A great way to demonstrate how different mechanisms of microevolution affect a gene pool is to use this M&Ms Evolution Lab. It allows students to actively learn about the concepts of microevolution in a memorable way (by eating them at the end of the activity).
There are many different effects that you can simulate with this activity, and it can be adapted to suit the class’ ability, time of the day (always a winner for last class on Friday!), and amount of time you have to spend on these concepts.
- A large disposable plate
- M&Ms (or other smooth candy such as Smarties or Skittles). Usually, a 1 pound packet will cover the entire class.
- Get students to work out the frequencies for each color of M&Ms in their gene pool and construct a table
- Swap a specific number of randomly selected M&Ms with another member of the class.
- Isolate a specific color of M&Ms into a separate gene pool.
- Introducing a new colored M&M into their population
- Eating several M&Ms with their eyes closed.
- Eating a specific colored M&M
After each task, get the students calculate the new frequencies within their gene pool and describe how each mechanism changes the gene pool.
- This activity can also be done with counters, colored beans or even laminated pictures.
- Try to distribute random handfuls of M&M’s so that students have a variety of color frequencies in their gene pool.
- For extension, students can also discuss how the size of the gene pool increases or decreases each of the mechanisms of microevolution.
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Mechanisms of Microevolution - PDFs
- 6-3 Assignment Student Edition - Modes of Natural Selection
- 6-3 Assignment Teacher Edition - Modes of Natural Selection ( Members Only )
- 6-3 Bell Work Student Edition - Modes of Natural Selection
- 6-3 Bell Work Teacher Edition - Modes of Natural Selection ( Members Only )
- 6-3 Exit Quiz Student Edition - Modes of Natural Selection
- 6-3 Exit Quiz Teacher Edition - Modes of Natural Selection ( Members Only )
- 6-3 Guided Notes Student Edition - Modes of Natural Selection
- 6-3 Guided Notes Teacher Edition - Modes of Natural Selection ( Members Only )
- 6-3 Lesson Plan - Modes of Natural Selection
- 6-3 Online Activities - Modes of Natural Selection ( Members Only )
- 6-3 Slide Show - Modes of Natural Selection (FREE)
Mechanisms of Microevolution Worksheet - Word Docs & PowerPoints
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