the large red sheet of paper represents the environment. Place the paper on the desk top.

2. Tell the students that each of the 3/4- red and yellow squares represents a mouse.

3. Place ten of the red "mice" and ten of the yellow "mice" on the red "environment."

4. Ask a student to represent a hungry coyote and to step up to the environment and "eat" five mice by picking up five squares with the forceps.

5. Show students that each of the remaining mice reproduces one of its own kind by adding one red square to the environment for each red square remaining. Add one yellow square for each yellow square remaining. (There should be more red mice than yellow mice thereby showing how the environmental background affects the selection.)

6. Repeat steps 4-5 with another student.

7. Pose the question, -What is happening?- (The red mice are hidden by the environment so more survive.)

8. Hold up the yellow sheet of paper and ask, -What will happen when the environment changes color?- ( The
yellow mice will become more prevalent.)

STUDENT ACTIVITY
1. Each student examines the table labeled "Number of Light and Dark Moths Captured" (see associated file).

2. The students research the development of the peppered moth in England by using their textbooks and other resource materials.

3. The students write a paragraph delineating the causes for the change in the number of light and dark moths captured.

4. Students present their findings and discuss their conclusions.

Assessments

Assessment of student presentations may be based on the following criteria.
a. Presentation explains the implications of natural selection.
b. Presentation demonstrates "survival of the fittest."
c. Presentation offers clear explanation for the decline within the pepper moth population.
d. Presentation connects research to class demonstration.
e. Presenter uses appropriate oral communication skills (eye contact, volume, gestures, demeanor)

The following questions may be used to assess student understanding:

1. Survival of the fittest implies:
a. the weak survive the battle to be strong
b. the strong survive and procreate
c. the weak procreate while the strong fight
d. weak and strong have equal opportunities in nature

(answer b. The strong survive to procreate.)

2. The rise and fall of certain species may be due to :
a. change in environment
b. competition
c. lack of genetic variation
d. all of these could cause a decrease in population

(answer d. All of these could cause a decrease in population.)

3. Natural selection of species suggests that:
a. those species who are best adapted to their surroundings survive to reproduce
b. those species who do not adapt procreate
c. those species who procreate always produce a new species
d. those species who adapt have no genetic variation

(answer a. Natural selection states that those species who are best adapted to their surroundings survive to reproduce.)

4. A white mouse is eaten more often than a blue mouse in the same ecosystem. What statement might explain this observation?
a. White mice are stronger and produce more offspring.
b. Blue mice taste better than white mice.
c. White mice are less adapted to their environment.
d. Blue mice are less adapted to their environment.

(answer c. White mice are less adapted to their environment)

Darwin's theories show clearly that the strongest of a species will survive to procreate; genetic variation ensures that those best adapted to their surroundings survive to reproduce.

Extensions

The students will:
-know that offspring have genetic variations and that sometimes these variations ensure beneficial adaptations to their surroundings.
-know that the process of natural selection promotes traits beneficial to survival.
-know that evolution is a continual process, and that traits that make a species strong survive (survival of the fittest)

Enhancement:
Discuss the evolution of any species over time, and plot changes which have lead to major developments in evolution.

Attached Files

The chart, "A Ten Year Study of the Population of Peppered Moths."     File Extension: pdf

Return to the Beacon Lesson Plan Library.