back in the classroom

Here are questions and activities for your students to explore and to extend their understanding of Darwin and evolution.

Grades K-4

  • Visit the Tree of Life Cladogram on the Museum's OLogy website (http://ology.amnh.org/biodiversity/treeoflife/). Have students explore the activity. Ask them to reflect on how scientists sort animals into different groups.
  • Ask your students to research a particular animal that lives in its natural environment. What physical characteristics help it survive?
  • What did the exhibition explain about what scientists do?
  • Ask your students how parents and children are alike and different? What similarities are inherited? Which are learned?

Grades 5-8


Darwin's magnifying glass - Click to enlarge
Darwin's magnifying glass
(click to enlarge)
©AMNH
  • Visit the website Science Explorations: Zoom In on Insects (http://teacher.scholastic.com/activities/
    explorations/bug/index.htm
    ). Have students explore the interactive. Ask them to reflect on how scientists classify organisms into different groups.
  • Based on what you saw at the exhibition, what were Darwin's greatest contributions to natural science? What questions remain?
  • Ask students to consider why there is such an amazing diversity of species on Earth. How do species acquire many of their unique characteristics?
  • Artificial selection occurs when humans breed certain species to enhance or diminish specific traits. Can your students think of some examples? How does this process mimic or differ from natural selection?
  • What are the big unknowns in science today? What might your students study if they hope to revolutionize science the way Darwin did in the 19th century?
  • Visit the website Science Explorations: Animals, Adaptation & the Galapagos (http://teacher.scholastic.com/activities/explorations/adaptation/). Have students complete the interactives. Ask them to describe some of the ways that animals adapt to their environments.

Grades 9-12

  • Visit the Spectrum of Life interactive on the Museum's website (http://www.amnh.org/exhibitions/hall_tour/spectrum/flash/). Have students explore the activity and reflect on how scientists classify organisms into different groups.
  • What do your students identify as the most compelling evidence of the predictive power of the theory of natural selection?
  • Ask students to name some practical applications of the theory of natural selection. What effect have they had on our lives?
  • New evolutionary discoveries are being made every day. Have your students read and summarize an article on a recent discovery in evolutionary biology (e.g. a fossil find, medical development, conservation issue, or genetic research).
For more specific activities to use in your classroom, visit http://www.amnh.org/resources/exhibitions/darwin/educators

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