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Game of Life: Computer Simulation of Evolution

Source Institutions

    Science Museum of Minnesota

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Game of Life: Computer Simulation of Evolution

The Game of Life is a simple computer simulation of what is called a "cellular automaton." Developed by the British mathematician John Conway in 1970, the program uses the cells of a grid and 3 simple rules to simulate evolution. In the simulation, filled cells are alive, while empty ones are dead. Learners click on cells to set up various patterns of live cells, and then click 'run' to see how the rules interact with their pattern. Play the game to explore how simple rules can generate complex patterns and even life-like movement and growth.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:

Age Range:
Ages 6 - adult

Resource Types:
Activity, Game, Simulation


Materials List (per student)

  • Computer with internet access


  • Engineering and Technology
    • Computing
      • Computer Science
    • Engineering
      • Computer Engineering
  • Life Sciences
    • Evolution
      • Mechanisms of Evolution

Informal Categories

  • Computers
  • Games


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • read
  • use keyboard
  • use mouse

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



  • All Rights Reserved, Science Museum of Minnesota, ©2009

Funding Source:

  • National Science Foundation, 0104691


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