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Lesson Plans

Below are well-vetted lesson plans dealing with human evolution that the Understanding Evolution website has generously allowed us to link to. We will continue to post new lesson plans.

Alike but Not the Same (Grades 9-12)

Students conduct a classwide inventory of human traits, construct histograms of the data they collect, and play a brief game that introduces students to major concepts related to human genetic variation and the notion of each individual's uniqueness.

Comparison of Human and Chimp Chromosomes (Grades 9-12)

Students observe that the banding patterns seen on stained chromosomes from humans and chimpanzees show striking similarities. Possible evolutionary relationships are explored, as are the chromosomes and relationships of other apes.

Nuts and bolts classification: Arbitrary or not? (Grades 6-8)

Students work in teams, classify furniture, share categories/rationales, and note how their different schemes are logical and useful, but vary and are completely arbitrary. They then see how living organisms are classified and note how these natural groupings reflect the same ancestral relationships in the same nested hierarchies. The concept is exemplified using primate phylogenetic trees.

The Checks Lab (Grades 9-12)

Students construct plausible scenarios using bank checks to learn how human values and biases influence observation and interpretation.

The Meaning of Genetic Variation (Grades 9-12)

Students investigate variation in the beta globin gene by identifying base changes that do and do not alter function, and by using several internet-based resources to consider the significance in different environments of the base change associated with sickle cell disease.