Thursday, December 19, 2013

Origami Frog Natural Selection

Just a neat activity to share:

We are working on genetics, and just took that the next step to see how genetics would change as the process of natural selection was happening to a population.

To do this, students made origami frogs as seen in this video:

The frogs have 4 different "genes" that can be varied:
  • The size of the starting paper (3 or 5 inches square)
  • The number of folds that make the jumping mechanism (2 or 3)
  • The color of the paper (either reddish or greenish which the students colored)
  • The stiffness of the paper (regular paper or index card)
All groups started with the same frog genotype.  They used the genotype to figure out the phenotype of the first frog.  Then, that frog "mated" with another random frog.  This happened by the genes of the original frog being mixed with some random genes.  They used these genes to create 4 "frogletts."  Each of the frogletts were then lined up and students made them jump.  The one that jumped the furthest was allowed to breed, the others were gone from the gene pool.  Then, the "successful" frog's genes were mixed with other successful frog genes to make another generation.  We continued this process for several generations.

The results are pretty neat so far.  There is a very clear type of frog that is most common, but the other types of frogs continue to pop up in the gene pool.  Neat to see some genetic diversity from a simple set of genes and some clear microevolution as well.

The following link should take you to a site where you can download the actual activity, if you are interested.  Origami Frogs

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