Natural Selection Simulator

natural-selection*Updated 4/15/2018

This simulator at PhET allows students to change the environment from arctic to equator and choose the selection factors that will affect the population and drive evolution.  The bunnies will either be limited by food availability or by predation.  The phenotypes of the bunnies will change over time depending on the parameters that have been set in the simulation.

This worksheet gives students instruction on how to use the simulator, record data about the bunnies and answer analysis questions.   The assignment is loosely inquiry-based where students are asked two essential questions about whether a trait (long teeth or hair color) provide an advantage to the individual.

The final synthesis question aligns exactly to the NGSS standard on constructing an explanation on the process of evolution, students fill out a chart that indicates how the bunny simulation showed each of those factors.

evolution chart

The simulator must be downloaded to the computer (or school network), it is a simple javascript program and will work on chromebooks.

There is also a simpler version of this lab for introductory biology students.

Grade Level:  8-12  | Time Required:  40-50 min

Download PDF Google Doc

NGSS:  HS- LS4-2  | Construct an explanation based on evidence that the process of evolution primarily results from four factors: (1) the potential for a species to increase in number, (2) the heritable genetic variation of individuals in a species due to mutation and sexual reproduction, (3) competition for limited resources, and (4) the proliferation of those organisms that are better able to survive and reproduce in the environment


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