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Lesson Plans


Elementary School:

Tree of Life:
Recommended Grade Level: 5th
Submitted by Kathy Gerst 
This 6-day activity reinforces the student's comprehension of evolutionary diversity and the ability to conduct basic research. Students are asked to research the ways in which animals are related to another and how their characteristics have arisen throughout time; the project culminates in the students' presentation of a "Tree" that illustrates the evolutionary information gained through their research.


Dichotomous Keys:
Recommended Grade Levels: 3rd-6th 
Submitted by Ming Huang

This activity allows students to practice their observational skills, enabling them to recognize patterns and common characteristics among organisms. This activity introduces students to a scientific technique used to classify and identify organisms.


Recommended Grade Levels: 1st-3rd
Developed by Tuan Cao

This activity is designed to teach students the fundamentals of pollination, including basic methods of plant reproduction and the role of animals as pollinators in plant reproduction.



Middle School:

Recommended Grade Levels: 7th-9th
Submitted by Jessica Cantrell

This approximately 2-hour long exercise hone's the student's ability to use a microscope. Students learn microscope-related vocabulary and how to use a microscope's various parts in order to view various specimens.


Wildlife Track Ornaments:
Recommended Grade Levels:  5th-7th
Submitted by Aletris Neils

This activity provides students with a context to connect with and admire nature.  Students search the area around their school (playground, school perimeter) for animal tracks in addition to consulting field guides with track pictures, then use these materials to create a 3-D model of a track of their choice. 

Bird Buffet:
Recommended Grade Level: 8th
Submitted by Lynn Crew

This activity illustrates variation of a particular trait in a population.  Artificial food stations are set up around the classroom, in teams of two students select a "beak" to work with and cycle through each of the stations using their beaks to collect as much "food" as possible.  After students have had time to experiment with different beaks students discuss which beaks were best at acquiring food at different stations.

Natural Selection with Beans:
Recommended Grade Level: 8th
Submitted by Lynn Crew

This activity is designed to demonstrate the effects of natural selection.  Students begin the activity with a "population" of beans then simulate the effects of natural selection on this population throughout subsequent generations.  By collecting data and creating graphs, students are able to analyze and draw conclusions with supporting evidence.

High School: 


Phylogenetics and Bioinformatics:
Recommended Grade Levels: 9th-12th
Submitted by Joseph Ahlander
This activity introduces students to the concept of phylogenetics, urging them to critically think about the traits that differentiate animals from one another. Students are then asked to use bioinformatic websites to compare protein and DNA sequences and use the results to construct phylogenies.

Differential Reproduction
Submitted by Margaret Wilch
In this activity students investigate how differences in resource availability affect the survival of individuals within a population. Students simulate different phenotypes of a single bird species, in the form of various beak and body sizes.  Differences in resource availability changes through generations as a result of environmental variations and subsequently has an affect on the survival of the different phenotypes.  Students investigate this relationship as they collect and analyze data from this activity.

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