Are you looking for a unique way to teach about the evidence of evolution? Are your students always asking about dinosaurs? This is a perfect lesson to introduce evidence of evolution with real scientific research!
Part 1: Background Information
One of the most important tasks as a biology teacher is to provide evidence that supports scientific theories. Evolution is the scientific theory that explains how organisms change over time. Scientists have discovered a number of different pieces of evidence that help to explain evolution. The following pieces of evidence are most commonly used to determine the common ancestry of different organisms.
- 1. Molecular Evidence through DNA
- 2. Fossil Record
- 3. Biogeography
- 4. Embryology
- 5. Anatomical Structures
If you would like more teaching resources over Evolution see the following links:
- UC Berkeley’s Understanding Evolution
- HHMI Biointeractive: free interactive activities and videos
- Teacher’s Institute for Evolutionary Science
Part 2: Introductory Videos
Students will watch this video and fill out the concept map linked on the student worksheet here.
Part 3: Matching and Observations Hands-On Activity
Using the student handout, students will cut out the pieces and try to match the correct bones. They will come up with as many similarities and differences as they can on the student handout. This would be a good time to discuss key anatomical vocabulary: Homologous structures are structures that evolved to have different functions, but the same anatomical structure. Analogous structures are structures that evolved to have the same function, but through different anatomical structures. Vestigial structures are structures that previously had a function, but are no longer needed.
Part 4: Reading Activity
Students should read the article “Where did flying reptiles come from?” from Science Journal for Kids. In this article, researchers analyzed fossils from different animals to determine how closely related they are. Have students answer the comprehension questions in class or for homework.
Audio version of the article
Part 5: Stations Extension
This is a great formative assessment activity! See this Google Slides Presentation. Make sure to make a copy to get an editable copy.
Print out the stations on different colored card stock. You can place the stations around the room and have students move around the room or place the stations in baskets and have the stations move. Some stations require some set up, such as cutting out individual pieces. Students will complete the answer key, which is located on slide two of the presentation. Each station should take about 6 minutes to complete.