paper plate with dots on a colorful background

Spot the Dot

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Introduction

Why do certain animals do so much better in a particular environment than others? How do these organisms beat the other one out? Let’s find out! In this activity you will test out different colors of animals and see which ones are the most successful in their environment. Then you will change up the environment and see any changes. With careful observation, you will actually see natural selection happening in front of you.

Materials Listpapers, plates, tweezers

  • Hard surface/cardboard/poster board (20” by 28”)
  • Two colorful cloth/blanket (20” by 28”)
  • Construction paper (different colors – rainbow pack is best!)
  • Hole punch/scissors
  • Tweezers
  • Two paper plates
  • Bell observation sheet (or you can just use a piece of paper)

Procedure

*It is best to have a partner for this activity, but it can be done by yourself if needed*

  1. First you will need to create your ecosystem. You will need some type of colorful cloth/blanket. The best is to find something that has intricate patterns, like flowers or stars, or even circles.
  2. Place your cloth/blanket on top of the hard surface. If you can pin/tape/staple it down, that is recommended but it is optional.
  3. Now cut out some of your organisms. Use the construction papers to make small circles all the same size. Best way to do this is to use a hole punch, but if you do not have one you can use a scissors (it will take a lot more time).
  4. You will want to cut out at least a hundred circles for each color and use at least 5 different colors. If you want to use more colors or more circles, feel free to do so.
  5. After you have your ecosystems ready and all of your organisms cut out, it is time to start the game.
  6. Have your partner or yourself place 100 pieces/organisms in the ecosystem. Make sure you that there is an equal number of each color on the board.
    1. For example: If you have 5 different colors, there will be 20 pieces of each color on your board.
    2. If you are not placing the organisms, make sure not to look! You will be the first predator.
  7. Have your partner or yourself place 100 pieces/organisms in the ecosystem. Make sure you that there is an equal number of each color on the board.
  8. Now whoever did not place the pieces, will be the predator. One at a time you will use a tweezer to grab a circle from the ecosystem and place it on a paper plate. YOU MUST TURN AROUND EVERYTIME YOU GRAB YOUR PREY.
  9. Keep track of how many you have grabbed, once you have grabbed 50 pieces stop.
  10. Remove the rest of the prey on the ecosystem and place on a different paper plate. Make sure there are 50 pieces on the paper plate.
  11. Count to see how many of each color are still alive. Record it either on the Bell observation sheet or on a plain piece of paper.
  12. After counting your colors, double the surviving pieces and place them back in the environment. THERE SHOULD STILL BE 100 pieces of paper in the environment.
  13. Repeat this process two more times.
  14. Now switch environments. Do the same steps just with a different environment. See what happens now.
  15. Try to answer these questions:
    1. What happened to the colors in your first environment? Why?
    2. What happened to the colors when your environment changed? Why?
    3. What do you think would happen if you had less colors in their first environment? Why?
    4. What about when the environment changed? 
    5. What do you think would have happened if you had more colors in the first environment? Why?
    6. What about when the environment changed?

Think of ways you can change up this experiment. Maybe do different shapes of organisms rather than colors? Maybe more predators? More colors? Less colors? See what happens!