Teachers can use Who Wants to Live a Million Years? as an introduction to the concept of natural selection and to Charles Darwin's life and career. Its engaging interface will keep students' interest while they practice pertinent concepts, which can lead to deeper lessons on evolution, genetics, and other biology topics. Teachers will want to follow up with a clarification of what students experience to let the core concepts of natural selection sink in.Continue reading Show less
Who Wants to Live a Million Years? is a hands-on introduction to the concept of natural selection that allows students to make choices to guide the process. Cute not-seen-in-the-real-world creatures with specific features -- such as long or short legs, long or short necks, fur or no fur, and stripes or no stripes -- make up the potential gene pool. Guided by naturalist Charles Darwin, students choose three creatures with which to begin the natural selection process, in the hope their population will have enough variation to withstand climate change and predators for a million years, establishing a viable lineage over time. During the game, environmental and other disasters occur that guide the evolution of the population and decrease their number. At two points in the game, students can, if they wish, introduce a mutation into the population that will help guide their creatures' evolution during crisis. The game also includes information on Darwin's life, a quiz, and a glossary of useful terms.
A million years pass very quickly in this game, which lasts only a few minutes. Time stops just a few times for students to make decisions about introducing mutations into the gene pool. While the results of those decisions are shown on-screen, little to no explanation or feedback is given on how to improve results for the next time. The hints screen offers a small amount of help, giving pros and cons for each body feature, but there's little context for the information or explanation as to why certain parts of the population didn't survive. Still, students will likely want to play the game several times to experiment with different variation combinations and see if their population will survive to the million-year mark.
Key Standards Supported
Biological Evolution: Unity and Diversity
Use evidence to construct an explanation for how the variations in characteristics among individuals of the same species may provide advantages in surviving, finding mates, and reproducing.
Construct an argument with evidence that in a particular habitat some organisms can survive well, some survive less well, and some cannot survive at all.
Construct an explanation based on evidence for how natural selection leads to adaptation of populations.
Construct an explanation based on evidence that describes how genetic variations of traits in a population increase some individuals’ probability of surviving and reproducing in a specific environment.