Aloha Everyone, I currently teach 7th grade Life Science in an inclusion setting. I currently have higher level functioning students with very low functioning students. I am about to teach "Evolution" to my 7th grade inclusion students and wanted to ask what types of hands on projects have you done in your classroom on Evolution? My students would definitely learn more by having hands on projects instead of hearing me lecture. If you would be willing to share your ideas and projects with me, I would appreciate it! Thanks!

Randall Shinn
Randall Shinn
510 Activity Points

Hi Randall and welcome to the NLC discussion threads! Adah S. has a great collection of resources that you might want to check out: The Case For Evolution Collection. "The Finches' Beaks: Introducing Evolutionary Concepts" article explains a paper and pencil activity that might get you started. It is listed in her collection. And the article, "Extreme Arthropods: Exploring Evolutionary Adaptations to Polar and Temperate Deserts" might be engaging for your students. Also, check out the two other discussion threads in the Life Science Discussion Forum that contain the word evolution. There are several other resources shared there that may be helpful to you as you plan your 7th grade unit.

Carolyn Mohr
Carolyn Mohr
86463 Activity Points

Hi Randall, First of all, I apologize. I haven't read all of the responses to your questions so excuse me if someone already posted this idea. The one activity that I continue to do every year is one which shows the "evolution" of the first single celled organism through humans (complex multi-cellular organisms). It involves using 5 meters worth of adding machine tape. Students use their math skills in this exercise as they need to convert time into meters, cm and mm using a given conversation table. Long story short, they mark on the strip of paper at end "earth" that was formed so many millions of years ago (every meter = 10 million years ago)-I'm going off the top of my head so I could have the numbers wrong but if you lotus me I can send over the worksheet to you..After plotting all of the points (earth formed, first bacteria - single cell, protists, etc..) students will be able to see that "life" on Earth as a whole is really quite new (as all of the plots will be closer to the "today" end of the strip). It is a SUPER visual when it comes to students seeing the time it took for living things to evolve, especially because the gap between the first single celled organisms until the first multi-celled organisms is quite significant and that humans are closest to the "today" end of the strip versus the majority of the other living things. Being that you are teaching an inclusion class, this would be great for all levels especially if the highs are mixed with the lows. Maybe the highs could do the measuring and the lows could do the labeling and maybe even draw or cut out pictures to match the organisms?

Rochelle Tamiya
Rochelle Tamiya
4085 Activity Points

When I was a student teacher, my mentor had the students do a several week long project where they grew corn plants. It was a good project because it connected punnett squares AND evolution in a way that students could see it in action. What he did was he had corn seeds from plants that came from two heterozygous parent plants that had normal/albino colored leaves (which if you know your punnett squares would result in 75% of those seeds being normal and 25% being albino). Well basically they made a punnett square for that and the numbers came up similar to the 3:1 ratio. How this relates to evolution is that the kids were able to actually see how certain genes are selected for in a population because they have a higher rate of survival. In this case, normal green colored leaves survived better because they were able to capture sunlight and survive, while albino seeds didn't survive very long because they couldn't do photosynthesis. I thought that was a great way to connect so many concepts and benchmarks into one project. It tied in genetics, evolution, and photosynthesis all in one.

Loren Nomura
Loren Nomura
4055 Activity Points

I provide the students 4 sets of homologous structure pictures, but the pictures come from the same animals. The sets include pictures of various "legs", "hearts", "lungs", and "mouths". Each group of students has to arrange each set of pictures in the order they think they would have evolved in. I then display the groups of pictures on my SMARTBoard and have the groups show their arrangements. They have to explain why they arranged things in that order. The groups are able to ask questions of each other and debate what order things should be in. Then I tell them what animals the pictures came from and see how that changes their hypothesis of the order. It is a good way to engage the students in more abstract thinking about how scientists are determining the order of evolution. I then tie in genetics and explain how scientists are now using DNA to learn more about how organisms evolve.

Katherine Willet
Katherine Zimmerman
21310 Activity Points

I suppose the best suggestion is to narrow down your focus. Evolution is a broad area to study. Do your standards simply ask students to compare/contrast fossils to living creatures? Do they refer to natural selection? Do they talk about geographic or reproductive isolation? Genetic drift? Random variations?

The University of Indiana has some great stuff here. I like using Caminalcules myself. They are cards illustrated with fake creatures which can be divided into families. I give students almost an entire pack of Caminalcules and ask them to create a phylogeny (I have HS, so your mileage may vary). Once they are done, they get another card ("a newly discovered fossil") which they must integrate into their scheme. It usually wrecks their scheme. Then once they realign their scheme, we do a gallery walk. If you have a document camera, you can project each groups scheme and discuss the particulars.

