"Teaching Evolution through Human Examples"
The Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History has created four free, downloadable curriculum units for Advanced Placement (AP) Biology classes, aligned to the learning objectives, using human case studies to teach core evolutionary principles. The curriculum units are:
(1) Adaptation to Altitude,
(3) Evolution of Human Skin Color, and
(4) What Does It Mean To Be Human?.
The project has also created a CRS (Cultural and Religious Sensitivity) Teaching Strategies Resource to help teachers create a comfortable and supportive classroom environment for teaching evolution. All project resources are available for free at http://humanorigins.si.edu/education/teaching-evolution-through-human-examples. The "Teaching Evolution through Human Examples" (TEtHE) project was funded by National Science Foundation Discovery Research K-12 grant #1119468.
Several Topics to Explore...
Below are well-vetted lesson plans dealing with human evolution that the Understanding Evolution website has generously allowed us to link to. We will continue to post new lesson plans.
Alike but Not the Same (Grades 9-12)
Students conduct a classwide inventory of human traits, construct histograms of the data they collect, and play a brief game that introduces students to major concepts related to human genetic variation and the notion of each individual's uniqueness.
Comparison of Human and Chimp Chromosomes (Grades 9-12) [Links to Beth's Comparison of ....]
Students observe that the banding patterns seen on stained chromosomes from humans and chimpanzees show striking similarities. Possible evolutionary relationships are explored, as are the chromosomes and relationships of other apes.
Fossil and Migration Patterns in Early Hominids (Grades 9-12)
Students plot the distribution of major hominid taxa on a world map to hypothesize about the origin and movement of prehuman ancestors.
Investigating Common Descent: Formulating Explanations and Models (Grades 9-12)
Students formulate explanations and models that simulate structural and biochemical data as they investigate the misconception that humans evolved from apes.
It's All in Your Head: An Investigation of Human Ancestry (Grades 9-12)
Students describe, measure and compare cranial casts from contemporary apes, modern humans, and fossil hominids to discover some of the similarities and differences between these forms and to see the pattern leading to modern humans.
A quick overview sampling of these materials reveals many diverse and engaging experiences. Keep in mind that the target audience for these materials is AP Biology, so they are rather challenging, and academically sound. However, teachers may find that some of the topics could be effectively used in an honors or college prep biology as well. All materials and instructions are provided, including excellent PowerPoint slides for each unit.
For each of the four units on Teaching Evolution Through Human Examples, teachers will find the following choices:
Condensed Version vs Full Version
Student Condensed Version vs Teacher Condensed Version
Materials needed, including PowerPoint slides. The slides structure frequent opportunities for student interactive discussions: Pair-Share and Out-Sharing with the class.
In the What it Means to be Human unit, several elements of the culture (nature) of science are included. Humans are also included (as they should be) with the African Apes.
Human evolution provides many of the clearest examples of evolution and the processes of science at work. Students find this approach engaging, interesting, and enjoyable.
Larry Flammer, ENSI webmaster, 8/30/2015