Teacher Information Page

Introduction | Learners | Process | Resources | Evaluation | Conclusions


This lesson was developed as part of the Warrensburg, Missouri School District's WebQuest Academy project, a State funded Competitive Technology Grant.

The WebQuest is designed to give the students a feel for what it might have been like to actually be part of the historical voyage that Charles Darwin took on the Beagle. It has been limited to only the discoveries made on the Galapagos Islands with references back to what he learned on the South American mainland. As much as possible I have tried to limit the URL sources to what naturalists might have discovered in the 1800's rather than relate the activity to the Islands as they are presently.

An excellent follow-up to this lesson would be to view the video from Discovery Channel, Galapagos: Beyond Darwin. Check out the various links on the site to see what is happening currently on the Islands and what is proposed to preserve the species originally found by Darwin.

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This lesson is for use in high school level biology as introduction to Darwin's development of the theories of natural selection, adaptation and evolution.

It would be helpful to precede this WebQuest with an introduction to classification and prevailing theories about origins of life that preceded Darwin. It is hoped the learners will be able to see the observations that Darwin made and draw similar conclusions themselves. There should be plenty of good discussions generated at the seminar.

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Refer to the process description given to students in the Students Pages for instructions given to students. Students may be assigned the reading on the Theory of Evolution in their text book prior to using the WebQuest.

Divide students into groups--either radomly by numbering off or prearranged by teacher. There should be one computer per group of 3-4 students. At least 2 computer oriented class periods should be planned. The first computer class period will be needed for students to collect information from the WebQuest locations. The second computer class will be needed for them to prepare and organize their data. Two class periods will be needed for the presentations to the seminar and the susequent discussions. A final period will be needed for summary review and testing. Depending on class efficiency and length of periods, there may need to be one other planning session. For my block schedule it is anticipated that 2 weeks will be necessary to adequately explore the subject.

The first four roles should definitely be used. The role of geologist is a good complement to the discoveries the naturalists will be making. The historians role may be omitted but gives good balance to some of the problems scientists run into when dealing with research that may controversial to the general public.

There should be a foundation laid before starting this WebQuest to define science as a discipline that deals with ideas that can be tested. Darwin's ideas can be tested by the tools of the fossil record, radioactive dating, comparative anatomy, comparative embryology, and comparative chemistry including DNA and protein sequencing. The concept of Natural Selection is one we can observe in a shorter time frame than the evolutionary process and is one that logically students can understand. An understanding of Natural Selection is the cornerstone to understanding the Theory of Evolution. You may wish to refer to the URL found in the resources given to the Historians on Evolution and Creationism.

Another misconception students may have is the concept of geological time. These processes of change have been going on for billions of years and some work needs to be done to prepare students to understand that the earth has changed a lot in those 4.5-5 billion years. A geologic timeline lesson might be helpful as well as a discussion of how the earth's atmosphere today differs from what it was in primitive times. It would also be easier for students to accept Darwin's ideas as possible if they understood the concept of continental drift, Pangea, plate tectonics and island formations from hot spots in the earth's crust.

Two good video series to use with this study would be the David Attenborough's The Living Planet and Life on Earth.

Here are some sites that might be helpful to refer to when teaching evolution:

Teaching evolution--tips and ideas

Biology links to evolution

NSTA sources on teaching evolution and creationism

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Resources Needed

One computer for each group. If all 6 roles are used, 6 computers are required. There should be between 3-5 students per group. 4 or less is a good working number to strive for.

Students may want to use a scan converter to project a computer image onto a television screen when making their presentations.

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Students will be evaluated on their group presentation as outlined in the Task and Process sections.

Students will be tested individually on the content.

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Students will have used the Internet to gather information on a teacher directed topic. They will have prepared a report of the information gathered and conclusions they have reached to the class. It is hoped that they will appreciate the work to which Darwin devoted his life and come to appreciate the process of the scientific method.

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