Worksheets and lesson ideas to challenge students aged 11 to 16 to think hard about evolution and adaptation (GCSE and Key Stage 3)
Evolution by natural selection is a fantastically exciting topic area. It offers enormous opportunities to think, debate and reconsider current thinking. Students will enter your classroom with a range of different experiences and ideas about evolution. Some will be vehemently opposed to accepting the theory of evolution by natural selection, citing the reason that “it is just a theory“.
However, try to move away from general debate and focus on the evidence. Students should be provided with the opportunity to see for themselves why science accepts the ideas outlined by Darwin, comparing DNA sequences can help.
When teaching evolution, it can be helpful to distinguish between (i) evolution i.e. change in populations and species over time and (ii) natural selection, the mechanism behind evolution. This excellent OneZoom tree of life explorer is well worth a visit as is this video which provides a fantastic example of natural selection in action. Where possible explain evolution with reference to an actual example. Evolution by natural selection really involves three key ideas:
- There is variation in the population of a trait
- The trait is heritable
- There are differences in the reproductive success of individuals with that trait
Thinking deeply about evolution
Thinking questions on evolution. So you think you understand evolution? Use these questions with your class to explore and challenge their understanding of evolutionary biology. They can consider these questions together and then chose one to explore as an essay. (PDF)
Misconceptions about evolution
Check out this page from the University of Berkeley on evolution misconceptions
- Evidence for evolution
- Evolution by natural selection
- Selective breeding