A CIESE Collaborative Project

Is evolution occurring in humans?

Materials:

  • Notebooks & pencils
  • Printable Student Worksheets

Objectives:
This investigation is designed so that students can answer these questions:

Is evolution occurring in humans? (What is evolution?)

Procedures:

This is a high school/college challenge using the data collected by all the students participating in this project. Students should have a good handle on Mendelian Genetics as well as Hardy-Weinberg Equilibrium and the math associated with quadratic equations. It still may be important to review the definition of evolution with respect to the Hardy-Weinberg Equation.

To determine if evolution is occurring we need to see a change in the frequency of alleles over time. In other words, we have to figure out what percentage of the alleles in the population are recessive and dominant. If that frequency changes over time then evolution is occurring. The change may not result in a new species or even a change in the appearance of an organism. Keep in mind that it is the population that changes over time not the individual. Individuals in the future may experience the effects of evolution but evolution is not experienced on an individual level. You as an individual will not evolve, it is the population that evolves.

In order to observe evolution using the data we have recorded, we need to see if the frequency of the different alleles has changed since the last time we ran the Human Genetics project. So, in Part 1 the frequency of alleles is calculated and compared to a previous run of the Genetics project.

In Part 2 and Part 3 we use statistical analyses that help us determine if differences that we think we see in the data are significant enough to prove useful.

In Part 2, we will use the chi square test to determine if the numbers that have been tallied are significantly different from percentages expected based on the last run of the CIESE Genetics Project.

Finally, in Part 3 we can compare the data from past runs of the Human Genetics Project to see if the data changes significantly over that time. We will use Microsoft Excel to build trendlines and extrapolate into the future. Some background in both Microsoft Excel and statistics is necessary to effectively use this part of the project