preparing for your visit: grades 9-12

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

Discussion Activity

Read (or distribute) this quote from Darwin:
"About thirty years ago there was much talk that geologists ought only to observe and not theorize; and I well remember someone saying that at this rate a man might as well go into a gravel-pit and count the pebbles and describe the colours. How odd it is that anyone should not see that all observation must be for or against some view if it is to be of any service!"
— Charles Darwin, letter to Henry Fawcett, 1861
Follow up with questions such as:
  • Why do you think that Darwin considered this odd?
  • Is counting and describing a useful scientific endeavor? Why or why not? What can you learn from this? What are the limitations?
  • What does this quote say about the state of science in Darwin's time? How do you think it has changed?

The Nature of Science

Share this guide's sidebar on "What is a Theory?" with your students. Provide discussion such as:
  • What is the difference between the way most people use the word "theory" and the way scientists use it?
  • What makes an idea testable?
  • What's the difference between a theory and a belief?

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, time, and adaptation.
  • What kinds of environmental changes might result in adaptation over time?
  • What happens to populations when they reach the limits to growth?
  • How do scientists determine that a new species has evolved?

References

Find activities related to the nature of science, adaptation, heredity, and diversity of organisms at:
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