Curriculum Resources

On this page we have compiled resources for educators to use in the classroom.  The first section consists of modules developed at NESCent.  "Other Curriculum Resources" includes a list of various resources ranging from single lessons, to books, to computer simulations.  The "Audio and Video Lecture" section has links to single lectures, interviews, and science shows.  Some are are audio only while others include video. 

Curriculum Resources by NESCent

Other Curriculum Resources

Suggested Textbooks and Reviews

Reading List

Video and Audio Lecture Collection


Curriculum Resources by NESCent

Influenza Virus: A tiny moving target

Level: High School

Time: 2-3 50 minute periods

Overview: The potential of a new flu pandemic is a frightening idea. This curriculum explains how influenza viruses infect cells and replicate. It also has students explore where influenza viruses come from, how viruses evolve, and why some become deadly.

Click here to view "The influenza virus life cycle", an interactive presentation.


Re-wilding North America

Level: High School, Introductory College Biology

Time: Two to three 45 minute class periods

Overview: A class discussion on various aspects of re-wilding: the concept of reintroducing large vertebrates, such as elephants and lions, that became extinct in North America at the end of the Pleistocene.  A key concept in ecology is that organisms evolve within a particular environment.  The pathway of evolution is influenced by interactions among organisms, the landscape, and the weather.  Changes in any of these areas can impact evolutionary pathways, disturbing balances and creating new selective pressures.  Can the environment present at the end of the Pleistocene be re-established?  Should it?  This lesson should have wide spread appeal as topics include ecology, evolution, conservation, economics, aesthetics, and ethics.Buell

Suggested web sites:
Wild burros
Wild asses
Bactrian camel
Asian elephant
African elephant
Feral horse
Przewalski’s horse
Bolson’s tortoise

NPR Science Friday Interview with Josh Donlan

Master 1.1 and 1.3 Re-wilding North America /Reintroduction of Wolves in Yellowstone Powerpoint


Image: Carl Buell



Identifying Biocontrol Agents Through Applied Systematics

This exercise presents an invasive species problem in which scientists are using applied evolution to develop a solution.  Instructors will find a case study, bioinformatics tools, and files to take students an exploration of the systematics of bud gall flies and their hosts. 


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Other Curriculum Resources:

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A virtual lab for exploring genetics, biochemistry, molecular biology and evolution from Brian White (U Mass, Boston).

Atapuerca Live

A web site focusing on human evolution. Includes a digital time line and information about archaeology research.  Available in Spanish and English.

Access Excellence
Access Excellence has a collection of lessons developed and tested by teachers.  This page is devoted to evolution and covers a wide range of topics.  There are activities, wet and dry labs, games, simulations, etc. using topics ranging from fossils to molecular biology .

Action Bioscience

Web site with peer reviewed articles on a variety of current biological issues including interviews with prominent scientists. Articles include links to encourage students to investigate further. Some lessons are available and all articles are available in Spanish as well as English.


Level: Introductory College Biology; Time: Varied, independent or lab exercise; Overview: This manual accompanies the Avida program, an artificial life computer program that demonstrates evolution in action. The operator specifies certain environmental parameters and avida allows competition between individual entities within the platform. The goal is reproductive success of a given individual entity. The program can be downloaded and run on your computer.

Big Picture on Evolution This online publication from the WellcomeTrust highlights key aspects of evolutionary biology for teachers and high school students.  Includes an exercise in comparing and analyzing writing samples. 


This site provides short and concise introductions to basic concepts in molecular and cell biology and bioinformatics. The main emphasis is placed on making it as easy as possible for the user to understand which tools and databases are available from the European Bioinformatics Institute and from sites belonging to its collaborators.  The site content aims to make these services easier and more accessible but also provides links to other sites where similar resources are maintained and well supported.

BioInteractive Howard Hughes Medical Institute Holiday Lectures

This web site provides access to the Holiday lectures available via web cast or DVD. The 2005 Holiday lecturers are Sean Carroll and David M. Kingsley and their talks are entitled: Endless Forms Most Beautiful, Selection in Action, Fossils, Genes, and Embyros, and From Butterflies to Humans. There is also a lesson on the Y chromosome.

