Severance Middle School

7th graders from Severance Middle School observe guppy mating behavior.

7th graders from Severance Middle School observe guppy mating behavior

Dr. Cameron Ghalambor describes predator-prey interaction while students wait for a cichlid to devour a guppy

Dr. Cameron Ghalambor describes predator-prey dynamics while students watch a cichlid predator interacting with guppies

With the help of Dr. Cameron Ghalambor and teachers Sarah Warren and Stephanie  Simmons, I developed a program to introduce evolution to Severance Middle School 7th-graders.

I used an approach similar to that used for the 4th-grade projects, but the student experiment was designed to illustrate two types of selection that guppies experience in the wild. Colorful males performing displays have increased mating success (sexual selection)  but are preferentially eaten by predators, thus decreasing survival (natural selection). Using three populations that have experienced variable predation pressure, the students conducted mating experiments adapted from my research. Students made predictions about male and female mating behavior based on their environment of origin (predation regime). They also observed anti-predator behavior and predator preference in predator trials. Thus, the students were physically engaged through hands-on activities and mentally engaged while independently discovering evidence of selection driving phenotypic changes in guppy populations.

We have now implemented the program in 2012 and 2013 and worked with 300 students. Teachers Kaitlin Dunn and Sharma Glitzki were instrumental in 2013. *Pictures 2012*Pictures 2013*

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