Lesson 3 - Evolution Upstream

Lesson Plan

State Standards:

High School 5.3 Explain how evolution through natural selection can result in changes in biodiversity through the increase or decrease of genetic diversity within a population.

Essential Question:

How does adapatation work?

Lesson Question:

How does an organism's general characteristics, such as being brightly colored, effect its ability to reproduce and survive in its environments?


When Darwin travelled the Galapagos Islands exploring the different organisms, he notices some of the organisms were very brightly colored and flashy. One thing we should be able to recall is that evolution involves the ability of a group of organisms to not only survive in their environment but also reproduce. So, what you will be investigating is how does having bright colorations or flashy characteristics affect an organism's ability to find a mate, escape predators, and pass on its genes to the next generation.


You will investigate the process of evolution and research how natural selection and adaptations effect an organism's ability to reproduce and survive in its environment.

Lesson Experiences:

DAY 1: Exploring Evolution

Part 1: Black Box Investigation

  1. Working in groups of 4-5, obtain a cube from the teacher
  2. Observe the words or phrase on the cube. Discuss with your group what you see on the cube and what each word or phrase has to do with each other.
  3. Brainstorm with your group using the construction paper to determine what the missing word or phrase would best go on the missing side of the cube. You have 10 minutes.
  4. After the 10 minutes is up, choose one person from your group to explain the result of your brainstorming and why you chose the word or phrases with the rest of the class. Please be prepared to defend your answer.


Part 2: What is evolution?

  1. After your 10 minute class discussion on "What is evolution?," record the words located on the whiteboard on the paper provided by the teacher.
  2. As a group, write a 1-2 sentences that best define the word evolution.
  3. Obtain 2 laptop computers per group. Sign on and process to website Quizlet. URL will be provided by the teacher.
  4. Review the key terms you recorded from the class discussion.
  5. Each group will be given 5 words from the whiteboard to find the definition using the textbook or internet that will be shared with the rest of the class that will be added to the Quizlet. Make sure you save your work before you leave the website or you will need to re-enter it again later.
  6. Process to the new URL address provided by the teacher. Once at the website, each group will use words reviewed to design a Wordle graphic. You must also provide at 5 new words not recorded from the board in you art that are associated with evolution. Each group will design one Wordle to show to the rest of the class. Make sure you record the URL so you can assess the site outside of class for homework if you are not done by the end of class.

Part 3: Video on Evolution

Darwin in Galapagos Island Video

  1. Using the laptops, view the above video on Darwin and the Galapagos islands on YouTube.
  2. After viewing the clip, choose 3 other video clips on Darwin or Galapagos Islands available in the right side column.
  3. After each video discuss the following questions on Evolution within your groups. Be prepare to discuss your answers with the rest of the class.
  4. What the subject topic of the video clip?
  5. What examples does the video to help explain evolution? name organism used in the video.
  6. Did this video you help you better understand the process of evolution?
  7. Did you like the video? why or why not?
  8. How did the video explain or define evolution?


DAY 3: Organisms and their Environments

Today we are going to investigate how organisms can live certain environment and not others. What things do organisms need in order to live and successfully reproduce in any given environment?

We will be investigating how organisms living in different environments have different characteristics and traits that help them survive in those environment. Your task today will be to observe the characteristics of an unknown organism from another planet that has lost its home. You and your group must design a habitat for it to live in on our planet. Remember, in order for the organisms to survive and reproduce successfully, all the necessary needs of the organism must be met.

  1. In your group, obtain a laptop and go to the URL address provided by your teacher.
  2. Read the instruction on how to proceed than observe the photo of the feature organism and briefly describe its characteristics.
  3. Determine the basic needs the organism may have to survive based on its characteristics.
  4. Discuss with your group possible places the organism can live on the earth (North Pole, Tropics, Austria, etc.)
  5. Now using the Fetch! website from create a habitat online (see link below) practice creating habitats for the organism based on its unique characteristics, skills and feeding requirements. Be creative! Create at least 2 new habitats for the organism to live in on our planet. Remember the environment must provide what the organism needs to survive and reproduce. As your design your habitats make sure to discuss and record the reasons your chose certain features for each habitat.

Consider the following as you build you habitats:



DAY 4: Prezi Presentation

Now that you have defined evolution and investigated the process of evolution, it's time to illustrate what you know about topic.

