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Investigating Variation

In this worksheet, students will be helped to explore different characteristics of human beings - in other words to see the extent to which we vary from each other.

'Investigating Variation' worksheet

Key stage:  KS 2

Curriculum topic:   Evolution and Inheritance

Curriculum subtopic:   Offspring and Variation

Difficulty level:  

Worksheet Overview

QUESTION 1 of 10

Variation is how similar or different living things are from each other. For example: in a class of students, some may be tall or short and have different coloured eyes, skin, hair. These are generally inherited characteristics (unless you've been having fun with hair dyes!), whilst other variations are the cause of your environment - for example: your skin colour might be inherited or it might be temporarily different as you've just returned from a holiday in Spain!

 

This worksheet looks at different aspects of variation and how we might be able to measure them to see how they vary within a group of people.

John and Sarah were investigating how pupils in their class were the same and different.

First they measured the length of each pupil’s little finger.

 

 

 

What would be the best instrument for measuring the length of their little fingers?

metre ruler

tape measure

laser pen

Once John and Sarah had collected all the data for the length of the students' little fingers they plotted it on a bar graph.

Here are their results:

 

 

What do you think would be the most suitable unit for the measurement of their little fingers?

mm

cm

m

inches

Here is John and Sarah's bar graph again:

 

 

Use the data in the bar graph to work out how many students are in the class.

10

28

40

75

Here is John and Sarah's bar graph again:

 

 

What are the most common (the MODE) lengths of little finger in the class (tick all you think are correct)?

50-55

56-60

61-65

66-70

71-75

Here is the data for the final time:

 

 

What do you think is the most likely reason for the variation in the lengths of the little fingers of the students in this class?

The ones with longer fingers had eaten more food in their lives

The length of their fingers is something they inherit from their parents

The ones with the smallest fingers had sucked them a lot as babies

John and Sarah had found out quite a lot about variation in their class.

Next they counted the number of pupils who can and cannot roll their tongues. If you can roll your tongue it looks like this:

 

 

 

What do you think was the likely method that they used to collect their data?

look at books

identify factors to keep the same

observe students' tongues

measure students' tongues

John and Sarah worked out their results and represented them on a pie chart, like this:

 

 

 

Looking at their data what proportion of the class would you say are able to roll their tongues?

85%

60%

34%

John and Sarah then continued their investigation by visiting a class of older students to see how they varied.

 

First they measured the length of their little fingers.

 

What do you predict John and Sarah are likely to have discovered compared to their results from the younger class?

Their little fingers will, on average, be longer than those of the younger children

Their little fingers will, on average, be the same length as those of the younger children

Their little fingers will, on average, be shorter than those of the younger children

If John and Sarah now investigated the ability of the older students to roll their tongues, predict what you think their results are likely to be.

All the students can roll their tongues

80% can roll their tongues

50% can roll their tongues

34% can roll their tongues

None of the students can roll their tongues

Variations between people may be a product of their genes - something they inherited from their parents - or it may be a product of their environment.

 

Here is a list of common factors that vary between people. Try to match them to their likely cause: INHERITED or ENVIRONMENT.

If you cannot see all the words in the boxes on the left, just hover your mouse over them.

Column A

Column B

height
inherited
eye colour
environment
how good you are at football
environment
shape of ear
environment
speaking different languages
inherited
your accent
inherited
hair colour
environment
hair length
inherited

Throughout this activity we have looked at how humans vary from each other.

 

We believe that this variation is one of the major factors that affects natural selection, one of the drivers behind evolution.

 

Complete this sentence:

Column A

Column B

height
inherited
eye colour
environment
how good you are at football
environment
shape of ear
environment
speaking different languages
inherited
your accent
inherited
hair colour
environment
hair length
inherited
  • Question 1

John and Sarah were investigating how pupils in their class were the same and different.

First they measured the length of each pupil’s little finger.

 

 

 

What would be the best instrument for measuring the length of their little fingers?

CORRECT ANSWER
tape measure
EDDIE SAYS
A metre rule is too cumbersome to use to measure a little finger, as it is obviously a metre long! So a tape measure would work best, being easy to handle and flexible.
  • Question 2

Once John and Sarah had collected all the data for the length of the students' little fingers they plotted it on a bar graph.

Here are their results:

 

 

What do you think would be the most suitable unit for the measurement of their little fingers?

CORRECT ANSWER
mm
EDDIE SAYS
Looking at the figures above and the likely length of your little finger it's got to be mm (millimetres). I mean, a 50cm little finger? That's half a metre long...!
  • Question 3

Here is John and Sarah's bar graph again:

 

 

Use the data in the bar graph to work out how many students are in the class.

