preparing for your visit: grades 5-8

The following activities are designed to help you and your students make the most of your visit to the Darwin exhibition.

Darwin's Great Question

Read this story told by Niles Eldredge, curator of the Darwin exhibition, aloud to your students:
Darwin returned from the Beagle voyage with a question: what keeps one plant or animal from over-populating the planet and living everywhere? Take elephants, a species he was familiar with. Suppose a pair were to mate and have a couple of babies. Those babies would grow up to have their own offspring, the cycle would go on and on, and the elephant population would explode. But since the world isn't neck to neck with elephants, Darwin realized that something in nature must limit population growth.
Follow up with questions such as:
  • What things do you think limit the elephant's population?
  • What are some general factors that would tend to limit all populations?
  • Why do you think it was helpful for Darwin to pick an animal that he was familiar with?

Natural Selection

Share the sidebar in this guide on "How Does Natural Selection Work?" with your students. Discuss the fundamentals of natural selection: variation, inheritance, selection, and time, leading to adaptation. Ask questions such as, what does it mean that family members may resemble each other? What about the fact that classmates may look very different from one another? What purpose does competition between members of a species serve? How does variation within a species affect the outcome of this competition? What are some examples from nature that show this process at work?

Geologic Time Activity

Evolution often involves the passage of vast amounts of time. Understanding Geologic Time helps students grasp that concept by researching and presenting different time periods in Earth's history. Print out and distribute the PDF available at http://amnh.org/education/resources/rfl/pdf/dino_10_time.pdf and guide your students through the related activity.

Internet Activity

Have students visit the Animals, Adaptation, & the Galàpagos Science Explorations website at http://teacher.scholastic.com/activities/explorations/adaptation/. This activity engages students in some of the most important aspects of being a scientist: observation, finding patterns in nature, and developing theories by considering evidence. Encourage students to keep a field journal while they complete the activities. The site then provides instructions for writing science reports or giving PowerPoint presentations.. This activity engages students in some of the most important aspects of being a scientist: observation, finding patterns in nature, and developing theories by considering evidence. Encourage students to keep a field journal while they complete the activities. The site then provides instructions for writing science reports or giving PowerPoint presentations.

References

Find activities related to the nature of science, adaptation, heredity, and diversity of organisms at:
SEARCH SITE MAP FAQ COPYRIGHT INFO PRIVACY POLICY ROSE CENTER CONTACT US SIGN UP FOR AMNH ENOTES Darwin Online Educator's Guide Photo of Charles Darwin