This activity lets learners participate in the process of reconstructing a phylogenetic tree and introduces them to several core bioinformatics concepts, particularly in relation to evolution. Groups of learners (at least 10) repeat a secret message (five to seven similar-sounding words) like the game "Telephone". In this version of the game, however, learners write and then code what they hear, creating a model of a phylogenetic tree and using a species distance matrix. This resource includes background information about phylogenetic trees, maximum parsimony, and matrix theory (see page 6-7 of PDF).
In this activity related to computer programming, learners give directions to a "robot" (either an adult or another learner) and find out which instructions the robot is able to follow, and how their instructions are taken literally. This activity will simulate how computers follow instructions very precisely, which can be frustrating at times. This activity also helps learners understand instruction set size (large complex vs. small efficient).