Evolution is change over time so we would begin class with a simple activity to demonstrate this. Each student was given a single sheet of white watercolor paper and a small amount of pigment each day. Although the procedures were the same for everybody, differences soon demonstrated evolutionary effects.
Since life came from the sea, our first step was to wet the paper under flowing water in the sink. Then each student was given a tablespoon of dry powered tempera paint and asked to evenly cover the paper. Great variety became evident almost immediately. [Note: This was the only day we spent more than ten minutes at the beginning of class until the last day.]
The second day we repeated the first with the same color pigment. Note: most of the first day tempera was rinsed off so for day three I switched to spray bottles. When I do this again, the first day is the only one I would use the faucet for the water to wet the paper.
For the third day half the class got the same color but half got our first mutation in the form of another colored pigment.
During subsequent days we introduced additional random mutations environmental shifts, sexual reproduction through personal choice (selecting mate), and evolutionary dead ends. Each student followed the exact same directions but their own painting had evolved into a totally different painting than anyone elses.
To demonstrate Natural Selection, we had the four different colored pigments: white (sky), brown (earth), green (forest), blue (water). Using the large rolls of poster paper, students placed their paintings on similar colored background. Then the class would pretend to be a predator and decide which painting was easiest to see – that painting was removed and considered DEAD for the final day of pigments. Natural selection doesn’t play favorites.
By the end of twelve days we had incredibly colorfully, thickly-textured paintings which we used in Evolution II. All this time we had been studying evolution, natural selection, and genetics.
repeat first color
first mutation for half class
everyone gets mutation
1 of 4 environments (green)
white represents day
black represents night
repeat original color
free choice/sexual reproduction