Darwin and a natural selection activity!

Charles Darwin Fact File

Name: Charles Darwin


Died: 1882

Career: Trained in medicine but didn’t like it, so decided to go into the Church but again he was not happy so at 22 he found employment as a naturalist (someone who studies nature).

Famous for: His 5 year around the world trip where he visited the Galapagos Islands and based his evidence found on his theory of evolution by natural selection

Name of ship he travelled on: The HMS Beagle

Books published: The origin of species in 1859

Hobbies: Breeding pigeons!

Darwin Science Sparks Evolution

Charles Darwin

So what is natural selection?

The theory behind natural selection is that characteristics more suited to an environment are more like to survive and pass those characteristics onto the next generation.

So if you compare yourself to someone else in the room you will notice that you may be taller or shorter than them.

If you became in competition for something…lets say food and it happens to be up on a tall shelf, the tallest person is more likely to get it. Now, we are quite a kind natured species and would often share but in nature it,/ is every living thing for himself. The living creature that was smaller and could not reach the food is more likely to starve and not breed, leaving the very full tummied taller creature to survive and pass on his or her tall genes!

Darwin found evidence of this in the Galapagos Islands.

He found that finches (which are a species of bird) varied in different ways depending on what Island they lived on. One of those differences was beak size!

Finch, Science Sparks


Some finches had fat short beaks and some finer sized beaks.

He found that the food available on the Island that the finches fed on were different sizes and that the beaks were more adapted the size of seed available. He concluded that the finches the beaks had evolved over time by the characteristics being passed through generations that made more suited to their food sources.

So fat shaped beaks dies out on the Island with small seed and the thin beaked Finches survives and passed on their genes and vice versa, so the thin beaked finches dies out where larger seed were available because they could not grasp them!


You can test this theory at home!

You will need

Three different sized seed/beans – pumpkins seeds, sunflower seeds and Flax seed are good choices

Two different sized pairs of tweezers (a pair of beauty ones and may a pair of larger craft tweezers)


six pots


1. Count 15 of each see into three of the pots

2. Decide which pair of tweezers you will use first.

3. Time yourself moving the seeds from the pots they are in to an empty pot. Repeat this with the same tweezers for each seed type.

4. Repeat again with the larger tweezers

5. Record your results

If you do this with a friend you can start racing each other and see who can them the fastest!


Which tweezers with which seed was the fastest?

Which tweezers were most suited to which seed type?

How could you ensure that your results were accurate?



Photo’s by Flickr 

Darwin – thanks to Lawrence OP 

Finch – thanks to CFBSr’s

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