Digital Resource Package for Teaching Evolution

Following is a sample of the more than 9000 resources specific to teaching evolution that you can find by conducting a simple search on NSDL.org. You can also browse for resources in our interactive Living Environment AAAS Science Literacy Map to find resources for the whole K-12 spectrum. Specific for K-6 teachers, you can find professional development resources related to Evolution in our Science Refreshers page

  1. Evolution This role-play activity demonstrates how natural selection plays a large role in the evolution of species.
  2. Evolution game This is an interactive application suitable for upper elementary students and older to experience how evolution works. It's based in the real example of the butterfly Biston betularia as reported in the UK.
  3. Evidence for Evolution In this Evolution WebQuest from Teachers' Domain, high school students will investigate a variety of types of evidence for evolution.
  4. Darwiniana and Evolution This site offers links to articles, essays, papers, letters, and photos related to Charles Darwin, the father of evolutionary biology. Topics include evolution, theology, race, and natural selection.
  5. Evolution Revolution From the Evolution Web site, explore the rise of a revolutionary idea and the controversies that surround it. This is an interactive resource for high school students from the Teachers' Domain collections.
  6. Protein Evolution In this interactive activity for advanced students, students explore the evolution of proteins by comparing 2D and 3D alignments of orthologs and paralogs. It includes an assessment component.
  7. Evolution of Camouflage This video segment for grades 3 to 12 from Evolution: "Darwin's Dangerous Idea," illustrates the remarkable camouflage of a praying mantis against its leafy backdrop. This resource includes discussion questions and transcript.
  8. Evolution on Double Time This document, excerpt from Evolution: The Triumph of an Idea, by Carl Zimmer, describes how gene duplication may have been the key to the rapid evolution of the early stages of life on Earth.
  9. Evolution Outreach Projects This collection of materials and suggestions is intended to appeal to younger students and to biology teachers who may have met resistance when teaching evolution. These materials, some humorous or satirical in nature, include posters, stickers, and slides; online resources for teachers; a tutorial on the evolution of the Galapagos tortoise; and links to pro-evolution websites.
  10. Microbial Evolution and Systematics This resource includes a simulation of the evolution timeline. The major topics included in the set of undergraduate course notes are: Physical Evolution of Earth; Origin of Life on Earth; Early Evolution of Organisms with Increasing Complexity; Atmospheric Oxygen; Classification; Molecular Approaches to Phylogeny; and an Overview of Bacteria, Archaea and Eukarya. The notes include several outlinks to additional sources of information. (Takes awhile to download; but worth the wait...).
  11. Misconceptions and how to address them

  12. Misconceptions about Evolution and the Mechanisms of Evolution This resource will help teachers deal with several common misconceptions about evolution.
  13. Voices for Evolution Some forms of creationism hold that natural biological processes cannot account for the history, diversity, and complexity of life on earth. This section of the National Center for Science Education website offers articles about anti-evolution creationist movements, critiques of creationist writings, and collections of materials on the leading lawsuits over efforts to teach creationism or to undermine the teaching of evolution in public schools.
  14. Understanding Evolution for Teachers This website was designed to teach evolution to teachers and explain common misconceptions, while providing guidance and tools for teaching evolution in the classroom and avoiding some of the pitfalls of the evolution "debate." Topics include the history of evolution, the evidence for evolution, evolution in the news, and lesson plans and conceptual frameworks that can be used by educators.
  15. Lesson plans

  16. Understanding Evolution This site provides access to basic and advanced online resources (K-16) for teaching the science and history of evolutionary biology. The resources are organized by topic: the mechanisms of evolution; the relevance of evolutionary theory to everyday life; lines of scientific evidence; and the history of ideas, research, and contributors in the study of evolution. For teachers, there are searchable databases of lesson plans, activities, and conceptual frameworks on the history of life, evidence for evolution, mechanisms of evolution, and the nature of science. Other materials include links to news items and highlighted features on specific evolution topics.
  17. Evolution Lessons This collection of middle and high school lessons from the Evolution and the Nature of Science Institute (ENSI) focus on evolution. Each title is an active link to the named activity. The site also contains links to synopses for all of the lessons and a statement on the appropriate grade level for the lessons.
  18. Evolution Teaching Modules These are stand-alone modules (lesson plans) that incorporate principles of evolution into other disciplines of biology.
  19. Human evolution

  20. Human Evolution This resource from Bruce MacEvoy links to documents "summarizing the hominid fossil record and hypothesized lines of human evolution from 5 million years ago to the present." The site is divided into five parts: Chart of Human Evolution, Tour of the Human Fossil Record, The Hominid Brain, Hominid Tools, Hominid Fossil Sites and Patterns of Hominid Dispersal.
  21. Human Evolution The first Web site is an article from the New York Times (1) detailing fossil discoveries that are shaking the paleontological world (free registration is required). Another relatively recent article from Guardian Unlimited (2) discusses a scientific debate surrounding the question of whether "a Western lifestyle now protects humanity from the forces that used to shape Homo sapiens." The third resource (3) includes a likely timeline of events in the history of hominids and a tour of the fossil record. A second timeline from the Huntarian Museum and Art Gallery at the University of Glasgow (4) is less detailed, but links to many major fossil discoveries of human and pre-human history. An "overview of the study of human evolution, and of the currently accepted fossil evidence" (5) is used to inform arguments for creationists and evolutionists. An interesting site from the University of California Santa Barbara (6) presents 3-dimensional views of "modern primate relatives and fossil ancestors of humans." The interactive documentary from the Institute of Human Origins (7) is a great resource for those with the Flash plug-in and a high speed connection. Lastly, a resource from PBS.org (8) focuses on human evolution in a format aimed at kids.
  22. Human Evolution This radio broadcast discusses the process of human evolution, pointing out that it is a complex story with diverse species appearing and dying out, some of whom walked the Earth at the same time. Topics include the hominid split from chimps 6 million years ago; the molecular clock and DNA changes; the hominid fossil record and what can be determined from it; and why there were so many different species of hominids and what reasons they might have had for migrating out of Africa. There is also discussion of the characteristics of Homo erectus and Neanderthals; when modern humans emerged and developed culture and language; and what genes may be responsible for speech. The broadcast is 41 minutes and 45 seconds in length.
  23. Evolution of the Eye In this video appropriate for high school students and older, zoologist Dan-Erik Nilsson demonstrates how the complex human eye could have evolved from simple light-sensitive cells. From Evolution: "Darwin's Dangerous Idea." The resource includes discussion questions and a background essay.