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In this advanced 4-lesson curriculum unit, students examine evidence to compare four different explanations for why many malarial parasites are resistant to antimalarial drugs; investigate how scientific arguments using G6PD data show support for natural selection in humans; design an investigation using a simulation based on the Hardy-Weinberg principle to explore mechanisms of evolution; and apply their understanding to other alleles that have evolved in response to malaria.

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Grade level:

7 50-minute class periods

Teaching tips:
These lessons were designed for AP biology. A condensed lesson sequence is available.

Correspondence to the Next Generation Science Standards is indicated in parentheses after each relevant concept. See our conceptual framework for details.

  • Evolution results from selection acting upon genetic variation within a population. (LS4.B)

  • Traits that confer an advantage may persist in the population and are called adaptations. (LS4.B, LS4.C)

  • Inherited characteristics affect the likelihood of an organism's survival and reproduction. (LS4.B, LS4.C)

  • The amount of genetic variation within a population may affect the likelihood of survival of the population; the less the available diversity, the less likely the population will be able to survive environmental change.

  • Natural selection acts on the variation that exists in a population. (LS4.B, LS4.C)

  • Natural selection acts on phenotype as an expression of genotype.

  • Populations, not individuals, evolve.

  • Over time, the proportion of individuals with advantageous characteristics may increase (and the proportion with disadvantageous characteristics may decrease) due to their likelihood of surviving and reproducing. (LS4.B, LS4.C)

  • Evolution results from genetic drift acting upon genetic variation within a population.

  • A hallmark of science is exposing ideas to testing. (P3, P4, P6, P7)

  • Scientists test their ideas using multiple lines of evidence. (P6, NOS2)

  • Scientists use multiple research methods (experiments, observational research, comparative research, and modeling) to collect data. (P2, P3, P4, NOS1)

  • As with other scientific disciplines, evolutionary biology has applications that factor into everyday life.

  • There is variation within a population. (LS3.B)

  • Natural selection is dependent on environmental conditions.

  • Evolution occurs through multiple mechanisms.

Teacher background:

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