8. Bird Beak Buffet

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Inspired by observations of finches on the Galapagos Islands, Charles Darwin came up with an idea that is perhaps the most influential idea in all of science - natural selection. In this classic activity, students learn about natural selection by becoming birds foraging for food on an island (a large area of the schoolyard or classroom). The prey (beans) vary in their coloration such that some blend into the environment better than others. The birds vary in the type of beak they have (plastic forks, spoons and knives). Each season, any prey that survives has a baby bean the same color as the parent. In addition, the most successful birds has a baby with the same beak trait while the least successful birds die (and are reincarnated as the babies of the successful birds). Over several generations, the bird and bean populations shift depending on the environment. Well camouflaged beans survive and reproduce. Birds with beaks that can easily capture beans survive and reproduce. In this way, students model natural selection in 2 species and get a very good idea of how natural selection works.

Can explain what natural selection is and the conditions necessary for it to occur.
Can discuss changes in a population in the context of natural selection.
Can use terms such as natural selection, evolution, and adaptation scientifically.
Can organize data in a table and graph.
Can graph changes in a population over time.

Natural selection
Charles Darwin

Attachment Size
8bird_beak.doc 69 KB
bird_beak_student.doc 60 KB
bird_beak_data.doc 67.5 KB