The Evolution of Zoe the Protozoa

Grades 5-7, 45-75min

In The Evolution of Zoe the Protozoa, students take on the role of Zoe in the struggle to find food and adapt in an ever-changing changing environment. Starting as a lowly protozoa, Zoe and her species experience mutations, some of which are beneficial and some of which are quickly phased out over tens of thousands of years. Eventually, the simulation jumps forward in time and replaces Zoe with Berta, a simple bird facing similar challenges in her environment.

Topics addressed:

  • Adaptations, mutations and evolution
  • Changing environments and interactions with other species
  • Primary CT concept: abstraction. The simulation greatly simplifies many of the more complicated concepts associated with natural selection and adaptations so students can focus on simple mutations and their effects on finding food and surviving.

Students will be able to:

  • Play a natural selection simulation as both a protozoa and a bird
  • Identify which mutations are the most beneficial for each species and why

Materials:

Prep:

  • This lesson assumes students have already been introduced to the concepts of mutations, adaptations and natural selection

Suggested lesson breakdown:

This activity is fairly self-guided. Introduce the game to students, and give them roughly 45min to play through the simulation while answering questions on their worksheet.

Next Generation science standards:

  • MS-LS4-4
    Construct an explanation based on evidence that describes how genetic variations of traits in a population increase some individuals’ probability of surviving and reproducing in a specific environment.