Updated October 2015

NOVA: Evolution

Examine evidence, consider how populations have changed over time

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Science, Critical Thinking

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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.
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Featured review by
Donna M. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Vista Visions Academy
Vista, United States
Engaging Resources to Explore Evolution
The resources on the site are outstanding. The articles, videos, and interactives are current, engaging and puts students in the role of investigator. The reading level of the articles is fairly high and there is nothing to support low readers with the content in the articles. However, the interactives and slide shows contain a mix of reading and video so the content in those is accessible to most students. The videos are also accessible but the full episodes are the traditional NOVA videos - 1 to 2 ho ...
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