Education: Evolution and Darwin For the Nation

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Bring Darwin2009 to your school or home no matter where you live! Explore essential concepts and topics in evolution through a variety of interactive activities and guided discussions, both in the classroom and at your local zoo and/or aviary.

   
   

Phipps Conservatory  Plants


Veggie Variation

Grades K-3
Concepts: species, variation, artificial selection, domestication

Veggie Variation: the domestication of the brassicas

Did you know that broccoli, kale, kohlrabi, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts are all members of the same species, Brassicaceae oleracea? Compare the veggies’ similarities and differences while learning how domestication or artificial selection acts upon the natural variation in a species. Have students pot a basil seed to discover its particular variety as it grows!

Download Lesson Plan for Grades K-3

 

Family Trees

All Grades (K-12)
Concepts: genetics, inheritance, traits, evolution

Explore the role of inheritance and asexual and sexual reproduction in evolution through plant life. Lectures, discussions and a variety of hands-on activities for different grade levels combine the ideas of Charles Darwin, Gregor Mendel and Reginald Punnett. More advanced students can plant a ‘genetic garden’ of Punnett squares, and discover how understanding genetics helps us to better understand evolution!

Plant Pyramids

 

Download Lesson Plan for Grades 4-12

 

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Aviary  Fossils


Fleshing Out Fossils

Grades 4-7
Concepts:
relatedness, comparative anatomy, common ancestor, evolution

In his trip around the world, Darwin studied fossils of extinct organisms and saw that they looked very similar to living organisms. This led him to realize that species change overtime, and all existing organisms descend from older ancestors! Students will actively learn about the connection between anatomy, evolution and common descent as they compare and contrast extinct ancestors to modern-day animals.

Download Lesson Plan for Grades 4-12

 

"Horse Evolution" Exploration Station

Grades 5-8
Concepts:
environmental pressures, adaptation, evolution

Did you know that horses used to be smaller than some birds? Discover the differences between horses and their earlier relatives, since they appeared about 60 million years ago! Using specially-designed fossil replicas, students can see, touch, and compare the modern horse foot to its ancestors’ and discover how environmental changes in North America impacted the evolution of the horse.

Find out more about the fossil replicas and how to purchase for your school!

Download Activity Guide

 

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Zoo  Animals


What Would I Do Without You? 

Grades 5-7
Concepts:
neutralism, competition, antagonism, predation, co-evolution and adaptation

Ever wonder why the zebra has black and white stripes? It’s not a fashion statement – rather, their stripes evolved for survival! Teach students about co-evolution and adaptation through the ecological relationship of predator-prey. Start your class in an unusual way, with a game of tag! This lesson plan also includes a guide for a trip to your local zoo.

Download Lesson Plan for Grades 5-7

Zoo – A Class System  

Grades 5-7
Concepts:
taxonomy, species, phylogenetic model, evolution

Sometimes it may seem like life is a mess, but scientists constantly struggle to organize organisms into meaningful categories. This effort led to some of the most revolutionary work in Biology, as with Darwin's principle of evolution! Instruct students in the criteria used to construct the taxonomic model, beginning with an exciting, interactive activity that demonstrates how everyday objects can be arranged. Students will see how both common and exotic animals fit into the same taxonomic system. If you can, take a trip to your local zoo where students can create their own classification system!

Download Lesson Plan for Grades 5-7

 

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Aviary  Birds


Feathered Families 

Grades 4-7
Concepts:
relatedness, species and speciation, adaptation, environmental influences, taxonomy

What makes a bird, a bird? Explore the many different species of birds and how they are classified, focusing specifically on birds of prey. A classroom activity compares and contrasts birds of prey and explains how their physical traits, diet and environment determine how closely related they are. Afterwards, engage students in a discussion about the conservation of threatened species. Help students write letters to Congress or a conservation organization explaining what they know about the influence of the environment on birds of prey and their opinion on habitat destruction/conservation.

Download Lesson Plan for Grades 4-7

Unique Beak Physique 

Grades K-6
Concepts:
natural selection, adaptation, favorable traits

You'll never look at beaks the same way again after exploring how Darwin's principle of natural selection has shaped the life of birds. Help your students discover how adaptations and favorable traits arose due to environmental factors. Using an interactive model of various beak shapes, students will be able to see how beaks have evolved to perform unique functions. An optional self-guided trip to your closest aviary helps to further expand upon the lesson’s concepts.

Download Lesson Plan for Grades 4-7

 

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Carnegie Science Center Technology-Based


Chatting with Darwin

Grades 3-6

If you could meet Darwin, what would you ask him? Now you can! With the revolutionary teaching tool Darwin Synthetic Interview, have a virtual conversation with Darwin and ask him up to 199 questions about his life and times, likes and dislikes, the discovery of evolution and much more! To complement Darwin’s answers, a roster of modern experts weigh in on several topics, including contemporary issues dealing with the principle of evolution and religion, environmental change and much more. Guide students through the Darwin Synthetic Interview DVD with discussions, exercises and extra material available in this Web Quest.

Find out more about the Darwin Synthetic Interview software and how to purchase it for your school!

Download Darwin SI Web quest for Grades 3-6

The Evolution of Metabolism: Puzzle Race

Grades 3-6

How many cells are in the human body? Millions of millions! How did life become the myriad of shapes and sizes we see today, from humans to fish and single-celled bacteria? Immerse students in the early life of ancient oceans through the movie “Our Cells, Our Selves” and explore the evolution of multi-cellular organisms, metabolism and the immune system. Afterwards, delve deeper into the concept of metabolism and have students participate in a “puzzle race” where they learn how different organisms have different levels of cell specialization.

Find out more about “Our Cells, Our Selves” and how to purchase for your school!

Download Lesson Plan for Grades 3-6
Download Puzzle Race Puzzles Download Puzzles
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Reading List Reading List


Suggested Reading List

Catch up on your reading with the Carnegie Library’s suggested titles on all things related to Darwin, evolution, and more! The featured books span all reading levels.

Download Suggested Reading List

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Darwin 2009: Exploration is Never Extinct!Presented by Regenerative Medicine Partnership in Education.


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Read about Darwin and Evolution

Darwin 2009: Exploration is Never Extinct!
Discover Darwin, his life and travels.
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What is evolution and how does it work?
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National Lesson Plans

All lesson plans below can be done in the classroom or at a museum or zoo near you! All lesson plans include a pre-visit lesson, a self-guided activity for the classroom or a museum of your choice.
To download the lesson right click on the link and "Save target as..."

Academic Standards

PA State Standards For
Science and Technoloy
National Science
Education Standards
National Science Education Standards

Phipps Conservatory

Veggie Variations
Grades K-3
Family Trees
Grades 4-12
Family Trees: Classroom
Experience - Grades 4-12

National Aviary

Unique Beak Physique
Grades K-6
Feathered Families
Grades 4-7

Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium

A Class System
Grades 5-7
What Would I Do With You
Grades 5-7

Carnegie Science Center

Darwin SI Web quest
Grades 3-6
Puzzle Race
Grades 3-6