This blog is currently on hiatus owing to work commitments. Whilst I still keep an eye on the goings on at RiAus, and contribute to the work of the good folks at eLife, little will be added to this blog for the foreseeable future. Simon Says remains open for business, albeit at a reduced capacity. Thanks for stopping by, and I hope the archive of content found here will prove to be of interest.

Monday, 10 June 2013

Monday Science: The Animal Pairs Game

THIS is an activity I made for ThinkTank museum as part of a Meet the Scientist event on the theme of evolution and adaptation. Though my work does have a strong evolutionary angle, I do not specifically work on adaptation or taxonomy, but I wanted to gain experience demonstrating different topics. The activity – a pairs game – required a lot of effort on my part on the day, as I needed to explain constantly facts and concepts in biology (my audience were a mixture of ages, mostly young children); this I did not mind, and it was very rewarding for both myself and my visitor, but is worth warning about should you wish to try a similar activity.

The idea is to match animals based on similarity. That is, can you find two mammals? Two birds? There are traps and there are difficult animals, but the activity can be tailored depending on your audience (instead of two mammals, why not try pairing adaptations, habitats or common features such as spikes), and not all cards need to be used at any one time. I do urge you to read up on the subject of classification – it’s no longer really taught but it underpins so much of what we as biologists do. If we do not know what we are really looking at, and where it fits in the tree of life, how can we truly know the context of our results?

The full cards are below.


  1. What an excellent introduction to evolution and adaptation. I love that you can alter your "pair match" criteria depending on your audience. I'm tempted to try it with my own offspring. Lovely.