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Teach Mutation and Evolution
with Crazy Plant Shop

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Theory

Introduction

Learn about evolution and mutation, the two processes that allow for great adaptation and the slow formation of new species!

Teacher Resources

  • Theory: This lesson takes a closer look at evolution and mutation.
  • Play: Students continue playing Crazy Plant Shop and cultivating their plants.
  • Share & Discuss: These questions focus on the playing experience and evolution.

Evolution

  • Evolution is a theory in biology that postulates that the various types of plants, animals, and other living things on Earth have their origin in other preexisting types.
  • Natural selection is the process that favors the reproduction of the organisms most responsive to change.
  • Changes in successive generations (brought about by mutation combined with natural selection) eventually, over thousands of years, lead to new species and adaptation.
  • The evolution of an organism is so slow that a caveman child raised today would virtually have the same genes as any other human today.

Gameplay screenshot

Teacher Resources

Mutation

  • The whole of humanity is one species with the same genes. Mutation creates slightly different versions of the same genes, called alleles. (source)
  • Mutation is the process that creates variation. These variations can be helpful, harmful or indifferent.
  • In the image below, a mutation has caused the partially yellow petal.
  • Much of DNA is useless but also harmless. Humans have tailbones and appendixes, which are not known to serve any function, but are not normally harmful either.

Gameplay screenshot

Teacher Resources

Play

Lesson Goal

Play Crazy Plant Shop! Try to complete the following objectives:

  • Create a plant that is recessive and homozygous (dd) for all traits
  • Create a plant that is heterozygous for all traits (Dd or dD)

While playing, pay attention to the following concepts. What do they mean? How are they represented in-game (if at all)?

  • Mutation
  • Heredity
  • Allele

Gameplay screenshot

Gameplay Tips

  • Sometimes you cannot produce a certain trait without buying an additional plant. It can be useful to buy a plant with random traits, but this can be very expensive if you don't get a plant with the right alleles.
  • If you manage to create two perfect breeding plants, you will never require more copies of that plant to fulfill any order. If you have two plants that have both a dominant and recessive allele for every trait, you can create any genotype and phenotype.

Share & Discuss

Share & Discuss

  • Can you think of real examples of evolution?
  • What do you think happens to a population if it exists in isolation for extended periods of time, genetically speaking?
  • Do you prefer to buy plants or breed all of them yourself? Why?

Tasks after Playing

Explain the following concepts in your own words:

Mutation

Show Notes

Mutation is a change in DNA. It can be random or caused by environment. Mutation also increases genetic diversity.

In-game, mutation is not truly represented: the plants cannot suddenly develop new colors, for example.

Heredity

Show Notes

Heredity is a biological process that involves traits. Traits are passed on to offspring, ensuring the traits live on with the offspring.

In-game, heredity and traits are represented with the breeder and the breeding of new plants (offspring).

Allele

Show Notes

Allele is part of a gene and come in pairs: for example, AA and aa are a pair of dominant and recessive alleles, respectively.

In-game, each plant has at least a single pair of alleles, depicted in the Punnett Square.

Evolution

Show Notes

Evolution is the process by which different kinds of living organism are believed to have developed from earlier forms during the history of the earth.

Insects evolve much faster than humans. Why? Hint: consider when mutation can occur.

Show Notes

Insects have far shorter lifespans than humans, which is why they evolve faster. Technically, they evolve at the same rate as any other kind of organism, but their shorter lives mean they typically go through thousands of generations when humans only have a single generation.