Natural Selection in Guppies

The Guppy Game
Article: “The Guppy Game” by Margaret Blattner, Barbara Hug, Patrick Watson, and Donna Korel,
The Science Teacher, NSTA, Summer 2012, pp. 32-37.

The Guppy Game allows students to learn science content (in this case, natural and sexual selection) in an interactive, student-driven manner. The concept of fitness builds in this open-ended inquiry. It has been used effectively in AP Biology, and would certainly work in regular Biology and even middle school Life Science. Materials and instructions can also be found on the Neuron website. Scroll down to Lesson 5:

Lesson 5: Why do guppies have favorite colors? Why do they care? Natural and sexual selection of color preferences are the focus of Lesson 5. Students play a game that uses principles of selection to explain why guppies are attracted to certain colors. Students analyze different sensory and coloration biases that help fish to survive such as being able to find different colors of food or being camouflaged to avoid lurking predators. Students also explore how these biases can influence sexual competition; for example, brightly colored fish or those that have body coloration similar to preferred foods might be more attractive to mates. By playing the "guppy game", students observe adaptation to different environments and the evolution of sex differences and make hypotheses about the habitats that will favor certain traits. By simulating different populations of guppies under different circumstances students can observe genetic drift in populations over time. One key element of Lesson 5 is the generation of whole classroom data sets that will be analyzed as a class and individually, exposing students to various approaches for data interpretation and expression.

By the way, if you do this lesson, I recommend setting up a guppy aquarium in your classroom with different varieties and colors of guppies. It might just motivate a few students to take on some guppy behavioral studies. Also, scout around other items in this set with the “Guppy Unit: Do You See What I See?” which includes some online interactives. Most of the other areas on this site are still under development (see below), but look fascinating and most engaging. Check back often to see if they’re available yet.

Planarian Unit: What can I learn from worms?
Circadian Rhythm Unit: What makes me tick…tock?
Traumatic Brain Injury Unit: Why dread a bump on the head?