Teachers can best use NOVA Evolution to help students understand the nature of science, including the ways that scientists explore how populations have changed over time. Have students start by reading the article "Battle over Humanities Origins," which describes the discovery of a new hominid fossil. Ask your students about the claims being made. How do scientists back up these claims with evidence and reasoning? While they're reading, NOVA's "Who's Who in Human Evolution" interactive can help kids make sense of the different fossil names mentioned. This interactive won't actually let kids move things around, but they can click on fossils and get more information. Afterward, kids could try out the separate evolution module at NOVA Labs, where they'll actually get to build a phylogeny themselves.
NOVA Evolution is an excellent resource for the great evolution questions that curious kids come up with. They can read about ongoing debates in evolution such as "Are Neanderthals Human?" or "Are We Still Evolving?" In the "Origins of Bipedalism" interactive, kids can compare different hypotheses about why we walk upright. Throughout, students are scientists, considering evidence and how well it supports claims being made.
- Nova Labs Evolution: Build phylogenies to determine evolutionary relationships.
- Battle over Humanity’s Origins: Read about the newest hominid fossil.
- Origins of Bipedalism: Figure out why we walk upright.
Key Standards Supported
Biological Evolution: Unity and Diversity
Communicate scientific information that common ancestry and biological evolution are supported by multiple lines of empirical evidence.
Evaluate the evidence supporting claims that changes in environmental conditions may result in: (1) increases in the number of individuals of some species, (2) the emergence of new species over time, and (3) the extinction of other species.
Analyze and interpret data for patterns in the fossil record that document the existence, diversity, extinction, and change of life forms throughout the history of life on Earth under the assumption that natural laws operate today as in the past.
Apply scientific ideas to construct an explanation for the anatomical similarities and differences among modern organisms and between modern and fossil organisms to infer evolutionary relationships.