Lesson Plan

Natural Selection

Explain the concept of Natural Selection as described by Charles Darwin and how it affects animal populations.
Vincent C.
Classroom teacher
La Sierra University
Riverside, CA
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My Grades 9, 10, 11, 12
My Subjects Science
  • The students will be able to understand the interaction of an organism’s traits and its environment
  • The students will be able to explain how certain traits affect natural selection
  • The students will be able to explain how traits seen in a population change over time
  • The students will be able to create their own scenario of natural selection by applying the concepts learned
Grades 9 - 12
All Notes
Teacher Notes
Student Notes

1 Introduction

Activity: Other — Playing a game of Wolves, Deer, and Plants

First I’m going to explain the game to them. Once playing a couple of rounds will ask questions that deal with the lesson we are about to learn such as:

  • What would cause some of the wolves/deer die?
  • What were some “traits” that you saw that affected deer not getting caught?
  • Did the deer who did not have these traits last long? Why or why not?

Write the answers on the board to use them later to introduce lesson using their words. Also record the change in populations for each round to analyze later

Student Instructions

The game involves the students splitting into 3 groups: the wolves, the deer, and the plants. They line up horizontally a certain distance away from each other with the wolves in the middle. When signaled, the deers must run past the wolves to get to the plants. If the deer get to a plant, that plant in the next round becomes a deer, if the deer gets caught in the next round it becomes a wolf, and if the wolf does not get any deer it becomes a plant the next round. Similarly if a deer does not get a plant then it dies and becomes a plant the next round as well.

After the students will discuss the questions asked.

2 Explore

I will have them download it on their computers if they have access to computers. If not I will put it on a projector from my computer. I will give them a brief tutorial of how to use it and then have them answer a variety of questions dealing with if they change any of the variables how does the population change and why. For example:

  • If food is added as a variable what happens to the rabbit population?
  • What happens to the rabbit population when wolves are added?
  • If you have a white and brown rabbit population and a wolf predator what traits will be seen in rabbits during summer? During winter?
Student Instructions

Two Scenarios:

If enough laptops for everyone:

Have them do this in groups and then discuss the questions with one another

If no laptops:

Still have them in groups but have them decide which variable they want to change and how they think it would change the situation. Then have them change that variable on the computer and show the class

3 Explain

Activity: Presenting

I will explain first explain a brief overview of Charles Darwin and how he came up with the theory of Natural Selection. Then by using the activities they have already done and visuals on the powerpoint I will explain Natural selection and how with over time will cause adaptations in a population. I will discuss specific real life examples such as rabbits with winter coats to describe Natural Selection. I will pause at certain times to have students answer open ended questions that have to deal with what I just talked about

Student Instructions

As I am describing Natural selection, they can work together to answer open-ended questions.

4 Elaborate

Credit to Kristen Downey on Common Sense:

I will have the students make a story for one of the animals on Storyboard. They will need to write it from the animal’s point of view and how their animal had a specific trait that helped it survive whatever limitation and then reproduce more than their competitors. It may be as fantastical as they want but they must specifically incorporate ideas of natural selection and it led to adaptation in the general population of their species. Show an example story for the students to go off of.

Student Instructions

Students will go on Storybird and choose at two main pictures to base their story off. They will choose one animal that they will portray and they will choose a picture that will be the trait that their animal has (may be as fantastical as they want) and a picture of that shows why their trait helps the animal reproduce more than their competitors.

5 Evaluate

Activity: Presenting

I will ask them questions such as:

  1. How was your animal different from the rest of your species?
  2. What was the natural selection factor?
  3. How did your trait give you an advantage compared to the rest?
  4. What was the outcome of your greater chance of survival?
  5. What would happen to your animal if there was a certain variable that would target your trait? (Ex. Introduction of a predator that targets your specific trait)

 Have the students answer the questions on paper and turn it in. Have students share their story and then have them ask the questions to the class. Offer to read students story if too shy or unable to read in front of class.

Student Instructions

Students will answer the questions on a piece of paper and then turn it in later. They will take an instructor role and ask the questions to the class. Afterwards they will explain if there was any misconceptions