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Evolution | NGSS

Evolution | NGSS

~25-30 40 to 50 minute class periods

How are people affected by and affecting evolution?
Students explore Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection, how populations of organisms change over time and how new species arise while others go extinct. They also learn to interpret the many sources of evidence for the evolution of life on Earth now and in the past.

PE Assessment Example: Explain how environmental changes affect the sickle cell trait over time in your population. Use evidence, including mathematical representations, from your investigation to support your explanation.

Evolution is part of Issues and Science three year middle school program, designed by SEPUP at the Lawrence Hall of Science. This seven week unit anchors the lessons around the the socio-science issue: How are people affected by and affecting evolution? Investigative phenomena within the 17 activities connect back to the issue and storyline. This unit builds towards and assesses PEs LS3-1, LS4-1, LS4-2, LS4-3, LS4-4, LS4-5, LS4-6.


Content in Evolution | NGSS is organized into 17 activities, as follows:

Activity Title Activity Type Activity Overview
1. The Full Course Investigation Students model the effects of antibiotics on a population of disease-causing bacteria during an infection. Students toss number cubes to determine whether an infected individual remembers to take the prescribed daily dose of antibiotics, which in turn affects the size and antibiotic resistance of the bacterial population in the patient. Students keep track of and graph the population size of the remaining bacteria depending on their resistance to antibiotics. Students consider the effect of changing the chemical environment on the survival of bacteria with varying levels of antibiotic resistance.
2. Hiding in the Background Modeling Using toothpicks of two colors, students simulate the effect of prey coloration on predation rates by birds. They calculate and graph the changing frequencies of worm colors over successive generations. Students consider how this model is similar to the antibiotic scenario in the previous activity.
3. A Meeting of the Minds Role Play Students role-play an imaginary meeting between Charles Darwin, Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, a modern-day science reporter, and a middle school student. In the role play, Darwin and Lamarck present and compare their explanations for how a change in a species occurs. Students learn that Darwin’s explanation has been accepted as the Theory of Natural Selection and that this theory is essential to our understanding of evolution.
4. Battling Beaks Modeling Students simulate the effect of natural selection on an imaginary forkbird species. Genetic mutations, represented by tosses of a number cube, introduce variation into the population. Differential survival and reproduction of particular types of forkbirds changes the composition of the population over time. At the close of the activity, the class discusses the role of variation in the process of natural selection.
5. Mutations: Good or Bad? Modeling Students follow the inheritance of a hemoglobin mutation through two generations. They investigate the effects of environmental conditions (incidence of malaria, survival rates, and resource availability) on the increase or decrease of the trait.
6. Mutations an Evolution Computer Simulation Students use a computer simulation to extend their investigation around the inheritance of the hemoglobin mutation. The simulation first extends their data from the previous activity through 30 generations. Then students are able to adjust the environmental conditions to see how access to resources and the prevalence of malaria influence the distribution of the hemoglobin gene over time.
7. Origins of Species View and Reflect Students watch a video segment on the evolution of Galapagos finches. They learn about Darwin’s original discovery of the finches and how the birds contributed to his ideas about natural selection. They also learn about recent research done by Peter and Rosemary Grant over several decades, who documented the phenomenon of evolving beak size. They use a viewing guide to help them understand speciation and natural selection in the Galapagos finches.
8. History and Diversity of Life Reading Students read text and examine graphs and charts to obtain information about both a brief history of life on Earth and a glimpse at the diversity of life on Earth today, as well as in the past. Stop to Think questions guide them through the reading to develop an understanding of the dynamic nature of life on Earth.
9. Fossil Evidence Laboratory Students examine and describe four types of fossils from various localities and geologic time periods. Students then examine four simulated drill cores, representing a fictional series of rock layers found in different parts of the world. The fossils in the drill cores are the same four fossils they examined. Based on the fossils contained within the layers, students are asked to determine how the layers in each locality correlate to the layers from the other localities. They are then challenged to use this fossil evidence to construct a timeline showing the relative timespans of each species represented by the actual fossils.
10. Fossilized Footprints Investigation Students interpret fossilized footprint evidence that is presented to them in stages. Through this process, they develop their skills at distinguishing observations from inferences, and at modifying hypotheses in light of new evidence. They also learn about other kinds of evidence that can be gathered from fossils, such as behavior.
11. Family Histories Investigation Students draw and compare double bar graphs showing changes in the numbers of fossil families in the fish, reptile, and mammal classes over geologic time. From this evidence, they can conclude that both speciation and extinction have occurred in all classes of vertebrates for as long as each class has existed. Students discuss how this evidence provides further support for a branching model for evolution.
12. A Whale of a Tale Investigation Students investigate how fossil history provides another line of evidence for evolution. They compare the skeleton of a living whale to fossils of its extinct ancestors and use anatomical differences to arrange the skeletons in order. Students apply the theory of natural selection to whale evolution, using anatomical adaptations to infer the habitats and lifestyles of extinct species.
13. Embryology Investigation Students first examine six species to identify bones with homologous structures and functions. Although the fully formed limbs appear different on the outside, students are able to identify similarities at the skeletal level. Students then examine embryological development of limbs and notice many similarities between different species. Finally, students then examine development of whole embryos of different species to infer evolutionary relationships.
14. The Sixth Extinction? Talking it Over Students examine a graph showing rates of extinction over time and identify episodes where rates of extinction were well above the background rate of extinction. They match information on cards about the five major extinction events identified by scientists to the graph. They also summarize the possible causes for these extinctions. Students then read about rates of extinction since 1500 and examine possible causes for those extinctions. Students consider whether there is currently a sixth mass extinction due to humans and, if so, whether people should do anything to prevent it.
15. Bacteria and Bugs: Evolution of Resistance Reading Students read about four types of organisms that cause problems for people, the use of chemicals to control those organisms, and how the organisms ultimately develop resistance to these chemicals. Students draw connections to the evolution of antibiotic resistance introduced at the start of the unit.
16. Manipulating Genes Investigation Students search a collection of websites for information about one or more technologies that people have developed to affect traits of organisms. They summarize the key points from at least two sources and synthesize the information. They evaluate each source according to a set of criteria. Students share the results of their research with their peers. Finally, students consider the possible trade- offs of using these technologies.
17. Evolution and Us Project Students develop a presentation or visual display to help scientists convince the public that learning about and understanding evolution is directly relevant to people’s lives. They share this presentation or visual display within the classroom (and may also share it outside of the classroom).