I have a fair number of evolution lessons which could be adapted for MS. Let me know what your focus is, and I'll give you what I have!

P

Perry Schlanger
Perry Schlanger
390 Activity Points

One lab I have done that 7th graders would enjoy and might learn something from...it is messy though. You start out with like 15 students. On one side of the class room you have your food source...I used a bowl with a mixture of different kinds of beans. On the other side you have your fifteen kids. 5 kids get a spoon, 5 a fork and 5 a knife. When you say go they have to run across the room, get food and bring it back to their bowl on their side of the room. They get like 30 seconds and then the 7 with the most food live and reproduce, the other 8 die. The offspring will have the same type of utensil as their parents. The knives die out quickly, eventually the spoons win out. I'll see if i can find the lab write up tomorrow!

Chris Leverington
Chris Leverington
4015 Activity Points

I like some of the lessons on the ENSI website http://www.indiana.edu/~ensiweb/evol.fs.html there are evolution activities as well as other interesting things that you could use for your middle schoolers.

Gerry Clarin
Gerry Clarin
2125 Activity Points

I always enjoy teaching earth's history and evolution. One of my favorite activities is for students to use a variety of different tools that resemble different bird beaks. They have to figure what beak would be better to use on different types of food. Students really have a lot fun and get the concept competition for food.

Kathryn Mattila
Kathryn Mattila
2625 Activity Points

I taught evolution when I student taught and I focused mainly on the evolution of human beings. I noticed there were more and more students that had religious beliefs that excused them from that unit of science, and I decided to change the structure of how I taught evolution. Now I focus more on the evolution of organisms as a whole, like the honeycreepers and Darwin's finches. I found that since I have changed the structure of the unit, I no longer have any students that say they cannot learn about evolution. I did the activity that used the printer tape and the students enjoyed it. But the tape needed to be SOOOOO long and we had a hard time putting up the printer tape after we put the tiles on them. Now I do more activities like the fork, spoon, and knife game that resembles the honeycreepers and finches. The students can make the connection between the game and the concepts easier and they seem to really enjoy it. I would appreciate different activities to do with the students that I have not tried before.

Tina Alcain
Tina Alcain
3305 Activity Points

Hi everyone! Thank you so much for your input on evolution. I appologize for not making it specific in the first place. After reading through everyone's comments, I believe that I can now start designing my unit on Evolution by starting off with Charles Darwin and how the finches have evolved using the bird beak lab. I do like the idea of using the tape to show the geological timeline, using pictures of homologous structures and tying in DNA to tie in genetics. These are all great ideas and wanted to thank you all again for your input!

Randall Shinn
Randall Shinn
510 Activity Points

Check out the PBS evolution site as well. There are great videos and activities!

Anne Cecil
Anne Cecil
675 Activity Points

Thanks! I will check out the PBS website and hope to find some things on natural selection. For some reason, my students are hvaing difficulties with this concept and hope that the PBS site has some excellent resources for my special need students.

Randall Shinn
Randall Shinn
510 Activity Points

Thanks! I will check out the PBS website and hope to find some things on natural selection. For some reason, my students are hvaing difficulties with this concept and hope that the PBS site has some excellent resources for my special need students.

Randall Shinn
Randall Shinn
510 Activity Points

I've always struggled with Cladograms...any good teaching ideas, activities that deal with cladograms?

Chris Leverington
Chris Leverington
4015 Activity Points

I did the above fork, spoon, and knife activity today with my 10th graders. They enjoyed it and I think it really shows how populations change over time. Also, I found some little fuzz balls (I call them poms) at Staples that aren't as messy as using beans. Thanks for the idea :)

Rebekah Carter
Rebekah Case
220 Activity Points

I taught evolution when I student taught and I focused mainly on the evolution of human beings. I noticed there were more and more students that had religious beliefs that excused them from that unit of science, and I decided to change the structure of how I taught evolution. Now I focus more on the evolution of organisms as a whole, like the honeycreepers and Darwin's finches. I found that since I have changed the structure of the unit, I no longer have any students that say they cannot learn about evolution. I did the activity that used the printer tape and the students enjoyed it. But the tape needed to be SOOOOO long and we had a hard time putting up the printer tape after we put the tiles on them. Now I do more activities like the fork, spoon, and knife game that resembles the honeycreepers and finches. The students can make the connection between the game and the concepts easier and they seem to really enjoy it. I would appreciate different activities to do with the students that I have not tried before. Tina, I agree with you teaching evolution of human being can be very tough and controversial in the school setting. I think the activity with the printer tape sounds like a great hands-on activity.Even though it might get complicated because of the length of the tape. I've never heard of the game you mentioned with the fork, spoon, and knife but it sounds interesting.

