Eighth grade Butterfly Project

As part of a study of Natural Selection, our eighth graders are doing a project to better understand camouflage. Camouflage is a trait that makes it very hard to see an animal in its natural habitat. Camouflage is an important part of their survival. It hides the animal from its predators while, at the same time, making the animal a sneaky predator itself. An animal that is best camouflaged in its environment has the best chance to survive, reproduce, and pass its color pattern (genes) on. The colorful patterns may be the result of genetic diversity or mutation. Students looked for a secret spot and designed a butterfly so it would blend in as much as possible.
After everyone finished, students counted the number of butterflies they could see and calculated the percentage of butterflies they were able to see and then not see. Next they engaged in conversation using the following prompts:

 

Which butterflies were easily caught and which butterflies survived to reproduce?
What trends or patterns would emerge after several generations (rounds of “hunting”)?
How does an organism’s structure enable survival and predict what might occur if the butterfly’s habitat was disturbed or damaged? For example, if a meadow became a shopping center or burns due to a fire.
What type of camouflage did the most successful butterflies in the classroom environment have?
What other adaptations of butterflies allow their survival?
Why are butterflies in trouble today?

 

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