Teacher Site Map
7th Grade Core
USOE Science Home Page

Hide's the name, seek's the game!

The activities on this page will allow you to determine how different traits offer a greater chance for an organism to survive. Remember that variations or differences in how traits show up in different organisms of the same species determine how well these organisms survive in their environment.

During the first activity identify how the trait of coloration affects the survival of dots. This activity will require you to work with a friend.



  • One full newspaper sheet
  • 50 black dots (use a hole punch to create these dots)
  • 50 white dots (use a hole punch to create these dots)
  • 50 newsprint dots (use a hole punch to create these dots)
  • Stopwatch, clock, or watch with second hand
  • Graph paper
  • Forceps or tweezers
  • Colored paper (something other than white, black or newsprint)


  1. Lay the newsprint on a desk
  2. Randomly spread the dots all over the newsprint
  3. Time your partner for thirty seconds, to pick up as many dots as possible.
  4. Record the number of dots that were captured (use the colored paper to help sort them)
    • Record your total dots collected
    • Record the number of white dots collected
    • Record the number of black dots collected
    • Record the number of newsprint dots collected
  5. Replace the dots.
  6. Switch roles so that the person who was the timer will now be the collector and the person who collected dots first will now do the timing.
  7. Repeat Steps 3 and 4.


Create a Data table similar to the one below. Make sure to average the number of dots that each person was able to collect.


Graph each person's collection results using a bar graph as shown in Example #1.

Example #1

In addition, create a graph to compare your results for each type of dot as shown in Example #2.

Example #2

Finally, create a bar graph which compares the results of each person with each type of dot collected as shown in Example #3.

Example #3

Finally, create a graph that compares each person's results with the average for each type of dot, as shown in Example #4.

Example #4



  1. How does your data compare with that of friends who have also done this activity?
  2. What type of dot was the easiest to pick up in the time you were given?
  3. Which type of dot was the hardest to gather?
  4. Why was there a difference between the easiest and hardest dots?
  5. What animals can you think of which survive better based on how they are colored?
  6. How might your results change if you put the dots on a different color or type of paper and then collect them?


Now that you know the basic process, try it using some fun materials! For example you could use the colored Sunday comic page and then colored dots or colored candies (such as Skittles® or M&M's®.)

You can do your graphs using a spreadsheet program.

Create a Multimedia presentation to show the process and results of your experiment.

Survival of the beaks!

Remember that traits and characteristics are things such as color, shape, or size. For animals a trait may include things like the shape of teeth, coloration, or wing size. This activity will model how traits affect the ability of certain organisms to survive.

You will be given a type of tool to represent a bird beak. You will then compete for food with other "critters" (your friends.) You will have several rounds to gather food, and, during each round, the amount of food you need to gather will increase.



  • Beak simulation objects
    • Pliers
    • Salad tongs
    • Chopsticks
    • Wrenches
    • Forks
    • Scissors
    • Pliers
    • Popsicle sticks (two, used like chopsticks)
    • Spoon(s)
    • Clothespin(s)
    • Forceps or tweezers
  • Food simulation objects
    • Straw(s) cut into 1/2 inch pieces
    • Beans
    • Corn (uncooked and unpopped)
    • Pieces of paper squares (Between the size of punched paper holes and one square inch)
    • Puffed Rice
    • Cheerios®
  • Individual container (e.g. petri dishes, small cups or bowls - for nests)
Safety concerns: icon Be sure to keep all glassware safety rules if your continer is made of glass. It is also very important that you follow all teacher directions as they relate to proper use of your "beak" and cleanup of this activity. Remember this is a simulation of a feeding activity - you are NOT to actually eat the food!


  1. Each of person is to use a different beak simulation tool.
  2. Dump a bunch of beans on the floor.
    • Take 60 seconds to collect as much “food” as you can gather and put in your container.
    • Count the food you get into your dish.
  3. An example of the times and possible food combinations is listed in the table below:
  4. Repeat the above steps for each additional round.
    • Add additional food items as suggested in the table below.
    • Each round should be 60 seconds long.

Round #

Type of food available in round.

Amount of food required to survive.





beans and pieces of paper



beans, pieces of paper, and toothpicks



beans, pieces of paper, toothpicks, and corn



Same as Round 4



Same as Round 4


  1. Record your data in a table similar to the following.

Record your simulation beak type here:_____________

    Food Type Food Type Food Type Food Type Food Type
Round 1          
Round 2          
Round 3          
Round 4          
Round 5          
Round 6          
Round 7          
Round 8          


  1. Create a graph of your success as a food gatherer compared to your friends. (You might use a pie grah, bar graph, or other type of graph.)
  2. Why would beak shape affect food gathering?
  3. Based on your results which food type was your beak best adapted for gathering?
  4. Which type of beak was most successful and why?
  5. Predict other traits that might influence food gathering ability.
  6. If you are interested in beak types, do some research on the Galapogos Island Finches (sometimes called Darwin’s Finches) and report your findings to the class.

Review science safety rules here.

Get the plug-ins: Get Adobe Acrobat Reader , and Get Quicktime Player. (The Quicktime plug-in is needed to play sounds and movies correctly.)

Want to share photos of you or your friends doing this activity? Send it in an e-mail with the following information:

  1. The title of the activity
  2. The URL (Internet address)
  3. Your name.

Remember that no pictures can be used that show student faces or student names on it. 

Teachers should view the Teacher Site Map to relate Sci-ber text and the USOE 7th grade science core.

Updated October 24, 2008 by: Glen Westbroek

Science Home Page | Curriculum Home Page | 7th Science Core Home Page | USOE Home Page

Copyright Utah State Office of Education.