The Great Clade Race - Zombie Island Edition
This activity is a modification of the "Great Clade Race" (Goldsmith, 2003). This activity is great for helping students understand cladograms/phylogenies, but the original reinforces some problematic misconceptions (like "evolution is directed" or "characters are predetermined"). The Zombie Island version works to avoid these misconceptions while leveraging the positive aspects of the "Great Clade Race".
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Description and Teaching Materials
Phylogenetic Systematics Analogy - Zombie Island
Activity Description (Acrobat (PDF) 1.3MB Jul20 20)
Instructions Power Point (PowerPoint 2007 (.pptx) 4.1MB Jul20 20)
Student teams are forensic scientists (like in CSI) trying to reconstruct the events on Zombie Island based on clues from survivors. Working in a group of 3-4, you'll turn in one piece of paper for your group with all of your names on it. You have a set of 8 cards with symbols on them; these cards are your clues! Cards 1-9 (Acrobat (PDF) 96kB Jul13 20)
Use logic to reconstruct everyone's escape route based on the clues found on their cards and the following rules:
1. Zombies infested this island, the island people had to get away, so they ran to the beach to swim to safety!
2. They left the stronghold by a single exit.
3. The only safe way off the island was the northern beach
4. They escaped from anywhere on the northern side of the island
5. They could not retrace their path or go back (zombies!!!)6. People ran through the woods in groups or split up
- People either stayed with their group or split in two
- People never (re)joined a group (they might be zombies!)
7. Each person has a card that captured pollen from plants
8. As they ran, each person passed vegetation with unique pollen that got stuck to their card.
9. Everyone made it to the beach!
Student Handout (Acrobat (PDF) 678kB Jul13 20)
Deliverable #1: Using the sticky cards collected from the survivors in the water:
- Sketch the paths of escape from Zombie island
- Show all patches of vegetation people passed through (on the straightaways)
- Mark the beach exit used by each person
Deliverable #2: Compare your map with another group's map; do they look identical? If not, does their map still work (i.e., can maps that look different represent the same data)?
Optional Deliverable #3: If you finish early, your instructor will give you a ninth card. Add this survivor to your map. Do you encounter any problems? What might these issues tell you?
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Author(s): David W. Goldsmith
Source: The American Biology Teacher, 65(9):679-682. 2003.