Hands On Activities

The most compelling evidence for evolution comes from relatively new findings in science, such as molecular biology, new theories in mathematics, ecology, astronomy and paleontology. An excellent way to introduce these often complex subjects is through hands-on activities and games.

The following activities and games demonstrate what we know about evolution and how we know that evolution occurs.

“Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I’ll understand.
~ Chinese Proverb “

Tinkering with DNA

DNA is at the heart of biological evolution. To learn how mobile DNA creates the genetic diversity that drives evolution, you can tinker with simulated DNA.

Evolution Beads

Recreate the story of the universe with beads representing significant events, such at the emergence of light,the ignition of the sun, the appearance of the first cell, and your birthday.

Pop Bead DNA

Pop-beads are used to model DNA, simulate its replication, and observe molecular evolution

String Genome

What percentage of the DNA in our cells encodes proteins? Use string to simulate the 2 meters of DNA in each of our cells.

Colors of the Universe

Scientists look at light to learn about stars, galaxies and the age of the universe. In this activity, we use diffraction glasses to learn how scientists see back in time.

Isolating DNA

All creatures from microbes to men contain DNA, the information storage molecule. In this activity, we isolate DNA from strawberries.

More Activities

People learn best when their bodies and minds are engaged in discovery. Here are more activities and games that demonstrate what we know about evolution.

Making DNA Model with Beads and Wire

This video shows you how to make a DNA molecule from wire and beads. (I don't know who the woman in this tutorial is.) http://youtu.be/G8u5Ikdgsk8

Symbiotic Cells

Endosymbiosis was one of the most important events in evolution. Candies and a baggies are used to model simple cells, which are then combined to model the endosymbiotic evolution of mitochondria.

Examining Primate Skulls

Skulls - our own, from extant primates, and from fossils can tell us a lot about our human evolution. Objectives: Students learn how measure and observe primate skulls - including their own! Students will use data to reconstruct tree. Procedure Examine Skulls Record...

DNA Beads

Students “synthesize” DNA using colorful beads and pipe cleaners.  They then “transcribe” DNA into messenger RNA and “translate” this into protein.

Fossils Dig

Students  excavating "fossils" from a model of sedimentary "rocks."  These fossils are found in certain layers of Earth, and not in others. Layers of various kinds of soil simulate geological strata. Materials Directions Resources   Student Learning Outcomes: Students...

Googly Bird Adaptation

Googly Bird Adaptation: explore how shape and structure of beaks affects the type of food that birds are able to eat and thus, the bird’s survival in environment with a particular kind of seeds.

Exploring Evolution

Exploring Evolution is a curriculum based on hands-on activities that allow students to discover key concepts in the Epic of Evolution.

Web of Life

Creatures evolve in ecosystems. In this activity, students create a web with yarn to demonstrate the interdependence of various creatures in a pond ecosystem.

Remember the Epic

This is a simple mnemotic device to remember main events in the Epic Of Evolution. From David Bryson.

Elemental Birthdays

Elemental Birthdays: How to bring Science into Every Party. Authors Heather and Jon Cleland-Host offer fun new ways to celebrate birthdays while at the same time learning about the building blocks of our universe.

Time Spirals

Time Spirals show the story of the universe in a delightful way that gives us a profound sense of our place in time. Just as every science classroom has a poster of the periodic table, soon, every history classroom will have a set of these Time Spirals.