Georgia Southern biology faculty creates guppy kits to teach evolution

Guppy kits include a variety of items including a tank, coloring pencils and more. Photo courtesy of emilykane.blogspot.com.

Tori Collins

Faculty members of the Georgia Southern University Biology department created a basic kit using guppy fish to teach grade school students about evolution.

Emily Kane, Ph.D., assistant biology professor, was influenced to create the kit after reviewing surveys showing that students have poor understanding of evolution. With help from her fellow colleagues, the idea of self-guided guppy kits that are easy to use became a reality.

“To develop and implement the kits themselves, it took about two years,” Kane said in an email. “But the activities in the kits were built off of those from a previous program that took a graduate student about five years to develop and refine.”

Each of the kits obtains a short video introducing students to the biology of Trinidadian guppies, along with instruction materials to aid student injuries. Students use observations of live guppies to evolve and challenge predictions about vital aspects of evolution such as variation, inheritance, selection and change over time.

The results of students applying the scientific method with studies of principles about evolution, allow students to develop scientific illustrations, observe animal behaviors, analyze data, draw conclusions and write the outcome of their results in a journal.

Despite the initial intent of the kits being designed for middle school and high school students, the guppy kits has overtook to the public. The kits has attained national attention and Kane’s work has been featured in the latest issue of The American Biology Teacher.

On a local level, Kane and her students have tested the kits with representatives from the Statesboro Main Street Farmers Market. Right now Kane is focusing on making the kits available here at GS.

“I’ve had many requests from teachers throughout the country who want to adapt the program to their classrooms,” Kane said in an email. “All of our materials for performing the activities are available for free online, but unfortunately I can’t send them live guppies.”

Due to the popularity of the kits Kane is looking into ways to incorporate a means for these classrooms to connect with guppies digitally,

For more information on Kane’s Guppy Kits, click here.