Suggestion for lesson plan:
1. Interactive introduction (+ slides) about the predator-prey interactions, different antipredator strategies and examples of protective coloration (10 minutes). The goal of the introduction is to briefly describe how different type of protective colour strategies function and how predators that use vision in foraging affect the evolution of prey coloration.
2. Protective coloration game (20-30 minutes). Students will participate for an ‘experiment’ as predators which will (in most of the cases) demonstrate the avoidance learning of warningly coloured prey items. By analysing results together you can also demonstrate how scientific information is produced (data collection and data analysis).
3. Sensory signals & Strange creatures club. Art based exercises for exploring the sensory signals of the environment, and exploring how protective and warning colours could function in an imaginary flower or creature.
Extra for more advanced level students:
Simulations for the evolution of protective colouration. With this simple simulation provided us by Santtu Tikka from the Department of Statistics (University of Jyväskylä), students can use the mortality numbers from their game to try out how frequencies of warningly coloured and camouflaged prey items would change across generations. It is also possible to add complexity for the system by making e.g. aposematic strategy more costly to produce and maintain and then see how it affects the frequency of aposematic and camouflaged prey genotypes.
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Animal Researcher workshop
(suitable e.g. 10 years old children onwards, 3 x 2 hours).
After participating for the introductory part and protective coloration game, students can plan and design their own study where they test how coloration affects predation risk in nature. In this way, students will also learn about the different stages of production of scientific information as well as experimental.
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