Evolution for Grades K-3

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WHY WHALES HAVE LEG BONES

Research has shown that children form explanations of nature by ages 7 and 8, and that children as young as 5 can readily understand natural selection.* This SeaTrek is an introduction to marine-based evolution for grades K-3. It teaches the basic concepts of genetic variation and natural selection on a level easily understood by the K-3 age group.

The program begins with a mystery: why do whales have hind leg bones in their skeletons? In the quest to solve the mystery, the children learn what genes are, how genes can change, how those changes can lead to new species, and how scientists use the fossil record to learn about the history of life. Two vocabulary words are introduced: "genes" —not to be confused with "jeans"; and "mutation"—careful to say "myou" and not "moo" like a cow! Both words are reinforced throughout the program.

The 20-minute interactive presentation uses graphics and a 1-minute video in PowerPoint. Children then spend 20-25 minutes in small groups rotating through three hands-on activities: 1) fossil examination and drawing using real Orthoceras fossils; 2) sand scooping to give the child a physical experience of the concept of deep time; and 3) a hawks-and-mice game demonstrating natural selection in action.

Evolution is the basis for all the life sciences. With this fun, funny, and accessible introduction to evolution's basic concepts, the youngest students can begin making sense of the life around them, and, more importantly, ask informed questions about why life is the way it is.

Good to know: 1) This program does not overlap with the Whales SeaTrek; and 2) We do not introduce the terms "evolution" or "natural selection" in the program.

"This program was so fun I wish it could go on and on and on and on!"
--3rd grader at The Cornerstone School, Stratham

*See http://www.bu.edu/cdl/files/2014/02/Kelemen_et_al_Natural_Selectionplussupp.pdf
and
http://www.bu.edu/cdl/ccl/our-research/