Lab-Aids® provides several useful tools to guide you and your students through the Evolution | NGSS unit:

Evolution | NGSS

Student Book

The Student Book guides students in exploring a socio-science issue and connected phemonena through a series of varied activity types. Activity types use one of twelve different instructional strategies to apply Science and Engineering Practices to specific Disciplinary Core Ideas and Cross Cutting Concepts.

SEPUP's integrated literacy strategies help students process new science content, develop their analytical skills, make connections between related concepts, and express their knowledge orally and in writing. The built-in assessment system helps teachers identify students' strengths and weaknesses from the beginning of the unit. This allows them to adjust activities when needed so that all students get the best chance to build their knowledge and appreciation of science. At the back of the Student Book there is an Appendix containing additional resources for students, such as science skills, literacy strategies, and media literacy among others.

Evolution | NGSS

Lab-Aids® Science Lab Notebook

A science notebook not only models the way scientists work, but it helps to develop and reinforce students’ science learning and literacy skills.

The Lab-Aids Science Lab Notebook is designed to support best practice note-booking strategies. It includes three-hole punched pages in a two-column design for Cornell-style notes. GraphAnywhere pages allow students to both write and easily create data-tables and graphs anywhere on the page. The unique “Lab-Log” column serves as a blank canvas for drawings, connections, and self-reflective notes. 160 pages total.

Evolution | NGSS

Complete Equipment Package

Lab-Aids programs include high-quality equipment for each activity. This includes innovative lab-ware to be used throughout the year, specific solutions and materials for unique labs, as well as items needed for card sorts, modeling, role-plays, and projects.

Materials for up to 5 classes of 32 students, mobile storage cart, Online Portal for one teacher includes online subscription to Teacher Edition and Resources, Student Book in English/Spanish (E/S), student sheets (E/S), visual aids (E/S), PowerPoints, online assessment system, LABsent, and supplemental resources)

Evolution | NGSS

Teacher Edition and Resources (Printed)

The SEPUP Teacher Edition (TE) guides you through each activity in the Student Book and helps you see the development of concepts within the big picture of the unit. It helps you set up the equipment from the kit, organize the classroom, conduct activities, and manage practical details, all of which enhance students’ learning environment.

The Teacher Edition text is broken down into several sections, such as Activity Overview, NGSS Connections and Correlations, Materials and Advanced Prep, Teaching Summary, and Background information to name a few. The Teacher Edition is packaged as a color-printed, loose-leaf binder which allows you to personalize it with highlighting, annotations, rearrangements, and insertions. It provides full support for teaching the program. Additional support resources can also found in the Teacher Resource book.

The Teacher Resource (TR) provides background and suggestions to increase the overall effectiveness of implementing the program across all levels of learners. Some sections include: SEPUP’s Approach to Teaching and Learning, Differentiation Strategies for Diverse Learners, Literacy Strategies for Supporting Reading Comprehension and for Enhancing Students’ Writing, and comprehensive instruction on the SEPUP Assessment System. There is also a section containing unit specific resources, such as overviews, unit storyline and phenomena table, NGSS correlations, assessment blueprints, and item banks."

Online Portal for Students

Access to Student online portal for 1 year, which includes: the digital Student Book (Spanish coming soon), additional resources, and LABsent sheets and videos for absent students. Ability to highlight, bookmark and make notes in the Student Book, complete homework and assessments, and communicate with the teacher. Also available as multi-year subscriptions.

Online Portal for Teachers

Access to Teacher online portal for 7 years, which includes: online subscription to the Teacher Edition and Resources, Student Book (Spanish coming soon), LABsent sheets & videos for absent students, Editable PowerPoints for each lesson, and integrated online assessment system. Ability to highlight, bookmark, and make notes in personal Student and Teacher books, create and assign homework and assessments, and communicate with students. Available as multi-year subscriptions. Single Sign-On (SSO) available