Each group will create a presentation on different concepts associated with the topic evolution. Your presentation will be used to discuss the concept of evolution with the rest of the class based on what you learned about evolution during this lesson. You may use your notes from class, the textbook, and/or internet sources. So let's get started!

  1. Pick a concept from the hat. Create a concept map to begin to organize the information you have on your topic. You may use your textbook and/or your notes to assist you.
  2. Find the other students in class with the same topic assignment, and compare their concept maps with your own and answer the following questions:
    • Do all the maps have the same information?
    • Any information not go under the topic?
    • Can you organize the new information into one concept map
  3. As a group, Build one concept map using the information based on your groups smaller maps.
  4. Using your concept map, organize and combine the information into one Prezi presentation that will be presented to whole class in 6 days from Today. You will be given time in class to work with your group on the Prezi so make should you bring any relative source information to class with you.

Be Creative. Do Darwin proud!

Follow the link below to see an example of a basic Prezi presentation on Evolution. This is only a beginning point. Your final presentation should be at least 10-15 slides long.

Evolution by Jed Doyle on Prezi


DAY 5: Natural Selection Investigation

To help you with your presentation of evolution, let's take a look at evolution and natural selection at work. The investigation you are about to do examines how flashy colored fish living in a given environment are able to survive and reproduce despite the present of different predators be able to find them easily in the environment.

The purpose of this activity is to analyze how guppy populations change over time. The simulation activity allows you to start with a pool of guppies and your choice of predators, you will be able to watch what happens to your guppy population and how the introduction of predators can affect the guppy's appearance. The simulation will help you understand what pressures drive guppy evolution.

(This activity adapted from

Open the Guppy Sex Simulator!


First of all, familiarize yourself with the site, you should know each of the following before proceeding to the simulation.

Sexual selection and predation both play roles in the evolution of guppies. Both can affect the coloration of male guppies. In this experiment, you will attempt to answer the following question:

To what degree do predation and sexual selection affect guppy coloration? (Which has a greater effect, or do they work equally to influence guppy populations?)

Open up a Word document to begin your lab report. For this activity, the lab report includes only 3 sections (you can also write this by hand):

You can make a graph with microsoft exel, or you can go to an online graph-maker at

Guppy Simulation

% of Brightest Guppies (8 generations)

% of Bright Guppies (8 generations)

% of Drab Guppies (8 generations)

% of Drabbest Guppies (8 generations)

Trial 1 Guppy: Even Mix Predators: 30 Rivulus

Trial 2 Guppy: Even Mix Predators: 30 Rivulus, 30 Acara

Trial 3 Guppy: Even Mix Predators: 30 Rivulus, 30 Acara, 30 Cichlid

Trial 4 Guppy: Mostly Bright Predators: 30 Rivulus

Trial 5 Guppy: Mostly Bright Predators: 30 Rivulus, 30 Acara, 30 Cichlid


  1. Describe how predators influence guppy coloration.
  2. Was your hypothesis correct, use your data to justify your answer.
  3. What does it mean that “male guppies live in a crossfire between their enemies and their would be mates”?
  4. Why do you think guppies in different areas of the stream have different coloration?
  5. What would happen to mostly drab guppies that were placed in a stream with very few predators?
  6. What would happen to brightly colored guppies that were placed in a stream with many predators?

Make sure your data is defined - include beginning populations, number of generations, colorations and other pertinent labels

Conclusions - answer the experimental question. The conclusion can be written in about a paragraph. Be sure to include general information about the trends in the data to support your conclusion.



You will prepare a presentation about evolution using a Prezi web tool that explains, demonstrates, or illustrates the concept of evolution by investigating the process of natural selection, adaptations, and reproduction success within a given population. Your presentation should answer the big question:

How does an organism's general characteristics, such as being brightly colored, effect its ability to reproduce and survive in its environments?


Assessment Rubric

You will be able to....






use and define appropriate vocabulary and concepts

Student able to properly use vocabulary associated with evolution, ecology, and natural selection




20 points

create 2 new habitats

Student able to successfully create 2 completely different habitats for organism and explain how organism well suited for habitat.




40 points

graphed data from guppy investigation

Students able to successfully analysis data generated during Guppy and correctly graph data.




40 points

Prezi presentation using research on topic

Student is able to prepare,organize, and present a Prezi format presentation on assigned topic.




90 points

work in small groups cooperatively

Student is able to work cooperatively with other members of assigned group




10 points


200 points



Teacher Notes:

Image credits: