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Natural Science - Year II

Unit 43: The Game of Life Lab

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Lab Assignment for Unit 43

This Unit's Homework Page History Lecture Science Lecture Lab Parents' Notes

Unit 43 Laboratory Activity: Changes in Population Characteristics

Goal: See how a population with individuals having different traits changes over time.

Equipment and Materials:


In this simulation, each cell location is an individual organism. Its survivability is determined by the presence or absence of neighbors. A cell is alive if it is occupied by a color, and dead if it isn't.

  1. Bring up the Game of Life webpage.
  2. Leave the game alone for a minute and read the rules for the survival of a cell. These rules define "fitness" for survival.
  3. Scroll back up to the game. You should see 5 cells occupied by a "Glider" form on the main grid.
  4. Copy the Glider form onto a piece of graph paper and number the cells so that you can identify them. Predict which cells will survive, and where new cells may form.
  5. Let the game run for several generations. What happened to the original cells? Did any of them "survive"?
  6. Select a different shape from the left-most dropdown and repeat your observations.
  7. You can make new shapes by using CLEAR and then clicking and dragging on the grid.
    • Can you create three different shapes which preserve the "life" of a given cell?
    • Can you create a shape that increases the population of living cells?


What characteristics were necessary for the survival of a given cell? How did the survival of the individual influence the survival of the population of live cells? How could this kind of analysis be applied to the population of a given species in a particular area?