Biological Sciences Curriculum Study (BSCS)

A curriculum and professional development group with various resources for teaching evolution, including text books, curriculum supplements, and workshops.


A curriculum and professional development group offering peer reviewed computer based curricular materials and implementation workshops.

The Complete Works of Charles Darwin Online

"This site contains Darwin's complete publications, thousands of handwritten manuscripts and the largest Darwin bibliography and manuscript catalogue ever published; also hundreds of supplementary works: biographies, obituaries, reviews, reference works and more."

Evo-Ed: Case Studies for Evolution Education

This website contains a collection of case studies focusing on evolution and evolutionary aspects of ecology, cell biology, molecular genetics and population genetics.

Evolution Readiness

From the Concord Consortium, this online introduction to natural selection targets 4th graders.

ENSI/SENSI (Evolution and the Nature of Science Institutes) Evolution Lessons

The main objective of ENSI is to improve the teaching of evolution in High School Biology courses by encouraging teachers to teach evolutionary thinking in the context of a more complete understanding of modern scientific thinking (see Nickels et alarticle on this site). Lesson links are first on page, but summaries are offered further down the page. There are also lessons for the Nature of Science and Origins of Life.

Evolutionary Studies Program at Binghamton (EvoS)

This program uses evolution as a unifying theme across disciplines, including not only biology but also the fine arts and social sciences.  The site contains information about the program, references and links to useful materials for learning about evolution in general, videos of the seminar series and information about how to start your own EvoS program.

Human Evolution Sites:

Atapuerca Live

A web site focusing on human evolution. Includes a digital time line and information about archaeology research.  Available in Spanish and English.

Becoming Human

Becoming Human brings together interactive multimedia, research and scholarship to promote greater understanding of the course of human evolution

The Genographic Project

National Geographic's "Genographic Project is seeking to chart new knowledge about the migratory history of the human species ...closing the gaps of what science knows today about humankind's ancient migration stories."

Human Evolution: the fossil evidence in 3D

"Welcome to the UCSB online 3D gallery of modern primate relatives and fossil ancestors of humans. This gallery contains five modern primate crania, and five fossil crania. The crania can be rotated 360 degrees. Each cranium is accompanied by a short description of its relevance to human evolution, and a site map."

Human Origins

From the Dolan DNA Learning Center, this module explores human evolutionary history using a variety of approaches including phylogeny, behavior, morphology, and genetics. 

The Meaning of Sex: Genes and Gender

This Holiday Lecture from HHMI focuses on sex determination, and in the process covers evolution of the Y chromosome.  In addition to full lectures, there are short clips and animations. 

The Smithsonian Institution Human Origins Program

An information site based on field work in paleontology.

Laboratory Exercises in Evolution

A CCLI project providing outlines of laboratory exercises for undergraduate education.  The collection includesmulti-week, one day, and one hour labs as well as field exercises.


"MERLOT is a leading edge, user-centered, searchable collection of peer reviewed, higher education, online learning materials created by registered members, and a set of faculty development support services. MERLOT's vision is to be a premiere online community where faculty, staff, and students from around the world share their learning materials and pedagogy"

MUSE Natural Selection

This site by MUSE (Modeling for Understanding in Science Education) has a collection of lessons for presenting the concept of natural selection, including the nature of scientific arguments, an introduction to explanatory models, Darwin's natural selection, and natural selection as applied to anomalous phenomena. Supporting teacher's guides and information are also presented.

National Academies of Science

Evolution Resources from the National Academies including publications such as Science, Evolution and Creationism and Teaching About Evolution and the Nature of Science, and other resources.

Natural Selection and Variation in Birds
Level: Advanced middle school, high school, introductory college

Time: Two 50 minute class periods

Overview: A single lesson to introduce students to the concept of variation within a population.  Students measure a particular trait (bill size) in a collection of specimens and analyze the distribution within a population.  Excellent materials and teacher guide.

Nowhere to Hide

Level:  Elementary and middle school

Time:  30 minutes

This is a simple, easy to use, computerized animation of the classic peppered moth example.  Students control the level of pollution and watch the results as insects are consumed by birds and then reproduce.  There are no supporting materials for analysis or discussion.

