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Lesson summary for:
Exploring Variation and Heritability


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Students explore the natural variations present in a variety of organisms by examining sunflower seeds and Wisconsin Fast Plants™ to consider the role of heredity in natural selection.


Grade level:

Two to three class periods.

Teaching tips:
Ten days prior to the activity you will need to plant several pots of Wisconsin Fast Plants ™ so that they have true leaves by the time of the activity. Students use graphs and statistical tools.

Correspondence to the Next Generation Science Standards is indicated in parentheses after each relevant concept. See our conceptual framework for details.

  • Evolution results from selection acting upon genetic variation within a population. (LS4.B)

  • Traits that confer an advantage may persist in the population and are called adaptations. (LS4.B, LS4.C)

  • Inherited characteristics affect the likelihood of an organism's survival and reproduction. (LS4.B, LS4.C)

  • Over time, the proportion of individuals with advantageous characteristics may increase (and the proportion with disadvantageous characteristics may decrease) due to their likelihood of surviving and reproducing. (LS4.B, LS4.C)

Teacher background:

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