November 11, 2020

Lesson Plans

As part of the Darwin Day Roadshow, we are working to develop a collection of evolution-based lesson plans that K-12 teachers can freely download and implement in their classrooms. Lesson plans are designed to feature core evolutionary concepts as well as current research, and to meet learning standards at the state level (NC Essential Standards) and at the national level (Next Generation Science Standards). This collection will be growing, so continue to check back for updates!


Adaptations and Evolution (grades 8-12)

by Amanda Rossillo, PhD Candidate in Evolutionary Anthropology at Duke University

This lesson plan integrates concepts from evolutionary biology and paleontology to teach students about the adaptations of placental mammals: what they are, how they arise, the three different types of adaptations, and how to identify them from living animals and from skeletons. The lesson focuses on one type of adaptation known as a structural adaptation, and consists of a PowerPoint presentation followed by an activity worksheet. Students will engage with static images and virtual (or printed) 3D models of arm and hand bones of unidentified animals to identify the structural adaptations they see and discuss how they may help the animals survive. They then examine three closely related primate species to determine which hand seems better suited for a particular activity. After the identities of all of the animals are revealed to the students, they reflect on their experiences through the final questions on the worksheet and watch a short YouTube video to learn about how paleontologists address the difficulties the students may have faced. Access the Adaptations and Evolution lesson plan here.