Doris Padilla
Doris Padilla
3345 Activity Points

It does irk me a little that teachers shy away from teaching human evolution because its controversial. One of the biggest reasons for the "controversy" is lack of education. We need to be teaching them the science behind all aspects of evolution and not shy away from certain parts because we don't want to deal with the problems that come with it. (I'm not criticizing the people on here, there are 2 biology teachers at my school that refuse to discuss it, but stick to the more acceptable forms of evolution (dogs, bacteria). The biggest thing is clearing up the misconception that humans evolved from monkeys. You could survey most sophomore biology classes(or probably most adults) and ask where did humans come from and you would get either a) god or b) monkeys which is completely false :(

Chris Leverington
Chris Leverington
4015 Activity Points

Hello all,

One of the resources that I have found invaluable for me when I teach evolution is The NSTA Toolkit for Teaching Evolution. The e-book is free to NSTA members. It gives great ideas and activities to use with your biology classes and presents the information in a sensitive fashion.

Ruth Hutson
Ruth Hutson
63530 Activity Points

We put together a timeline of Earth's Geological History to set the stage. Mostly the when and why life evolved.

Carol McKenna
Carol McKenna
1035 Activity Points

HHMI and BioInteractive have just release a couple of new simulations to teach students about population genetics, the Hardy-Weinberg principle, and how natural selection alters the frequency distribution of heritable traits. The activity complements the short film "The Making of the Fittest: Natural Selection in Humans." Download the Teacher Materials: http://bit.ly/IHudMN and Student Materials: http://bit.ly/J86xQv

Pamela Auburn
Pamela Auburn
68525 Activity Points

HHMI and BioInteractive have just release a couple of new simulations to teach students about population genetics, the Hardy-Weinberg principle, and how natural selection alters the frequency distribution of heritable traits. The activity complements the short film "The Making of the Fittest: Natural Selection in Humans." Download the Teacher Materials: http://bit.ly/IHudMN and Student Materials: http://bit.ly/J86xQv This is a nice little animation on natural selection http://www.hhmi.org/biointeractive/evolution/lactose_tolerance_selection.html

Pamela Auburn
Pamela Auburn
68525 Activity Points

This video from the HHMI describes the fossil record leading to modern humans http://www.hhmi.org/biointeractive/evolution/Skeletons/01.html

Pamela Auburn
Pamela Auburn
68525 Activity Points

This video talks about the process of science in understanding human evolution http://www.hhmi.org/biointeractive/evolution/Scientific_Process/01.html I really like this and plan to use the bean demonstration

Pamela Auburn
Pamela Auburn
68525 Activity Points

Thank you for creating this thread! I've heard of the lesson with the beans except it was using tweezers (Forceps), spoon and knife (bird beak evolution) but I like the lesson using the relay idea in order to motivate the kinesthetic learner and all students as it promotes a chance to get out of their seats ;0). I think I will add this one to my evolution unit. I also enjoyed reading all of the comments about the controvesy in teaching evolution as many students DO believe in a higher being as the creator of all things. I've spoken to another colleague of mine about this issue and she had a great way of addressing it. Instead of avoiding it, she mentions that it is a great way to speak of it in terms of the basis of all science, it cannot be proven to NOT exist so it is still a theory, unlike the theory of evolution and genetics/heredity, where there is evidence that supports this theory. One can be "proven" with evidence, the other, cannot be disproven. I thought that was a great comeback to the issue. BTW...did I send you the information sheet that I used for the tape measure lab? I usually have students pair up so as not to waste paper....it is worth it though as it gives students a great visual. The activity explains evolution over time a lot better than trying to teach them something that they have to visualize in their heads...gives a "big picture"/overall picture scenario that is a great opening for more to come.

Rochelle Tamiya
Rochelle Tamiya
4085 Activity Points

I came across this website of resources for teaching evolution http://www.evolution-of-life.com/en/home.html This web site was created to celebrate these events and provide the general public, students and teachers with entertaining explorations of life’s origin and evolution.

Pamela Auburn
Pamela Auburn
68525 Activity Points

Hi Mr. Shinn! Just wanted to say thanks for being such a great teacher for my daughter Mikele. I know she misses you! Sounds like you got some awesome plans coming along for your 7th graders. Keep up the good work.

Kellee Kelly
Kellee Kelly
7800 Activity Points

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