Zoology Activities

Investigating Common Descent

Participants will learn about evolution and the theory of common descent. Students will consider a morphological tree and “synthesized” DNA (paper clip chains) from apes, humans and a common ancestor to hypothesize and investigate the evolutionary relationship between the species. 

Source: Teaching About Evolution and the Nature of Science provided by the National Academy of Sciences. See full activity here

Investigating Natural Selection

Using printed fabric to simulate an ecological environment, students will “prey” upon colored dots for a limited time. The colored dots that remain will “reproduce” and the activity will be repeated. After this simulation, participants could graph the numbers of each color that remain at each time point and discuss natural selection and the role camouflage plays in predator/prey relations. 

Source: Teaching About Evolution and the Nature of Science provided by the National Academy of Sciences. See full activity here.

Scoping Science: How do animals look for food? 

After a discussion of the time and energy versus nutritional reward for hunting different kinds of prey, children will use "Where's Waldo?" search books and a stopwatch to compare the difference between being a hunting specialist (only looking for Waldo) versus being a generalist (searching for any yellow "prey"). They may investigate the difference between hunting in familiar versus unfamiliar pages.

See full activity here: Scientific American: Bring Science Home.

Sonorous Science: Have a Cricket Tell You the Temperature

Crickets chirp at different rates according to the temperature. In a festival setting, it would be most prudent to have recordings of crickets chirping at different temperatures. Using a simple formula, children can establish an estimate of the temperature when the recordings were made.

See full activity here: Scientific American: Bring Science Home.