Exploring Evolution and Ecology in Darwin’s Galapagos Islands - Part 1 is a PowerPoint presentation (64 slides) complete with background information and notes to guide the teacher through the presentation. Students will learn about the adaptations of plants and animals unique to the Galapagos Islands and they will get to see what Darwin saw.
A few summers ago my wife and I had the wonderful opportunity to spend 8 days in the Galapagos Islands. We lived on board a 16-passenger motor yacht with a small ship’s crew and two naturalist guides. During the nighttime the captain would sail our boat on to the next island so when we woke up the next morning for breakfast we found ourselves anchored near a new island. Half of us would climb into a dinghy with one of the naturalist guides and half of us would board the other one. Then we would motor up to the island beach, climb out and wade ashore, eagerly anticipating a two-hour hike with our naturalist guide. Let me tell you, for a high school biology teacher this experience was absolutely exhilarating! Not all of our outings were island hikes. Some of them were snorkeling expeditions – both deep water and shallow reef adventures. The waters around the islands are pristine and among the richest in the world in terms of biodiversity and it was breathtaking! I had no idea that all of those beautiful saltwater fish that I’ve seen in our local aquarium store grew to be 18 to 24 inches long in the wild! Our days were filled with wonder.
I put together the PowerPoint presentation entitled Exploring Evolution and Ecology in Darwin’s Galapagos Islands, so that I could share this adventure with my students. It has been one of those “works every time!” lessons. When I share my own personal experiences with the kids it suddenly makes Darwin’s adventures come alive. It seems to make Darwin’s experiences more real to the kids, and the practical, concrete examples of evolutionary and ecological concepts demonstrated by the flora and fauna of the islands serve to reinforce many biological concepts I want my kids to remember. I’ve noticed an interesting, unexpected phenomenon when I have shared these materials with other biology teachers throughout Indiana. This activity seems to work just as well for their own students. Even though another biology teacher using these materials may not have personally gone to the Galapagos, just letting his/her students know that the guy in these slides is a colleague and friend – a fellow biology teacher – seems to work and make the textbook come alive for them as well!
This product is actually the first of two products that can be ordered separately. Part 2 is the worksheet packet entitled Exploring Evolution and Ecology in Darwin’s Galapagos Islands that the students can work through following the teacher’s PowerPoint presentation (includes an answer key for the teacher). The questions in the packet are based directly on the PowerPoint presentation of the same title. This can be used as a test, or as an in-class activity where students can work through the activity in small cooperative learning groups, or in pairs. The worksheet packet will require some critical thinking (probing a little higher into the levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy) and some writing. When using this packet in cooperative learning groups I have found it effective to have a spokesperson from each group then report to the rest of the class on his/her group’s responses to specific questions in the packet. The packet could also be used as an outside of class homework assignment.
These products will fit nicely into any of your existing units on ecology or evolution. I hope you enjoy using them!