Understanding the theory of natural selection is crucial for any student of biology, but many secondary and postsecondary students struggle with the concepts. We present a novel, engaging exercise to illustrate natural selection through making pancakes. After students make pancakes (representing offspring) with various ingredients (illustrating genetic diversity and allelic variation), other students (representing the environment) judge the pancakes on the basis of taste. Only the highest-ranking pancakes are made in a second generation (illustrating population change over time), and new ingredients are added. After several generations of pancakes, with each generation exposed to ever-changing “environments,” students understand the fundamental concepts associated with the theory of natural selection.
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Vol. 81 • No. 2