Clippy Island: An Investigation into Natural Selection

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In this activity, leaners will observe the process of natural selection on a population of birds called 'Springbeaks' over four seasons of breeding on an isolated environment called 'Clippy Island.' Learners will simulate feeding in a timed exercise to illustrate how a limited food supply and the introduction of genetic variants can lead to natural selection and adaptation. Learners will examine whether or not beak size affects the ability of a Springbeak to gather food and how this variation can affect successive generations in the population. This activity is designed for large groups of 30 learners but can work for smaller groups of at least 16 learners.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Learning Time:
45 to 60 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$10 - $20 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 11 - adult

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan, Simulation


Materials List (per group of students)


  • Life Sciences
    • Diversity of Life
      • Animals
    • Ecology
      • Ecosystems
      • Populations
    • Evolution
      • Mechanisms of Evolution

Informal Categories

  • Animals
  • Nature and Environment


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • see color
  • read
  • be mobile
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

Includes alignment to state and/or national standards:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • The University of Manchester; The Manchester Museum; Furness, Lauren ; Sutherland, Louise ; Chalk, Hannah ; Bulleid, Dr. Susan ; Bamford, Dr. Amanda ; McGhie, Henry