Conservation Education: Natural Selection
April 17 2015

On the 1st April, our team conducted a lesson on Natural Selection at the Mukamasaba School. The learning objectives of the session were:

-       To understand that variations exist within a species

-       To understand the effect variations have on survival

In order to best demonstrate this concept, we prepared a series of activities for the students to undertake; strong visuals also assisted us in our efforts.

The first activity of was based on a resource sheet that depicted three different zebras. The children looked at these intently and tried to decipher why something as strange as black and white stripes could aid in a zebra’s survival. We explained that the flashes of black and white confused predators, and that when running in a large herd, it made it very difficult for a predator to choose which animal to chase. Once the children had grasped this, they understood the difficulties that a zebra with no stripes may face.

Following on from this exercise, we underwent a Natural Selection activity. This involved analysing the behaviour of zebras from one generation to the next with the objective of determining where differences arose and what the consequence of these was in the context of Natural Selection. The class was able to see where characteristics aided the animals in their survival and how these became more widespread among the species as a result, whereas on the other end of the spectrum, less advantageous adaptations died out. It was a simple game that gave an understanding to a complex rationale.

The final activity was carried out in pairs. Each student had to write a description of his or her partner, and then we asked everyone to stand up as we read these out one-by-one. Students had to sit down when they felt that the descriptions being read out no longer related to them. The purpose of this exercise was for everyone to see if the descriptions were detailed enough to single out individual persons. This exercise illustrated that a single species, e.g. humans, has variations.

We ended the lesson with a summary of what had been covered and informed everyone that next week’s lesson would discuss the ‘Evolution of the Human Race.’ Stay tuned.  

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