Activity Introduction

Quick summary: Evolution is the change of a gene pool over time. Some traits will be better suited to the environment, and these will help the organism survive and reproduce, enabling the trait to potentially be passed on to the next generation.

In this lesson, students will learn about the different forms of evolution that can occur in a population. They will then play a fun card game to simulate natural selection (a form of evolution), and use the game to describe how selection pressures change the traits in a population over time.

These lessons were made possible with thanks to Joshua Yeldham.

Cool Australia also wishes to recognise Ian Hutton. Ian is a trained biologist, amongst many other skills, and has been living on Lord Howe Island since 1980. He is the author of 11 books on Lord Howe Island, including the most recent 264 page beautiful coffee table book on the World Heritage values of Lord Howe Island, contributed to some 60 papers and articles working with scientists across numerous fields, run a number of conservation and research project, and has been employed as a location guide for film documentary projects. If you are visiting Lord Howe Island, get in touch with Ian for a private guided tour, as he is keen to share his passion for the island and its environment.

Learning intentions:

  • Students will understand how natural selection changes the frequency of traits in a population
  • Students will understand how selection pressures affect individuals in a population.

21st century skills: 

CommunicatingCritical ThinkingProblem SolvingSocial Skills

Australian Curriculum Mapping

Content descriptions: 

Year 10 Science:

  • The theory of evolution by natural selection explains the diversity of living things and is supported by a range of scientific evidence (ACSSU185)

Syllabus outcomes: SC5-14LW

General capabilities: Critical and Creative Thinking, Personal and Social Capability

Cross-curriculum priority: Sustainability

Relevant parts of Year 10 Science achievement standards: Students evaluate the evidence for scientific theories that explain the origin of the universe and the diversity of life on Earth. They explain the processes that underpin heredity and evolution.

Topic: Biodiversity.

This lesson is part of the wider unit of work Lord Howe Island – Years 8 & 10.

Time required: 55+ mins.

Level of teacher scaffolding: Medium – facilitate class discussion, explain and supervise game playing.

Resources required:

  • Device capable of presenting a video to the class
  • Instruction Sheet and game cards – printing one copy of this document per group of 3-4 students will provide enough cards for the game. You do not need to print some pages multiple times. Just one copy of the whole document.
  • Student workbooks.

Keywords: Evolution, speciation, adaptation, natural selection, game, introduced species, Lord Howe Island, habitats, environmentalism, conservatorship

Cool Australia’s curriculum team continually reviews and refines our resources to be in line with changes to the Australian Curriculum.


Teacher Worksheet

Teacher Preparation

Learning intentions: Students will...

  • ... understand how natural selection changes the frequency of traits in a population
  • ... understand how selection pressures affect individuals in a population.

Success criteria: Students can…

  • ... identify five main causes of evolution
  • ... simulate the processes of natural selection.

Teacher content information:
Lord Howe Island is approximately 600km east of Port Macquarie in NSW. It is a World Heritage site with high biodiversity, including seabird nesting sites, flightless birds such as the Lord Howe Woodhen, and the world’s rarest insect, the Lord Howe Island Phasmid. Approximately 75% of Lord Howe Island’s original natural vegetation remains intact and undisturbed. Likewise, its beaches, coral reef and marine environment are pristine. These conditions make Lord Howe Island an excellent place to observe evolution, in particular: natural selection, speciation, and the impact of introduced species on nativ

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