M & M Lab
1994 Woodrow Wilson Biology Institute
This laboratory investigation is set up to show how selection
occurs in a random population. The concept is that selection affects
evolution. The Hardy-Weinberg Principle is in effect. There is
a large population, random mating, no mutations, no isolation
and no migration taking place. This lab will demonstrate how selection
occurs and will analyze shifts in the populations. This shift
can be shown by a percent change.
Target Age/Ability Group
Middle School and High School/Life Science and Biology
One class period of 50 minutes
- M & M's óEqual number of each color
- extra M & M's
- Candy cornóone for each M & M
- Pan or box to hold candy
- Set up candy with equal numbers of M & M's and candy
corn. For example use 50 of each of the six M & M colors and
300 candy corn. Do not tell students what is happening or even
what you have in the box.
- Walk around the room and have each student take two M &
M's. Tell the students that the candy corn is poison. They
may look into the box to pick the color of their choice. You need
to go by very quickly.
- Count the number of each color of candy taken and tally on
the board. Make a chart on the board as shown on the next page.
|FIRST GENERATION ||SECOND GENERATION|
Have the remaining colors reproduce. If 29 red are left, then
add an additional 29 to equal a total of 58 in the second generation.
Leave the candy corn at the initial 300. This can be eaten at
the end of the lab.
- D. Repeat part C for four more generations. Continue to tally
on a chart on the chalk board. As a variation (or use for discussion),
start over with 50 of each. After the first draw, tell the
students the red ones are poison. Go through the next five
generations as done above maintaining the red one as poison.
Student Discussion Questions
- Why did they choose the colors they did?
- How does this relate to sexual selection?
- How does it show survival of the fittest?
- What happened when the same colors were chosen repeatedly?
- What biases would enter into later choices?
- What happened when the red ones became poison?
- How does this activity show the concepts of Hardy-Weinberg concept?
- How does this lab relate to mimicry?
The Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation
CN 5281, Princeton NJ 08543-5281