CORRECT ANSWER
40
EDDIE SAYS
Look at the height of each bar next to the number of students: they go 6, 10, 10, 6, 8 - that's how many are in each group. Add them up to make 40 students.
  • Question 4

Here is John and Sarah's bar graph again:

 

 

What are the most common (the MODE) lengths of little finger in the class (tick all you think are correct)?

CORRECT ANSWER
56-60
61-65
EDDIE SAYS
As you can see there were two groups each with 10 students in: 56-60mm and 61-65mm - these were the most common lengths of little finger.
  • Question 5

Here is the data for the final time:

 

 

What do you think is the most likely reason for the variation in the lengths of the little fingers of the students in this class?

CORRECT ANSWER
The length of their fingers is something they inherit from their parents
EDDIE SAYS
It's true that what you eat does have an effect upon how well you grow but the key reason for the variation here is inherited characteristics from our parents: it's likely that parents with longer than average fingers will produce children with longer fingers as well.
  • Question 6

John and Sarah had found out quite a lot about variation in their class.

Next they counted the number of pupils who can and cannot roll their tongues. If you can roll your tongue it looks like this:

 

 

 

What do you think was the likely method that they used to collect their data?

CORRECT ANSWER
observe students' tongues
EDDIE SAYS
Tongue rolling is an observed factor - you either can or you cannot. So John and Sarah would ask their classmates to roll their tongue and simply note how many could and how many could not.
  • Question 7

John and Sarah worked out their results and represented them on a pie chart, like this:

 

 

 

Looking at their data what proportion of the class would you say are able to roll their tongues?

CORRECT ANSWER
85%
EDDIE SAYS
If you add 34 to 6 you'll see that John and Sarah measured the tongue-rolling ability of 40 students. If 34 of those 40 students can roll their tongues, that's 85% ((34 ÷ 40) x 100 = 85%).
  • Question 8

John and Sarah then continued their investigation by visiting a class of older students to see how they varied.

 

First they measured the length of their little fingers.

 

What do you predict John and Sarah are likely to have discovered compared to their results from the younger class?

CORRECT ANSWER
Their little fingers will, on average, be longer than those of the younger children
EDDIE SAYS
Clearly, as you grow, your fingers grow too. So whilst in the older class there will be students with little fingers no bigger than those in the younger class, looking at all the data it is likely that the spread of results would be bigger, say from 50-75mm in John and Sarah's class up to 65-100mm in the older class.
  • Question 9

If John and Sarah now investigated the ability of the older students to roll their tongues, predict what you think their results are likely to be.

CORRECT ANSWER
80% can roll their tongues
EDDIE SAYS
Although it's unlikely to be exact, the PROPORTION of the students who can roll their tongues in the older class is likely to be very similar to those who were able to in the younger class. That's because it's a TRAIT that you inherit from your parents: either you can or you can't. It does NOT change with age like, for example, the length of your little finger would do. So about 80% should be right.
  • Question 10

Variations between people may be a product of their genes - something they inherited from their parents - or it may be a product of their environment.

 

Here is a list of common factors that vary between people. Try to match them to their likely cause: INHERITED or ENVIRONMENT.

If you cannot see all the words in the boxes on the left, just hover your mouse over them.

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

height
inherited
eye colour
inherited
how good you are at football
environment
shape of ear
inherited
speaking different languages
environment
your accent
environment
hair colour
inherited
hair length
environment
EDDIE SAYS
All right, hair colour can be changed with dyes (environmental) but we are all born with a particular colour BEFORE we change it! Also height can be affected by poor nutrition: a child who receives a poor, unbalanced diet and not a lot of it is less likely to achieve the full height that their genes could have allowed them. However, taller people are much more likely to have tall children. If you are a rugby player, the shape of your ears may change slightly, but the original ear shape is inherited in your genes.
Otherwise you can see that some are clearly the product of where we are and what we do - others are the product of what information we inherited from our parents' genes.
  • Question 11

Throughout this activity we have looked at how humans vary from each other.

 

We believe that this variation is one of the major factors that affects natural selection, one of the drivers behind evolution.

 

Complete this sentence:

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
If you put "suited", good effort, but as you look towards KS3 you need to start using the right words (or nomenclature!!). You will know from your previous work that organisms which are best ADAPTED to their environment are more likely to survive and thrive there. Variation amongst individuals of a species ensures that each has slightly different characteristics which may give certain individuals an increased chance of survival (and thus of passing on their variation) in a changing world.
---- OR ----

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