Understanding Evolution

Classroom Activities

Jump to topic:

Nature of Science   •   Evolution and the History of Life
Understanding Geologic Time   •   Mechanisms of Evolution

Nature of Science

Not Just a Theory
Evolution is often challenged by those who oppose its teaching or do not understand it. One of these challenges is that evolution is just a theory. This activity addresses this misconception. Grades 9-12

The Great Fossil Find
Students are taken on an imaginary fossil hunt through which they uncover evidence, pose hypotheses, and modify these hypotheses as new evidence is uncovered. Grades 5-12

Evolution and the History of Life

Inferring Ancient Environments
Students will use actual data sets from core samples of foraminifera in order to reconstruct ancient environments. Grades 7-9

Getting Into the Fossil Record
A web-based module designed for students to gain a basic understanding of what a fossil is and the factors involved in becoming part of the fossil record. Grades 5-12

Stories From the Fossil Record
A web-based module designed to provide students with a basic understanding of how fossils can be used to interpret the past. There are four different pathways to explore: biodiversity, geologic time, paleoecology and past lives. Grades 5-12
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Understanding Geologic Time

Sequencing Time
An activity designed to increase student understanding relative and numerical time and the methods used by scientists to develop the Geologic Time Scale. Grades 5-10

What Came First
Students gain an understanding of "deep time" and become familiar with events in the Earth's history and how they relate to one another. Grades 5-12

Radiometric Dating:
Two activities designed to increase student understanding of the basic principles used to determine the age of rocks and fossils.

— How Old Is It? Grades 5-8 (coming soon!)
Determining Age of Rocks and Fossils Grades 9-12

Understanding Geologic Time
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
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The Mechanisms of Evolution

Clip Birds
This activity simulates evolution within a species. It can be used to illustrate the four primary components necessary for evolution-variation, selection, inheritance and time. Changes in selective pressures within the environment can lead to speciation. Grades 6-12

What Did T. rex Taste Like?
A web-based module that introduces cladistics, the most commonly used method of classification today. Cladistics organizes living things by common ancestry and evolutionary relationships, enabling us to better understand life's present diversity and evolutionary history. Grades 7-12

Anolis Lizards of the Greater Antilles
Students use multiple lines of evidence (morphological, geographical, molecular) to develop and test hypotheses using phylogeny. Grades 7-12