(4th grade, 45-55 min)
The student will draw conclusions regarding the advantages of
camouflage in nature; the student will also observe the consequences
of environmental alteration, whether natural or man made, and
the process of natural selection
Science TEKS (grade 4)
Adaptations increase survival of species
9a: observe and identify characteristics that allow survival
Critical thinking, problem solving, and decision making
3c:represent natural world using models, identify limitations
2d: communicate valid conclusions
black and white newspaper (no colored ads)
black construction paper
black poster board (approx 8 sheets)
cardboard moth cutouts
pencil or colored marker (not black)
timer or watch
The teacher should place various colored paper moths around the
classroom or outside; some should be plainly visible, others should
blend well with the surface. Have the students try to find them.
Ask the students which were easiest to find and why. Also ask
students which moth they would want to be if they could choose.
Have the students pair up (teacher may want to assign partners).
One member of each group will trace and cut out 20 black construction
paper moths. The other member will trace and cut 20 newspaper
moths. While students are occupied with this task, the teacher
should spread out in a long line several sheets of newspaper.
Then place a long line of black poster board parallel to the newsprint.
Once the students have completed the cutouts, have the students
line up along the newsprint. While one member of the pair faces
away, the other member spreads all 40 moths on the newsprint,
making sure they are interspersed. The teacher then has the partner
turn and, when it is time to begin, the student will bend down,
pick up ONE moth and stand up; repeat for 20 seconds, making sure
to stand completely after each one. When time is up, partner #2
records the number of black and newsprint moths collected. The
group then moves to the black paper and repeats, switching jobs.
If the class is large, half the groups can begin with the newsprint
while the other half starts on the black paper; then reverse.
Once the activity is completed, the teacher should compile the
data for the entire class and ask questions regarding the results,
leading the children to observe any patters and associations.
sharp edged scissors; use caution
The students should realize the connections between coloration and background colors. The students should also connect that when an environment is altered by humans or by changes in climate, variations may or may not help the insect survive.
The teacher may want to relate this activity with the actual historical
significance of the peppered moth in England during the industrial
revolution. Point out how the peppered moths were able to survive
well until the settlement of soot caused the habitat to appear
blackish. At that point, what had been a mutation became an adaptation
and vice versa.
English: students could write a newspaper article about the phenomena
as though there were living during the industrial revolution.
They may also try a debate for and against pollution control
History: students could research other documented occurrences
of environmental change and the resulting change of species adaptations
Math: students can run several trials and take averages to determining
the frequency with which the expected results occur; graphing
can also be used