Today we took a break from our DNA lessons to play a game called Hawks & Field Mice. The goal of the lesson was to explore the role that camouflage plays in the predator/prey relationship. The students played the role of the predator (the hawks), while the prey were little tiny paper mice scattered across the ground.
As the game went on, something interesting happened. The black mice were able to blend in with the dark ground on the auditorium stage. The yellow and green mice were found more quickly and more often. After a few rounds, the majority of the surviving mice were black. And just like in real life, when mice reproduction was simulated, most of the mouse babies were also black.
Over time, the population of mice developed camouflage. And they did so naturally. Our paper mice were not aware that they were developing camouflage, nor were our human predators. And yet, by the end of the game, the population seemed to fit its environment almost perfectly. How interesting!