Thinking Like Darwin Activity

Thinking Like Darwin Activity
Thinking Like Darwin Activity
Thinking Like Darwin Activity
Thinking Like Darwin Activity
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In brief: I use this activity very early in the unit on evolution. The goal is to introduce the work of Charles Darwin, and to get students to frame their thinking around the similarities, differences, and relationships between organisms, and their environments. The activity is not designed to get students to learn the detailed mechanisms of evolution by natural selection, but rather to have them draw some of the same conclusions and generalizations that informed Darwin on his voyage.
1. Students read a brief background about Darwin and his voyage
2. Students examine information about three different locations from around the world, and some of the organisms that live there.
3. Students are asked to make connections, and see patterns amongst the organisms and their environments.

DCI’s: LS1.A: Structure and Function
LS4.A-C: Biological Evolution: Unity and Diversity

Cross Cutting Concepts: Patterns, Structure and Function, Stability and Change

Scientific and Engineering Practices:
Asking Questions and Defining Problems
Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions


Prior Knowledge: No specific prior knowledge is required for this. In fact, I suggest that you use it as an introductory activity in a unit on Evolution.

"Evolution Unit Bundle" includes everything you need to teach a unit on Evolution, and its NGSS aligned.

Get it here: Evolution Unit Bundle

"Evidence for Evolution: Stations Lab" explores six lines of evidence that support evolution by natural selection. Each line of evidence is its own station, and students use inquiry to complete the lab.

Get it here: Evidence for Evolution Stations Lab

"Antibiotic Resistance Lab" models the evolution of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Students then simulate the evolution of a “superbug” infection

Get it here: Antibiotic Resistance Lab

"Hacking Cladograms" is a student-centered activity that walks students through how to interpret, and create a cladogram.

Get it here: Hacking Cladograms

"Speciation Activity" teachings students about several types of speciation, which has students model speciation in a frog population that is divided by a mountain range.

Get it here: Speciation Activty

Implementing the Lesson:

Materials and Setup: All materials (other than a tape or glue) are included in this packet. There is no setup for the teacher (other than printing). It is helpful to students if you print the images of organisms in color (I print a set for each lab table, and use it for each class). I also included a Powerpoint Slide of the organisms to display on the board.

The activity is designed to be student-centered. I usually have students work in groups, so they can bounce ideas off of one another. Once students are finished working through the packet, then the teacher should regroup the class, and facilitate a discussion to compare what the groups concluded.

The aim of the of the activity is to prime students' thinking for the topic of Evolution by Natural Selection.

Terms of Use
• This packet is 1 classroom/teacher use only. Do not make copies or
email it to your colleagues. This was designed by me and is for your
personal (one user)use. You may
not share it or claim it as your own. You may not redistribute it.
If colleagues are interested in it, please send them the link to my store:
• You are not permitted to use any part of this work to
create products for sharing or selling.
• You are permitted to share the cover image of the packet
on your website when referring to it in a post, as long as
you link back to my store.
All rights reserved by author.
Total Pages
7 pages
Answer Key
Teaching Duration
30 minutes
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