This page contains peer-reviewed model lessons, including in-class, homework and lab exercises, that instructors may download and modify for their own classes under a Creative Commons (Attribution, Non-commercial, Share-Alike) license.
For each model exercise, we also have instructor support materials with background information about the lesson, exercise variations and answer keys that are available for registered instructors. We have included a few examples of the instructor support materials (though with the answer key redacted). To find out how instructors can receive these supplemental materials for the other exercises, please contact <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
• Understanding the Introduction of Genetic Variations by Random Mutation
Robert T. Pennock & Amy Lark
This lesson focuses on mutations as a source of genetic variability and what it means to say that mutations occur randomly at some rate. Students will make predictions about and observe the effects of random mutations on the genomes of Avidians
• From Genotype to Phenotype: Understanding the Introduction of Phenotypic Variations
Robert T. Pennock
Phenotype refers to observable traits of individuals that arise from the causal interaction of their genotype with the environment. In this exercise, students will investigate some simple relationships between genotype and phenotype and observe how changes in the genomes of Avidians lead to changes in their functional traits.
• Exploring the Effects of Mutation Rate on Individuals
This exercise is based on a 2012 study that examined butterflies in the vicinity of the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant that were exposed to leaked radiation. Students test the study’s conclusion that increased mutation rate likely caused the adverse biological effects. An article on this model lesson was published in American Biology Teacher.
• Exploring the Effects of Mutation Rate on Populations
James Smith & Amy Lark
Two important characteristics that we can use to describe a population are the average fitness1 of the individuals that make up that population and the population size. In this exercise you will determine whether these characteristics are affected by mutation rate and, if so, in what ways.
• Artificial Selection: Evolution in Practice
Rett Weber, Wendy Johnson & Amy Lark
Students are presented with a hypothetical scenario in which they use the mechanism of artificial selection to evolve an organism with a particular trait.
• Exploring Selection and Fitness
Amy Lark & Robert T. Pennock
In this exercise students will perform a series of experiments in order to determine the relationships between variation, selection, and fitness. Drawing from patterns in data they collect, students will then develop a hypothesis regarding how bacteria evolve resistance to antibiotics.
– Student handout
• Experimental Evolution Project with Evolving Digital Organisms
Robert T. Pennock & Amy Lark
This is an assignment for an open-ended major project. Students will propose an evolutionary hypothesis that can be tested with Avida-ED, design and conduct an experiment, analyze their data, and write up a research report.
• MORE COMING SOON