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Selection and evolution with a deck of cards


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This classroom exercise introduces the concept of evolution by natural selection in a hypothesis-driven, experimental fashion, using a deck of cards.

Evolution: Education and Outreach

Grade level:

1-2 class periods

Teaching tips:
The standard exercise is suitable for upper-level high school (AP) and introductory biology students at the college level. This exercise can be easily modified to teach advanced evolutionary topics in upper-level courses in evolution and/or ecology and suggestions are given.

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

  • Rates of evolution vary.

  • Artificial selection provides a model for natural selection.

  • Evolution results from natural selection acting upon genetic variation within a population.

  • Natural selection may favor individuals with one extreme value for a trait, shifting the average value of that trait in one direction over the course of many generations.

  • A hallmark of science is exposing ideas to testing.

Teacher background:

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