A Class System
This lesson plan introduces students to the topics of biological classification, evolution, taxonomy, and phylogenetics. Students develop their own classification system for a group of common items (shoes, coins, buttons, keys, are just a few options!) and group the items using their own classification rules that they develop. Students learn about previous biological classificaiton systems and why they are no longer used, and how living things are currently organized. Students will learn about Charles Darwin's contributions to the field of Biology and the prinicple of evolution. The lesson assessment is a classroom zoo where students conduct reserach on an animals and create a zoo exhibit to display what they've learned.
Grade Level: 5-7
Darwin LITE Lesson Plan
In this lesson, students will use the app, Powers of Minus Ten to explore the inter-workings of cells and their organelles. Exploration of the app is guided with the use of a scaffolded worksheet as well as class discussion. Later in the lesson, student groups will be assigned a specific organelle and use the information contained in the app to draw similarities and differences between the buildings of a city to the cell organelles. Students will construct a clay model of an organelle as well as a model of a city building. Finally student groups are asked to present their work via a class presentation followed by a creative writing assessment.
Darwin PAID Lesson Plan
The Synthetic Interview: Darwin app which can be purchased on either the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store has a wider selection of topics compared to the Lite version (free version). While questions about Darwin himself are found in this app, there are also more topics about the application of the theory of evolution, the critiques about the theory, and the effects of modernization on the theory.
This lesson will allow students to critically explore the issues surrounding the theory of evolution. Students will use the app to collect information on the various critiques about the theory, then apply this knowledge to participate in a debate to convince their classmates about their stand on the issue.
Evolution of Metabolism Puzzle Race
In this lesson students explore the concepts of evolution, metabolism, multi-cellularity, cooperation, and specialization. Used in conjunction with the movie, Our Cells, Our Selves, this activity lets students compete against each other to assemble puzzles or varying difficulties. Students learn about the relationships between the metabolisms of single-celled and multi-cellular organisms and their environments. A class discussion centered around student hypotheses is also included.
Grade Level: 3-6
Family Trees is a customizable lesson plan that can be adapted for elementary, middle, and high school students. Students learn about self and cross-fertilization in flowers and will explore the contributions of important scientists like Gregor Mendel, Reginald Punnett, and Charles Darwin. More advanced students can tackle Punnett squares to predict genetic traits in flowers. Using simple classroom materials like cups, water, and food coloring, students can observe how genetic material is mixed during reproduction. The relationship between phenotype and genotype is also examined.
Grade Level: 4-12
In Feathered Families, students learn about the concepts of taxonomy, shared taxonomic features, and the processes of natural selection and speciation. This lesson features the use of word maps (bubble and double bubble) to show the similarities and differences between the taxonomic orders of birds. Students use this comparison to determine the specific features unique to birds. A follow up activity allows students to write to their lawmakers to encourage them support conservation efforts for the unique and endangered species covered in the lesson.
Grade Level: 4-7
Fleshing Out Fossils
Students explore the concepts of natural selection, adaptation, and favorable traits in this short activity. By comparing the anatomy of extinct animals to modern day relatives, students can see the process of evolution taking place. This lessons helps to sharpen students' observational and critical thinking skills. Lesson is also appropriate to use in conjunction with lessons focused on fossil formation.
Grade Level: 4-7
Horse Foot Evolution
This short, 5 minute activity can be used in conjunction with some of the other evolution lessons listed here or as a stand alone activity for younger children. Through the use of anatomically accurate horse feet models, students are introduced to the concepts of evolution, environmental pressures, and adaptation. Tracing the changes in the anatomy of the horse hoof, demonstrates the process of evolution in a clear and easily observable way. Students participate in the activity by creating hoof imprints in clay or salt-dough using the horse feet models.
Grade Level: 3-6
Unique Beak Physique
Unique Beak Physique is a fun and engaging lesson where students learn about the concepts of natural selection, adaptation, and divergent evolution. Students participate in a game that simulates competition for resources among bird populations. Household tools like spoons, tongs, scoops, and tweezers are used to model bird beak adaptations. Environmental conditions and competitions change throughout the game and students are able to observe the effects on the survival of different species. Students end the lesson by creating a bird that would be specifically suited to live in a particular assigned environment.
Grade Level: 3-6
Veggie Variation teaches the concepts of artificial selection and domestication as they apply to some of the most common vegetables we eat. Students learn about the famous pea plant experiments conducted by Gregor Mendel as well as exploring the source of genetic variation. Students complete a hands-on planting activity that follows the scientific method framework. Skills like observation, creating a hypothesis, and record keeping are practiced.
Grade Level: K-3
What Would I Do Without You<>Students head outside for a game of Predator and Prey. Students assume the roles of predators, prey, and resources in this activity. Students experience different environmental conditions like scarcity or surplus and how that affects predator and prey relationships. Concepts covered in this lesson are: ecological relationships, co-evolution, and adaptation. An extension activity allows students to research specific predator/prey relationships and determine the characteristics that are common for each group.
Grade Level: 5-7