SAVY 2019: Session 5, Day 3 – Dabbling with DNA (Rising 3rd/4th)
It was another high-energy day in Dabbling with DNA. We tackled the topic of evolution by first revisiting the crazy creatures from the previous day. We discussed the various traits that the creatures have (antenna length, ear size, body color, etc…) and brainstormed on how each form of the trait could be adaptive. Next up was a video that covered the early work of Charles Darwin and Alfred Russell Wallace that led to them independently developing a theory of evolution via natural selection. It’s a docudrama produced by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and it held their attention. This led us into the simulation of natural selection that involves forks, spoons, and three types of legumes. The fork and spoon represented two forms (phenotypes) of a predator species and the legumes (lentil, kidney bean, garbanzo bean) represented three phenotypes of a prey species. The students hunted with either the fork or spoon and the goal was to consume as many beans as possible in one minute. We discussed the pros and cons of the different phenotypes and the hunting strategies that worked best.
In the afternoon, we finished the natural selection lab and moved on to artificial selection. This involved a dog breeding activity in which they are given the assignment of creating a new breed from six fictional breeds. They decide which forms of various traits (speed, strength, endurance, disposition, etc…) will meet the requirements of the breed and must select two of the six breeds for crossing. They created three puppies by randomly selecting whether they inherited mom or dad dog’s form of the trait and saw that all the pups are different. The day ended with them drawing their selected puppy and watching a brief video about artificial selection. Tomorrow we will cover biotechnology with a focus on DNA profiling and we’ll start the GMO project. We can’t wait to show you everything we’ve learned during open house on Friday. Be on the lookout for more details in the parent email.