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Natural Selection Lab



This natural selection lab simulation is a fun way to illustrate antibiotic resistance, one of the quickest forms of natural selection.  Using different pasta shapes and a few different tools, students simulate the natural selection of bacterial species in response to several factors.  Antibiotic dosages, mutation through conjugation, and narrow v. broad-spectrum antibiotics are all discussed.

Please note: This lab is part of my Full-Year Biology Curriculum and can also be found in Unit 9: Evolution.

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Included in this natural selection lab:

  • 1 page of teacher instructions with materials list (see required materials below)
  • 1 page of student background information on bacterial structure & use of antibiotics
  • 4 pages of student instructions with data tables, graphs, and comprehension questions (both on-level and honors versions provided)
  • Answer keys

Necessary materials: about 6 boxes of rigatoni & 5 boxes of rotini for the whole class (can be reused for other classes), plastic cups, paper plates, pinchable wooden clothespins, toothpicks


Topics addressed: mechanisms of antibiotics, bacterial structure, effectiveness of dosage, mutation, conjugation, plasmids, variation, fitness, narrow-spectrum antibiotic, broad-spectrum antibiotic



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