Biology teachers inevitably struggle with how best to teach evolution. Students arrive in their classrooms with preconceptions, many of which are overwhelmingly skeptical, and science teachers are increasingly being pressured to adhere to an arbitrary degree of objectivity that makes discussing scientific worldviews challenging. These challenges have resulted in evolution being taught largely as a series of explanations for questions arising from observations of the living world. In so doing, students may not have a chance to grapple with the worldview that produced those explanations, or develop a more mechanistic intuition for inheritance and change in the world they see around themselves. Here we put forth all the tools necessary for a class to build a simulation of an evolving population experiencing natural selection from scratch in a Google Docs spreadsheet. Not only will this activity help students experiment with the natural world more mechanistically, but it will also allow them to learn as actual evolutionary biologists do.
Skip Nav Destination
Research Article| October 01 2017
Using Spreadsheets to Simulate an Evolving Population
Ryan E. Langendorf,
Ryan E. Langendorf
2RYAN E. LANGENDORF is a PhD candidate in Environmental Studies and Interdisciplinary Quantitative Biology at the University of Colorado at Boulder, 397 UCB, Boulder, Colorado 80309; email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Search for other works by this author on:
The American Biology Teacher (2017) 79 (8): 635–643.
- Views Icon Views
- Share Icon Share
- Search Site
Ryan E. Langendorf, Paul K. Strode; Using Spreadsheets to Simulate an Evolving Population. The American Biology Teacher 1 October 2017; 79 (8): 635–643. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/abt.2017.79.8.635
Download citation file: