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Honors Student Instructions
Tracing the History of the Theory of Evolution
Introduction: Scientific theories, such as biological evolution, are developed over many centuries. They are
never the idea of any one person. Outside of science, biological evolution is attributed mainly to Charles Darwin.
But, in actuality, Darwin studied the works of many other scientists and synthesized these thoughts with his
own observations to develop his theory. Since Darwin’s time, other scientists working in the fields of earth
science, natural history, genetics and development of organisms from zygote to death added more detail and
support to the theory.
Purpose: Investigate how four disciplinary areas — Earth's history, life's history, mechanisms of evolution,
and development and genetics — have contributed to our current understanding of evolution in order to develop
an understanding/appreciation for how theories are developed.
Georgia Standards: SCSh7. Students analyze how scientific knowledge is developed. SB5.a. Students will
trace the history of the theory of evolution.
Time Required: 1 hour homework to research and put your piece together, 90 minutes for class presentations.
1. Obtain an event/contribution and scientist(s) responsible for it and a large index card or ½ piece of
construction paper from your teacher.
2. Go to the website and click on your topic area.
3. Read through the information carefully and completely without taking notes.
4. Now re-read the information and pull out the important bits that are needed to present your piece of
(a) Event/Contribution and scientist(s) in large letters for the top of your card.
(b) Print a picture of your scientist and or contribution that will help you explain their contribution.
(c) As clearly as you can, summarize how the scientist’s work contributed to our current
understanding of evolutionary processes.
(d) Put this all together in an attractive clear way on your card or construction paper.
5. Present the contribution of your scientist(s) to the rest of the class and place your piece of history on
the tree prepared by your teacher (presentations will proceed in chronological order from oldest to most
6. Take notes during the presentations to help you write your report (see below).
7. Report Instructions: Using Darwin’s theory of natural selection as a central point, discuss three
contributions that helped him develop his ideas and three subsequent works that lend further support to
Darwin’s theory. For each contribution you mention, explain why the work was important. For example,
why was uniformitarianism important to Darwin’s thinking? Or, how does modern Evo-Devo provide
biochemical support to what Darwin observed?
8. Reports are due the day after the presentations are completed