Evolution is happening all around us, and is the focus of much of the research done by scientists at the Academy. Bring evolution to life in your classroom with these hands-on activities that explore genetic variation, natural selection, adaptation, and other topics. Make these abstract ideas more concrete for your students, while exercising their observation and communication skills.


  • curriculum binder
  • 36 cowry shells
  • genetic wheel
  • PTC paper
  • black and white beans and bean containers
  • wolf skull
  • bull dog skull
  • Great Dane skull
  • chihuahua skull
  • 8 sets of the "Fish Evolution" board game
  • Books and Booklets: "Evolution and the Fossil Record" by John Pojeta Jr. and Dale A Springer; "Encyclopedia of Dog Breeds" by D Caroline Coile; "Eyewitness: Evolution" by Linda Gamlin;
  • Videos and DVDs: "Dogs and More Dogs", "Evolution" (PBS series), "Evolution: Constant Change and Common Threads", "Evolution: Fossils, Genes, and Mousetraps", "World's Last Great Places: Islands"



Observing Variation: Think all cowrie shells look alike? Guess again! Discover the remarkable range of variation within a species and give your observation skills a workout.

Genetic Wheel: Take a closer look at some of your own traits and begin to explore the variation within the human species.

Breeding Bunnies: Track genotype frequencies over generations of bunnies. As natural selection acts on the population, how will genotype frequencies change?

Knee-deep in Green Peppers: Are green peppers trying to take over the world? Discover how many green peppers could be produced in a few generations from a single ancestor and learn why fertility is important in natural selection.

Candy Bowl Predation: See natural selection in action as your class preys upon a helpless bowl of candy. What traits will help a piece of candy survive?

Dog Breeds: Learn about artificial selection as you compare the skulls of different dog breeds.

Fish Evolution: Watch the drama of evolution over time unfold in this exciting board game. Learn the importance of adaptation and see how species are affected by changes in the environment.

Training available in Fall 2017

teachers with certificates

Become eligible to rent this kit by attending a teacher workshop!

Saturday, December 9, 2017
8:30 am - 12:30 pm

California Science Content Standards

We are in the process of aligning the kits with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).  NGSS connections will be posted here in the near future.

Grade Seven

Life Sciences

  • 2b. Students know sexual reproduction produces offspring that inherit half their genes from each parent.
  • 2c. Students know an inherited trait can be determined by one or more genes.
  • 2d. Students know plant and animal cells contain many thousands of different genes and typically have two copies of every gene. The two copies (or alleles) of the gene may or may not be identical, and one may be dominant in determining the phenotype while the other is recessive.
  • 3a. Students know both genetic variation and environmental factors are causes of evolution and diversity of organisms.
  • 3b. Students know the reasoning used by Charles Darwin in reaching his conclusion that natural selection is the mechanism of evolution.
  • 3d. Students know how to construct a simple branching diagram to classify living groups of organisms by shared derived characteristics and how to expand the diagram to include fossil organisms.
  • 3e. Students know that extinction of a species occurs when the environment changes and the adaptive characteristics of a species are insufficient for its survival.
  • 4b. Students know the history of life on Earth has been disrupted by major catastrophic events, such as major volcanic eruptions or the impacts of asteroids.
  • 4e. Students know fossils provide evidence of how life and environmental conditions have changed.
  • 4f. Students know how movements of Earth's continental and oceanic plates through time, with associated changes in climate and geographic connections, have affected the past and present distribution of organisms.

Investigation and Experimentation

  • 7c. Communicate the logical connection among hypotheses, science concepts, tests conducted, data collected, and conclusions drawn from the scientific evidence.
  • 7d. Construct scale models, maps, and appropriately labeled diagrams to communicate scientific knowledge (e.g., motion of Earth's plates and cell structure).

Mathematical Reasoning

  • 1.1 Analyze problems by identifying relationships, distinguishing relevant from irrelevant information, identifying missing information, sequencing and prioritizing information, and observing patterns.
  • 2.4 Make and test conjectures by using both inductive and deductive reasoning.

Grade Eight

Investigation and Experimentation

  • 9e. Construct appropriate graphs from data and develop quantitative statements about the relationships between variables.

Grades Nine through Twelve

Life Sciences

  • 2d. Students know new combinations of alleles may be generated in a zygote through the fusion of male and female gametes (fertilization).
  • 2e. Students know why approximately half of an individual's DNA sequence comes from each parent.
  • 2g. Students know how to predict possible combinations of alleles in a zygote from the genetic makeup of the parents.
  • 3a. Students know how to predict the probable outcome of phenotypes in a genetic cross from the genotypes of the parents and mode of inheritance (autosomal or X-linked, dominant or recessive).
  • 6g. Students know how to distinguish between the accommodation of an individual organism to its environment and the gradual adaptation of a lineage of organisms through genetic change.
  • 7a. Students know why natural selection acts on the phenotype rather than the genotype of an organism.
  • 7b. Students know why alleles that are lethal in a homozygous individual may be carried in a heterozygote and thus maintained in a gene pool.
  • 7c. Students know new mutations are constantly being generated in a gene pool.
  • 7d. Students know variation within a species increases the likelihood that at least some members of a species will survive under changed environmental conditions.
  • 7e.* Students know the conditions for Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium in a population and why these conditions are not likely to appear in nature.
  • 8a. Students know how natural selection determines the differential survival of groups of organisms.
  • 8b. Students know a great diversity of species increases the chance that at least some organisms survive major changes in the environment.
  • 8d. Students know reproductive or geographic isolation affects speciation.

Investigation and Experimentation

  • 1d. Formulate explanations by using logic and evidence.

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