Evolution as Reproduction with Variability

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In this online activity, learners discover how random variation influences biological evolution. Biological evolution is often thought of as a process by which adaptation is generated through selection.  While it is recognized that random variation underlies the process, emphasis is usually placed on selection and resulting adaptation, leaving a sense that it is selection that drives evolution.  This simulation highlights the creative role of random variation, offering a somewhat different perspective: that of evolution as open-ended exploration driven by randomness and constrained by selection, with adaptation as a dynamic, transient consequence rather than an objective.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
free per student

Age Range:
Ages 14 - adult

Resource Types:
Activity, Simulation


Materials List (per student)

  • Computer with internet connection


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Earth's History
  • Life Sciences
    • Evolution
      • Mechanisms of Evolution

Informal Categories

  • Animals
  • Nature and Environment


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • read
  • use mouse

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Grobstein, Paul