The Age of Revolution was a time of exploration and discovery in the field of natural sciences. Captain Cook’s voyages brought new knowledge to Europe about the animals, plants and peoples in Australia, Hawaii and other lands in the Pacific. Charles Darwin’s studies aboard HMS Beagle led him to develop the theory of natural selection and evolution, which would transform the way the natural world was understood.

SEARCH: Hampshire Cultural Trust worked with Year 6 students from Newtown Primary School to find out more about these discoveries and explore adaptation and evolution using Scratch – the simple coding language.


1.    Inspiration

Students from Newtown Primary visited SEARCH in Gosport to explore Darwin’s theory of natural selection and evolution. They looked at the ways different animals are adapted to their habitats, including:

• How the beaks and body shapes of different species of finch vary depending on their habitat and diet
• How the Kangaroo is adapted to different habitats in Australia – their large feet and muscular back legs allow them to cover large distances, their long, thick tail helps them to balance and their large ears are well suited to listening for predators.

They also handled fossils and compared them to their living relatives.


2.    Scratch: exploring

The students used this information to play Exquisite Specimen, a simple Scratch game.

In the game, players are presented with a series of three multiple-choice questions based on the way kangaroos have evolved. The game has been designed so that players always progress to the next level, irrespective of what they select. However, when players select the correct answer for each question, they are given additional information which tells them how their choice will benefit their species over successive generations.

the exquisite specimen game on the Scratch website

The game ends after three levels. Players are shown one of two endings, informing them of their overall progress. Selecting all three correct answers presents players with an audio cue and text congratulating them on their success, while players who do not select all three correct answers are invited to work through the game again, and try different responses.

level end page of exquisite specimen game game end page of exquisite specimen game


3.    Scratch: Coding

They then:

• Discussed the game’s design and their likes and dislikes
• Clicked on the game’s See inside option to look directly at the simple codes and assets used to construct the game
• ‘Remixed’ the game by manipulating the code and other assets of the game, such as artwork and audio effects to create their own personalised versions.

the Scratch website

Follow our step-by-step guide to using Exquisite Specimen to explore adaptation and evolution and create your own versions of the game with your students.