Monstrous Mutations

Pamela S. Moy Morgan Park High School

1744 West Pryor

Chicago IL 60643

(773) 535-2550


Middle School to High School

Materials Needed:

Nine dry peanuts in shell (per group of three students)
Blanket for the peanuts
Table or desk
One cup (per group of three students)
15 plastic knives
Six pairs of goggles
Stop watch
Large roll of duct tape or masking tape
Paper bag containing the letters A through H on slips of paper


  1. Students should form groups of threes. Each student will simulate an animal that can only digest peanuts as its food source.
  2. Unfortunately, random mutations have produced some unusual characteristics in recent offspring. Each group will find out what mutation they represent by selecting a letter from the paper bag the teacher has provided.
  3. The letter drawn will correspond to the characteristics listed in Chart 1. This letter will also represent the letter of each group’s home location and storage cup.

Chart 1

Letter drawn by groups Characteristic produced by mutation


Long fingernails (produced by plastic knives taped to fingers with tape)


No fingers (produced by taping each hand closed)


Lack of peripheral vision (produced by putting on goggles and stuffing cotton in the sides to prevent viewing from the side)


Hands fused together in front of body (produced by placing hands together in front of body and taping them together)


Feet and ankles fused together (produced by taping the ankles tightly together with tape)


No arms (produced y taping the arms down to the side of the body with tape)


Arms fused together behind the back at the wrists (produced by placing arms behind the back and taping tightly at the wrists)


Blind (produced by using goggles taped over securely with tape)

Each group should attain the proper materials and prepare itself to represent the characteristic produced by the letter of the mutation selected from the paper bag.

5. Each group should begin the activity at the specified location in Figure A. The goals of each group are to:

A. Gather the food (nine peanuts per group)

B. Store the food for later use (place the nine peanuts in your letter-designated container).

C. Retrieve the food at a later time (remove the nine peanuts from the container and return with the peanuts to the home location).

D. Process and consume the food (remove the peanuts from the nine shells and consume these peanuts).

6. To begin the activity, each group should position itself at its specified home location. The teacher will start the stop watch and each group will begin with food gathering. Group members should proceed to the blanket containing the peanuts and gather nine peanuts per group. These nine peanuts should then be transported to a container. The three group members should return to their home location. At this point, the group will proceed back to the plastic container to retrieve its food. Once the group has removed all nine peanuts, it will return to the home location. The group will open the peanut shells and remove the contents. Each group member will consume the contents of three of the peanut shells at the completion of this process, the amount of time required to achieve this will be recorded.

7. Each group will continue until the peanuts have been consumed and time has been recorded.

8. The teacher will write the times required for each group to complete the process on the chalkboard (a bar graph can be made).

Performance Assessment:

Successful completion of activity


Hands on General Science Activities With Real-life Applications by Pam Walker and Elaine Wood