As we are planning a family holiday to the Galápagos this fall, I wanted to get the kids excited about the historical significance of these amazing islands. A few months ago, I learned of a temporary exhibit at the Gateway Science Museum in Chico, California. The Explore Evolution exhibit was the perfect segue to our voyage – providing us an opportunity to learn more about Darwin’s theory of evolution as well as the work of modern day scientists.
From rapidly evolving HIV to whales, the Explore Evolution exhibit investigates evolutionary principles in organisms ranging from the smallest to the largest. The project focuses on seven research projects that have made a major contribution to our understanding of evolution.
To help develop an understanding of how organisms change, the seven featured research projects are also divided into one of the four basic components of evolution: variation, inheritance, selection and time.
The interactive exhibit gives visitors an opportunity to experience how scientists conduct research on evolution. The exhibit featured the work of the following scientists:
- Charles Wood on the rapid evolution of HIV.
- Sherilyn Fritz and Edward Theriot on the emergence of a new diatom species in the fossil record.
- Cameron Currie on farmer ants and their coevolving partners.
- Kenneth Kaneshiro on selective mating among Hawaiian flies.
- Rosemary and Peter Grant on Galápagos finches.
- Svante Pääbo and Henrik Kaessmann on the genetic ties between humans and chimps.
- Philip Gingerich on fossil discoveries of walking whales.
In anticipation for our excursion to the Galápagos this fall, I have put together a unit study that explores the diversity of the islands and the historical significance of Darwin’s discoveries through literature, writing, and hands-on science activities.
Please Note: The unit does include a couple of lessons relating to Darwin and evolution which can be easily modified or omitted altogether.
Galápagos Across the Curriculum is a hands-on multidisciplinary unit study that provides ample opportunity for kids to explore the diversity and remarkable history of the islands. This unit includes hands-on, inquiry-based activities and lesson plans that can be easily integrated into a larger life science or earth science curriculum. 12 page eBook (PDF)