Novel Coronavirus — April 6, 2021 Update: Explore Scouts Canada’s actions as we continue to follow the direction of government and health agencies in maintaining public health. View recommendations and stay informed here.

Mutation Creation

Discover what a mutation is, how it can happen, and how it can affect a cell, a bacterium, a virus and more!

Back to Activity Finder

Plan

  • What do you need for this game? 
  • Do you want to do this Adventure alone or with a partner? 
  • What do you already know about mutations? 

Do

Sentence Scramble: 

  • With a partner or on your own, say this sentence five times fast: “A black bug bit a big black bear”. 
  • If you are with a partner, try taking turns saying the tongue-twister and see who can say it the greatest number of times without making a change (mutation). 
  • Did you say the sentence properly each time? Did you hear any changes (mutations)? Did you make these changes on purpose? 
  • Can you think of any other tongue-twister to see if that is easier or harder to say?  Are there more mutations or less mutations with the other tongue-twister? 
  • Just like when a person’s cellanimal’s cell or a virus mutates, it’s not on purpose. Sometimes there is a change in our genetic material, like a missed or switched letter during the tongue-twisterMutations are changesMutations can strengthen, weaken, or neutrally change a living cell or virus.  
  • A new flu vaccine is needed each year because the flu virus (known as influenza) naturally mutates frequently.  Scientists must track its mutations throughout the year in order to predict what type of flu vaccine is needed to protect people during an upcoming “flu season”.  

Once Upon a Time:

This sentence activity is a model for another way a virus (like the Influenzas virus) can mutate.

  • Read this bold sentence out loud, which represents a virus:

“Once upon a time there was an extremely happy rabbit that loved to eat carrots and bananas.”

  • Now read this italicized sentence out loud, which represents a different virus:

“Once upon a time there was an extremely sneaky lion that roared to scare friends and neighbours.”

  • What happens if you mix the two sentences (representing two viruses) to create a new sentence (representing a new type of virus)? Grab a pen or pencil and a piece of paper and write out this new sentence, filling in the blanks with any of the words from the two sentences above:

“Once upon a time there was an extremely _____ ______ that _______to _____ ______and _______”

  • Example: “Once upon a time there was an extremely sneaky rabbit that roared to eat friends and bananas
  • Now read your new sentence out loud. Did combining the two sentences strengthen the message? Weaken the message? Or make it just plain weird? This is similar to when a virus mutates (like with Swine Flu when a bird flu, human flu and pig flu virus combine in an animal). A mutation can strengthen a virus, weaken it, or make no meaningful difference!
  • Combating Swine Flu is an example of when veterinarians work closely with physicians (human doctors) and other scientists to keep families and animals safe.  This teamwork of people with different strengths and expertise is known as “One Health”.

Review

  • What do you know now about mutations that you did not know before? 
  • What surprised you the most about mutations 
  • Why is it important to track mutations? 
  • What is One Health? 
  • What did you like about this Adventure? What did you not like? How would you do this Adventure differently? 

Materials

Coloured pens/pencils and paper  

Keep it Simple

Draw what you think a virus looks like. Then change one thing on your drawing to represent a mutation! Describe the mutation to a friend or family member.   

Take it Further

  • Separately, both you and your partner write out the sentence below on your own piece of paper and fill in the blanks: 

“Once upon a time, there was a ____ that ____ the _____ for _____.” 

  • When you are finished, read the sentences you created to one another. 
  • What happens when we mix the two sentences together? Working with your partner and using words from both you and your partner’s sentences, combine your two sentences together to make one new sentence! Try to combine them to make the funniest sentence and then try to combine them to make the strangest sentence. 
  • Now read your new (mutated) sentence out loud and ask others for their opinions of your new sentence.  Ask them if your mutated sentence is better or worse than the two original sentences.  
  • Just like how a mutation can affect a virus, your new sentence can be stronger, weaker, or just plain strange with the changes!  
  • Learn more about mutations, viruses, and ways to protect yourself and your family on OneHealthLessons.com or the YouTube channel.