It’s ‘Evolution vs. Extinction’ In 6th Grade!

In our Life Science curriculum the 6th grade students learned about the theory of evolution through the process of natural selection and the how the creator of this theory, Charles Darwin, came up with it.  They learned how adaptations (physical characteristics or learned behaviors) helped organisms survive in the environments they lived in and that the environment naturally picks the organisms with the best adaptations to survive within it, while other organisms can possibly go extinct if they do not have favorable adaptations.  After the students explored this amazing theory they were tasked with creating their own creature that could survive the best in any type of environment.  This allowed the game, “Evolution vs. Extinction” to be born.  Each student designed a creature and assigned it power level points for an array of adaptations and environments that the creature could live in.  The adaptations and environments included, flying, swimming, speed, spikes, armor, camouflage, mimicry, DNA mutations, reproduction, rain forest environment, cold environment, and a hot/dry environment.  

The students were allotted 50 points to divide among all of these categories as they saw fit with a maximum of 10 points being allowed for each category.  The catch is that they had to subtract whatever points they used from the total of 50 points and put the remaining points that were left over towards the health points of their creature.  An example of this would be if a student assigned a total of 30 points to all of the different adaptations and environments of their creature they will have a total of 20 health points left for their organism.   All of this information was then transferred to a game card with a picture of the creature that the students created using a computer program.

A score card was then created to resemble an environment the creatures could battle each other in with their adaptations.  The scoring system incorporated mathematical concepts, such as adding and subtracting positive and negative integers, which the students are currently practicing in 6th grade. The health points along with the creatures adaptations, picture and score card were all used to play the card game, “Evolution vs. Extinction.”  This cross-curricular implementation was crucial in allowing the students to determine their overall scores as they battled their creatures to see who had the best organism that can survive in an environment that is randomly created using the scorecard and a set of dice. It was a two day duel to the finals and only the best adapted creature will win!

In language arts, the students created a breaking news article providing a detailed description of the appearance, adaptations, and ideal environment of their creature. They incorporated “first hand accounts” of creature sightings and even went as far as to add a picture of their rare creature. Demonstrating their knowledge and understanding of Darwin’s theory, the 6th grade students put their creation into words and wrote a captivating article allowing readers to feel as if a groundbreaking discovery really had been made! 


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