After an amazing start to the school year, things have been only getting better! The use of DESC has definitely helped my students understand the concepts of mutation, adaptation and variation. We have not had access to a computer lab (due to benchmark testing) so my students have not created their personal student accounts, however we have used the simulations, projected on the SMART board, as a whole class.
My students were having trouble understanding how mutation, variation and adaptations were related but different. I went searching on DESC and found the Moth simulation. The moth simulation is based on the changes that happened to the peppered moth in England as a result of the Industrial Revolution. I like that it’s a real-world example and incorporates the use of a time line (Yeah for incorporating other standards!). The students are given an introduction that explains the situation in England (Industrial Revolution, trees are becoming darker because of the soot and pollution in the air). Then, they are confronted with a series of pictures they must put in order. For each picture, they are given a percentage of Peppered moths as well as a percentage of Black moths. When the picture is put in the correct place on the time line, another simulation pops and shows the changes. The students are able to see that as the trees are becoming darker, the Peppered moths do not blend in and are therefore easy targets for predators. As time goes by, they are able to see that the variation in the species changes and there are more Black moths than Peppered.
Upon completing the simulation, my students were better able to explain how a mutation led to variation and how both of these concepts were related to adaptation but were also different.