Lesson plan and worksheets to apply understandings of moral psychology in classroom discussions about ethical issues
Students explore how a honeybee swarm makes a decision about their future nesting site, and explore he similarities and differences to how human groups make decisions.
The biologist Thomas Seeley has been researching the behavior of honeybees. Particularly, he has been interested in the decision making processes that allow honeybee colonies to reliably choose among the best quality sites in an area for their new home. In his book “Honeybee Democracy”, he describes how these decision making processes work, identifies a number of principles, and makes an analogy between decision making in bees and human groups. This work helps us understand the challenges and mechanisms of a group of individuals having to make group-level decisions without a leader.
In this lesson, students explore how honey bees make their collective decisions, link these processes to general principles, and critically transfer and compare them to decision making in human groups.
- Teaching material type Analogy mapping, Full lesson plan, Reading text, Video
- Subject Areas Biology, Civics, Ethics, Politics, Social Studies
- Learning Goals Cooperation Competency, Design Thinking, Evaluation Competency, Evolutionary Thinking, Interdisciplinary Thinking, Systems Thinking
- Suitable Grade Levels 9-12, Undergraduate
- Concepts Cooperation, Decision making, Democracy, Moral cognition, Multilevel Selection, Swarm intelligence
- Content Anchors Cross-species, Sustainable Development Goals
Author: Susan Hanisch
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Students explore the principles that allow groups to work together and achieve common goals, applying them to the groups that they are a part of or care about.
A reading text about the challenges of life in groups and how groups across biology have found ways to solve these challenges.
- Honeybees make decisions collectively — and democratically. Every year, faced with the life-or-death problem of choosing and traveling to a new home, honeybees stake everything on a process that includes collective fact-finding, vigorous debate, and consensus building. In fact, as world-renowned animal behaviorist Thomas Seeley reveals, these incredible insects have much to teach us when it comes to collective wisdom and effective decision making. A remarkable and richly illustrated account of scientific discovery, Honeybee Democracy brings together, for the first time, decades of Seeley’s pioneering research to tell the amazing story of house hunting and democratic debate among the honeybees. (Source: https://press.princeton.edu/books/hardcover/9780691147215/honeybee-democracy)