3D tree of life for teaching kids about evolution 1

“If you want to show young children how their favorite animals (e.g., cats, dogs, horses) share a common ancestor, ask them to bring in plastic animals from different species (e.g., house cat, lion, tiger), and attach them to different branches of a “tree of life”. Precede this lesson plan with a trip to the library, so that you know which species they need to collect at home (the safari phase), and which species they might need to just draw (or make out of clay).”
C Purrin
The designer of this display is a associate professor of Evolutionary Biologywho lives and works in the US where teaching evolution is a bit more of a hot potato than in the UK. Hr’s posted ideas about teaching evolution in school extensively on Flickr and talks about it on his web pages too.
“The majority of Americans don’t accept a natural origin of life, a nonhuman ancestry for humans, or that species continue to evolve today through non-magical processes such as natural selection. This faith in supernatural explanations is maintained by indoctrination of young children by parents, but facilitated by weak biology instruction at public schools, where evolution is rarely portrayed as the unifying principle in biology. To effectively educate children about life, therefore, science standards must be readjusted so that exposure to evolution is commenced in kindergarten, when it might better counteract the fictional creation mythologies that kids are being taught at home. Waiting until middle school or high school to teach evolution is, as polls show, “not so effective.”

About Linda Hartley

Hi, I enjoy helping teachers to make their classrooms into interesting visual learning environments. I write most of this site and I also run the Classroom Displays online course which you can find out more about in the sidebar.

One thought on “3D tree of life for teaching kids about evolution

  • Cath

    interesting topic, and love things like the plastic animals idea. we don’t seem to do this in the UK so much, can’t say i’ve ever seen it covered. I’m afraid the display itself doesnt do much for me, it is not really clear enough for the children perhaps

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