Alien Evolution: A Hardy Weinberg Introduction to Evolution

Grade Levels
9th - 12th, Higher Education, Homeschool
Resource Type
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50 pages
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This is the perfect lesson to introduce evolution at the end of your genetics unit with a fun data-based analysis of population genetics! No need to use the Hardy Weinberg equilibrium equation! This lesson only involves simple averages (or frequencies).

This packet of questions is a thorough lesson that connects a unit on genetics to an introduction of evolution. I find as a teacher that introducing evolution as a result of genetic change is difficult without some reference to Hardy Weinberg equilibrium. But often, regular level students and even some honors students struggle with the math involved with the typical Hardy Weinberg lesson.

In this lesson, I have written fictional scenarios about an alien species on several planets. Each planet represents a different condition needed to maintain or break Hardy Weinberg equilibrium. Students will do simple mathematics (finding frequencies i.e. percentages) and will analyze how allele frequencies change under these separate conditions. The terms p and q are used to represent allele frequencies, but there is no need to find p2, 2pq, and q2, enabling students to focus on the concepts instead of getting too bogged down in the mathematics. Students will need a simple calculator and pencil.

Lesson Contents:

Introduction: Review of simple Punnett squares, codominance, and introduction to frequencies.

Part A: A simple, small population and frequency calculations

Part B: A scenario showing a planet’s population in Hardy Weinberg Equilibrium and a comparison to small population in part A. The bottleneck effect is introduced.

Part C: A scenario showing the founder effect

Part D/E: A scenario showing how immigration affects population genetics.

Part F: A scenario showing how mutation can affect allele frequencies

Part G: A scenario showing how nonrandom mating can affect allele frequencies (trickiest part because nonrandom mating often doesn’t affect allele frequencies but will affect the percentage of homozygotes/heterozygotes and may cause speciation later on. This is slightly touched on, just to introduce the topic. Speciation is not mentioned)

Part H: A scenario showing how natural selection can affect allele frequencies (Key introduction to the rest of your unit on evolution)

Two student summary pages that could be collected and graded to test student understanding is also included.

A full teacher key is included!

In class, I recommend you go through the introduction and Part A together as a class. You could then have the students work in pairs or groups of 3, working through the whole packet. I wouldn’t recommend breaking it up and splitting the work between groups, because doing the whole thing is most beneficial to students. The packet takes about 45 minutes to 90 minutes to complete, depending on how advanced your students are. I would stop the students after Part B and Part D/E to check for understanding before they move on to other parts.

Are you looking for a comprehensive bunch of homework pages for your Evolution Unit? Check out my 9 page Evolution Homework Bundle which covers Hardy Weinberg, phylogenetic trees, geologic time, and gene flow.

I designed this lesson to address

Next Generation Science Standards* HS-LS3-3:

Apply concepts of statistics and probability to explain the variation and distribution of expressed traits in a population.

HS-LS4-3: Apply concepts of statistics and probability to support explanations that organisms with an advantageous heritable trait tend to increase in proportion to organisms lacking this trait.

Other Evolution Resources:

A 3 part tutorial on How to Read a Phylogenetic Trees

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Total Pages
50 pages
Answer Key
Teaching Duration
2 hours
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