NOVA Becoming Human

A three part series on human evolution, with supporting educational materials and an updated website.

NOVA Judgement Day

A collection of materials developed in conjunction with the NOVA special on the Dover vs Kitzmiller trial. The program is available online, or the DVD can be ordered.  Although the entire program is 2 hours long, it has been divided into 12 chapters for online viewing.  Resources for students include information about fossil evidence, defining science, how science has supported Darwin's predictions, and a collection of video and audio clips.  Resources for teachers are also available.

NOVA The Four-winged Dinosaur

This website has interactive activities for students to explore one dinosaur's flight capability.

NSTA Galapagos Education Site

Looking for educational activities about the Galapagos Islands? Need an entertaining options for teaching students about ecology and evolution? Planning a class trip to the Imax ™ film Galapagos? You're in the right place! Explore Galapagos Guide to see, hear, and learn about the island wildlife, landscape, and even about the undersea submersible used by scientists in the film to explore the Galapagos waters. Classroom investigations contains downloadable and online activities to use at home or in class. Resources for Teaching Evolution provides information and links on teaching evolution in the classroom.

PBS Evolution: a journey into where we're from and where we're going

This PBS site provides interactive lessons on various aspects of evolution, designed to compliment the video series, but independently useful as well. The site includes a library of videos, lessons, and a teacher's guide

Project Crawfish

This project combines biotechnology and evolution.  The site includes a guide to the Tree of Life project and a primer on phylogenetics.

Science Friday

Each Friday afternoon, National Public Radio program host Ira Flatow brings newsworthy reporting and special guests together during two hour-long segments, broadcast live from 2-4 pm EST. Kids Connection made its debut as a teacher-friendly education component. It offers discussion ideas, activities, selected resources, and related science standards. These link programming to the classroom curriculum and are designed to help teachers freshen and energize the required curricula in middle schools.

Science Netlinks

Science NetLinks is part of the Thinkfinity partnership which provides free, Internet-based content across academic disciplines. Science NetLinks is available through the AAAS and its role is to provide a wealth of standards-based resources for K-12 science educators, including lesson plans, interactives and reviewed Internet resources. Science NetLinks is a dynamic site with new content being added on a regular basis.

Society for the Study of Evolution (SSE)

The website for this national society of evolutionary biologists has a web page of resources for educators.  A compilation of presentations by various members of SSE and the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution (SMBE) can be found here.

Teach Evolution and Make it Revelant

This site has resources and materials for teaching evolution at the pre-college level. Evolution is the unifying principle of biology and this website has everything you need to effectively teach evolution in your classroom.

Timetree of Life

"TimeTree is a public knowledge-base for information on the evolutionary timescale of life. A search utility allows exploration of the thousands of divergence times among organisms in the published literature."

Travels in the Great Tree of Life

A collection of videos and student friendly lessons on phylogeny from the Peabody Museum of Natural History.

Understanding Evolution

This web site hosted by the University of California Museum of Paleontology has on line lessons on the evolution, including the history of evolution science, evolution in the news, explanations of the mechanisms of evolution, and examples of evolution

University of Wisconsin-Whitewater Developing a Research-Rich Introductory Biology Curriculum 

These exercises  were developed with funding from NSF's CCLI program with the goal of bringing more inquiry into introductory biology laboratories (and to some extent lectures) and emphasizing evolution and comparative biology. They include multi-week laboratory modules, additional handouts that supplement the module write-ups, exercises intended to enhance interactivity in lectures and simulation-based exercises to be completed outside of the classroom in support of lecture topics.

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Suggested Textbooks and Reviews

'Evolutionary Biology' and his new one 'Evolution', by Doug Futuyma

The book 'Evolution' is a readily recognized descendant of the author's previous textbook, Evolutionary Biology. However, it is much shorter and is exclusively directed toward an undergraduate audience (description from Amazon). If you order a teacher version of the book 'Evolution' it comes along with a CD that contains powerpoint lectures for each chapter.

Evolutionary Analysis (4th edition) by Freeman & Herron.

