Evolution game

1 minute read


As part of the Microbiome Club’s outreach activities, Tu and I are teaching a group of high school girls about the microbiome next week. We’re developing a 3-day curriculum on bacteria and the human microbiome as part of the Young Leaders in STEM summer program led by the Cambridge Science Club for Girls.

A side, non-science note: this program is part of the Cambridge Mayor’s Program, which places teens in non-profit or public sector jobs and pays them for six weeks in the summer. I think it’s such a cool idea - I was totally blown away when I learned about it! What a great way to get kids work experience, expose them to doing meaningful work, and keep them busy and out of trouble over the summer. Brilliant!

Anyway, as part of the course I’ll be leading a lesson on DNA, mutation, diversity, and selection - i.e. evolution. We had this idea to play a game where we simulate evolution, giving students a starting sequence, mutating it with the roll of a die, and then deciding which mutations do and don’t survive. I wanted to make sure it was going to work, so I did what any computational PhD student would do and I wrote a simulation! You can find the code on my github, which also includes the rules to play it in real-life. I’m super excited about how the simulation turned out, and I can’t wait to play it with the girls next week! :D