The Discovery of Jelly bellicus by: Deborah Tieman and Gary Haxer

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Finding an engaging way to teach students the basic principles of natural selection and how evolution is significant to their lives can be a difficult task. As a result, the authors implemented an activity published by Michigan State University (Smitley 1996) that used students and jelly beans to simulate the selection forces placed on populations by predators. To adapt this activity to the high school classroom, a fictional narrative and characters were created to demonstrate the effects of cryptic coloration and mimicry. Students play the role of competitive predators by collecting jelly beans in an effort to “survive.” As students progress through the activity, they learn that some jelly beans thrive while others become endangered or extinct. The activity’s defining moment comes when students are asked to evaluate how the results would be different if the environment changed, and they realize that diversity is the key to species survival. A follow-up exercise allows students to evaluate the jelly bean population using the Hardy Weinberg principle.

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  • on Wed May 16, 2012 9:55 AM

This is a charming article where jelly beans are used to teach natural selection. A crew is ship wrecked on an island and only have a strange creature to eat (looking sort of like jelly beans). The scenario goes through several steps to illustrate natural selection concepts.

Betty Paulsell  (Kansas City, MO)
Betty Paulsell (Kansas City, MO)

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