Browse Activities: Nature of science | Patterns and processes of evolution | Cladistics/Phylogenetics/Speciation | Geologic time | Papers for discussion

Here are several activities that teachers can use to teach concepts about evolution. See also Resources.

Nature of Science

CONPTT - Science vs. Non-science
This activity compares "Emerging Science," "Non-Science," and "Pseudoscience" and engages students in analyzing a collection of paragraphs to decide which category each fits into. Grades 9-12.

In learning more about dinosaur behavior, students will gain an understanding of the processes involved in using direct evidence and inferences in order to make hypotheses about past events in Earth's history. Grades 6-12.

Dinosaur Tracks: From Stride to Leg Length to Speed
Students will use actual data collected from dinosaur track pads and fossils to interpolate the speed data for bipedal dinosaurs. Grades 9-12.

The Flat Earth
Students are challenged to provide the evidence for a spherical earth and for a flat earth, to discuss the relative strengths of the evidence, and to reach conclusions. They look at the nature of science and pseudoscience, and examine the "flat earth" idea in that context. Grades 7-12.

Introducing Inquiry and the Nature of Science
Introduces basic procedures involved in inquiry and concepts describing the nature of science. Grades 5-12.

It's All In The Rocks
Students identify facts and inferences that are possible when examining sedimentary layers with embedded fossils. Grades 7-12.

Of Sunsets, Souls and Senses
This activity explores the realm and limits of science. It engages students to give examples of topics that can be studied by science and topics that cannot. Grades 7-12.

Proposing Explanations for Fossil Footprints
In this activity, students observe and interpret "fossil footprint" evidence. From the evidence, they construct defensible hypotheses for events that took place in the geological past. Grades 5-8.

Proposing the Theory of Biological Evolution
To view evolution from an historical perspective, students read short excerpts of original statements on evolution from Jean Lamarck, Charles Darwin, and Alfred Russell Wallace. Grades 9-12.

Theory, Theory
This activity compares five proposed explanations for how diverse life came into existence on Earth. Each theory is compared and evaluated. Grades 9-12.

Where Can I See the Sea?
Students use fossil evidence to make inferences about past ecosystems. Grades 5-8.


Patterns and Processes of Evolution

An Invitation to Inquiry on Natural Selection
This activity uses the concept of natural selection to introduce the idea of formulating and testing scientific hypotheses. Grades 5-8.

Connecting Population Growth and Biological Evolution
This investigation provides an excellent opportunity for considering the population growth of plant and animal species and the resultant stresses that contribute to natural selection. Grades 5-12.

Investigating Natural Selection
In this activity, students experience a mechanism for evolution through a simulation that models the principles of natural selection. Grades 9-12.

Macro-Evolution: Patterns & Trends
Fossil shells of a species of land snail are arranged by layers of age into a sequence pattern suggesting gradual change, or punctuated equilibria. Grades 9-12.



Classroom Cladogram of Vertebrate/Human Evolution
Students prepare a Colossal Classroom Cladogram of vertebrate evolution to dramatize the evidence that we (and in fact all living things) didn't suddenly pop into existence, but clearly evolved by accumulating traits over vast periods of time. Grades 9-12.

Investigating Common Descent
In this activity, students formulate explanations and models that simulate structural and biochemical data as they investigate the misconception that humans evolved from apes. Grades 9-12.

Island Biogeography and Evolution: Solving a Phylogenetic Puzzle Using Molecular Genetics
Students use multiple lines of evidence to determine the phylogeny of three species of lizards on the Canary Islands. Grades 9-12.

Solving the Mystery of the Neandertals
An interactive and engaging activity that compares the number of mutations in the mitochondrial genomes to determine ancestry and relatedness. Grades 9-12.

Studying Fossils
Early hominid evolution is "discovered" by students as they analyze bones that share characteristics of both apes and humans. Grades 7-12.

Studying Species by Examining the Evolution of the Canidae Family
This activity is designed to enhance students' knowledge of the definition of species and phylogenetics. Grades 9-10.


Geologic Time

Determining Age of Rocks and Fossils
This activity will help students to have a better understanding of the basic principles of radiometric age dating. Grades 9-12.

Sequencing Time
This activity provides a good understanding of relative and absolute dating and an introduction to the geologic time scale. Grades 5-10.

Understanding Geologic Time
This is a web-based interactive module that gives students a better understanding of relative and absolute dating and provides an introduction to the Geologic Time Scale. Grades 5-10.

Virtual Age Dating
This is an interactive tutorial for teaching about radioactive decay and isochron dating. Grades 9-12.


Papers for Discussion

The De-riving Force of Cladogenesis
Clear and concise explanation of the terminology of the concepts and terminology of cladistics.
Andrew J. Petto, University of the Arts, and Editor of RNCSE
From Reports of the National Center for Science Education (RNCSE) May/June 1999.

Evolution: Variation is the Theme
Focus on heritable variations in DNA and speciation, forensics, genetic engineering; horizontal transfer (gene-hopping); antibiotic resistance, drug discoveries.
Marta L. Wayne, University of Florida
For the symposium presented by the Society for the Study of Evolution, "Building the Web of Life: Evolution in Action": NABT Fort Worth, October 1999.

Applied Evolution: Technology for the 21st Century
A sampling of the many practical applications and major importance of evolution.
James Bull, University of Texas at Austin
For the symposium presented by the Society for the Study of Evolution, "Building the Web of Life: Evolution in Action": NABT Fort Worth, October 1999

Patterns and Processes of Macroevolution - Examples from Dinosaurs
Problems mapping macroevolutionary patterns; radiation of living dinosaurs: birds; humans as the most severe cause of dinosaurian (bird) extinction today.
Timothy Rowe, University of Texas at Austin
For the symposium presented by the Society for the Study of Evolution "Building the Web of Life: Evolution in Action": NABT Fort Worth, October 1999.

Why Evolution Matters
Stephen R. Palumbi, Harvard University
Presented for the Society for the Study of Evolution at the "Teaching Evolution" Symposium: NABT Reno, November 1998.

Macroevolution: Evolution on a Big Scale
David Jablonski, University of Chicago
Presented for the Society for the Study of Evolution at the "Teaching Evolution" Symposium: NABT Reno, November 1998.

Twelve Lines of Evidence for Evolution of Humans and Other Primates
Martin Nickels, Anthropology Program, Illinois State University
Presented at NABT Convention, Reno NV, November 1998, and again in Fort Worth, TX, October 1999.

TOP forward

Credits button UCMP logo Copyright symbol