Adapt or Die – SCOPES Digital Fabrication

Lesson Details

Subjects
Grade Levels
Author

You need to login or register to bookmark/favorite this content.

Author

Danny Smith

Summary

Students will simulate the evolution of a fictional bird species, the Bartulina, as it adapts from a rather sedentary land based bird to a far-soaring fierce hunter of aquatic life. As students watch evolution happen before their very eyes, they will learn how genetic mutations can help a species adapt….or die.

What You'll Need

  • Cardboard
  • 2 feet of elastic cord (or daisy-chained elastic bands)
  • Laser Cutter (or X-acto knife and printed paper templates)

 

The Instructions

Setting up the Environment

You will start by setting up the birds' environment.

  1. On the end of a table, stretch an elastic cord between two fixed points. Clamps work well to hold the elastic, or the ends could be tied around two chairs, etc.
  2. Mark a fixed point on the table that the elastic will be stretched back to in order to launch the birds. 24 inches is a good starting point, though depending on your elastic you may adjust this forward or back.
  3. On the floor, mark off distance lines at 1 foot spacing. These lines can be marked with either tape or sticky notes on the floor. This will mark how far the birds “fly”

 

Making the First Generation of Birds

Bartulina birds can vary in their body length, wing length, and tail length. The first generation of birds will have randomly assigned attributes. See the attached Inkscape Template for the design of the bird wings, body, and tail.

  1. Start by making 10 bodies, 10 wings, and 10 tales of different sizes.
  2. Body length should be randomly assigned between 5 and 12 inches
  3. Wing length should be randomly assigned between 5 and 10 inches
  4. Tail length should be randomly assigned between 1 and 3 inches
  5. Randomly pair bodies, wings, and tales to create 10 birds
  6. Put each part in its own bowl and draw at random to create 10 birds, with 1 body, 1 wing, and 1 tale each.
  7. Label each bird with a sharpie marker for tracking purposes
  8. Label birds 1.01, 1.02, 1.03 all the way through 1.10
  9. The naming scheme for the birds will be as follows: The first number will indicate the generation number of that bird. The second number will be the bird identification number (1-10) of the Gen 1. For each additional generation, numbers will be added to the end of the number string to indicate which offspring the bird is.
  10. Example: Lets look at Bartulina 4.05.1.2.1
  11. Sibiling 4.05.1.2.2
  12. Parent: 3.05.1.2
  13. Grandparent: 2.05.1
  14. Great Grandparent: 1.05
  15. Record the birds traits in the data table included with this lesson plan

 

Simulating Gen 1: Survive or Die

Time for the First Generation of Bartulina to go out in search for food. The ones who are able to fly the farthest are most likely to get access to the dwindling food supply. The ones who cannot fly as far, unfortunately, will not get enough food to survive and mate.

  1. Launch each bird from generation 1 using the elastic band pulled back a set distance. It is important to pull each bird back the exact same distance and release in the exact same manner.
  2. Repeat for each bird, leaving them in the location they land.
  3. Record the distance flown for each bird in the data table.
  4. After all birds have been launched, collect the 5 birds who went furthest. These birds will survive and create offspring in generation 2.
  5. The remaining 5 birds who flew furthest will not have offspring in generation 2.

 

Reproduction

The surviving birds will have offspring with similar traits (wing length, body length, and tail length). As genes are passed down, there are sometimes small mutations. A dice roll will simulate this process in our bird population

  1. Each surviving bird will create two offspring for the next generation.
  2. For the first bird from Generation 1, we will determine the traits of its offspring, taking into account slight mutations.
  3. For each offspring, start by assigning the traits of the parent.
  4. Now add in the effects of mutations. For each trait, roll a 6-sided die.
  5. Roll 1 or 2, decrease the numerical value of the trait by 1 inch.
  6. Roll 3 or 4, keep the trait the same as the parent, with no mutation
  7. Roll 5 or 6, increase the numerical value of the trait by 1 inch.
  8. Now, each of the two offspring in generation 2 is similar, though likley slightly different than their parent in generation one.
  9. Repeat this for each bird. At the end of this process, there will be 10 birds in generation two.
  10. Create the physical models of these birds by updating the Inkscape template with the appropriate values and cutting the birds out, with a laser cutter or by hand.
  11. Label each of these birds using the following convention (Generation 3).(Parents Bird #).(Offspring #).
  12. For example, the offspring of 1.5 would be 1.5.1 and 1.5.2 and the offspring of 1.8 would be 1.8.1 and 1.8.2
  13. Record these birds and their traits in the table.

 

Simulating Gen 2: Survive or Die

As before, Gen 2 birds will go out looking for food. This time, they have stronger competition, as the other birds in this generation are the offspring of strong parents.

  1. Launch each bird from generation 2 using the elastic band pulled back a set distance. It is important to pull each bird back the exact same distance and release in the exact same manner.
  2. Repeat for each bird, leaving them in the location they land.
  3. After all birds have been launched, collect the 5 birds who went furthest. These birds will survive and create offspring in generation 3.
  4. The remaining 5 birds who flew furthest will not have offspring in generation 3.

 

Repeat this process for several generations

Continue this process of launching, collecting the survivors, passing traits with mutations, and creating the next bird generation. With each new generation, make observations as to how the average distance flown changes.

Standards

  • (HS-LS4-2): Construct an explanation based on evidence that the process of evolution primarily results from four factors: (1) the potential for a species to increase in number, (2) the heritable genetic variation of individuals in a species due to mutation and sexual reproduction, (3) competition for limited resources, and (4) the proliferation of those organisms that are better able to survive and reproduce in the environment.
  • (HS-LS4-4): Construct an explanation based on evidence for how natural selection leads to adaptation of populations.
  • (HS-LS4-5): Evaluate the evidence supporting claims that changes in environmental conditions may result in: (1) increases in the number of individuals of some species, (2) the emergence of new species over time, and (3) the extinction of other species.
  • (HS-LS4-6): Create or revise a simulation to test a solution to mitigate adverse impacts of human activity on biodiversity.

Lesson Feedback