This book comes with quite a few instructor resources, including a CD with every graphic and picture from the book to facilitate creating powerpoints.

Other highly recommended textbooks for an introduction in evolution are:

The new textbook 'Evolution', by Nicholas H. Barton, Derek E.G. Briggs, Jonathan A. Eisen, David B. Goldstein, Nipam H. Patel - coming out soon and being highly recommended

'Evolution: an introduction' by Stephen C. Stearns & Rolf F.Hoekstra

'Evolution' by Mark Ridley

'What Evolution Is
' by Ernst Mayr

'A Very Short Introduction to Evolution' (Oxford University Press, 2003) by Brian Charlesworth and Deborah Charlesworth.

'Discovering Evolutionary Ecology' by Mayhew, Oxford Univ Press, 2006

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Video and Audio Lecture Collection

Evolution in the News podcasts

This collection of 10-15 minute interviews with scientists is part of the Evolution in the News series by Understanding Evolution and NESCent.

Evolution Matters: The Diversity of Development

2007-08 Evolution Matters Lecture Series from UC San Diego Biological Sciences Dept.

Dr. Steve Kay on Clockwork Genes: Biological Rhythms in Health and Agriculture

Dr. William McGinnis on Embryos and Evolution

Dr. Christopher Wills on the The Evolution of Complexity: From the Human Brain to the Rainforest

Dr. Martin Yanofsky on Unravelling the Mysteries of Flower Formation

Dr. Ajit Varki on The Genetics of Primate Evolution: A Rosetta Stone for Understanding Human Disease

Evolution of Life

Videos depicting the origin of life, Charles Darwin's work, and modern evolutionary research.

Evolution Symposium

This annual event at the National Association of Biology Teachers is co-sponsored by NESCent and AIBS (American Institute of Biological Sciences).  The symposia are on a different topic each year, and leading researchers give presentations on their work.  Educational resources are compiled in associated CDs, which are posted on line as well.

Explore Evolution

Fromt the Unversity of Nebraska State Museum and, a series of six videos featuring Richard Dawkins explaining evolutionary concepts and Michael Shermer describing the "Baloney Detection Kit."

Holiday Lectures by Howard Hughes Medical Institute

A series of lectures by leading scientists on a variety of topics. Targeted toward high school students.

Howard Hughes Medical Institue(HHMI) BioInteractive: Evolution Videos

A series of free video clips on evolution available online at the HHMI website.

Stickleback Fossil Primer

A brief introduction to how stickleback fossils are collected and used to study evolution. It also shows the students who attended the 2005 Holiday Lectures taking part in a fossil-collecting activity. Also featured on the DVD Evolution: Constant Change and Common Threads, available free from HHMI. Order DVD here.

9 minutes, 25 MB

Breeding Corn from Teosinte

Corn was originally bred from the teosinte plant by native Mexican farmers. The morphologies of modern-day corn and teosinte plants are compared to illustrate how artificial selection can bring about dramatic changes in plants. Also featured on the DVD Evolution: Constant Change and Common Threads, available free from HHMI. Order DVD here.

52 seconds

Dog Breeding

The many forms of dogs that exist today were all created through selective breeding from the dog's ancestor, the wolf. In a span of less than 10,000 years, breeders have changed traits and body shapes of dogs by artificial selection-for example, emphasizing different aspects of hunting and herding behavior. Also featured on the DVD Evolution: Constant Change and Common Threads, available free from HHMI. Order DVD here.

1 minute 52 seconds

Fruit Fly Courtship

Male courtship dances in two fruit fly species show that the wing spots play a prominent role. Also featured on the DVD Evolution: Constant Change and Common Threads, available free from HHMI. Order DVD here.

55 seconds

Galapagos Creatures

These are some of the animal species Charles Darwin would have seen when he visited the Galapagos Islands. Also featured on the DVD Evolution: Constant Change and Common Threads, available free from HHMI. Order DVD here.

24 seconds

Stickleback Environment

At the end of the ice age, the retreating ice sheet created many new lakes, some of which were colonized by sticklebacks. The presence of different predators in different lakes dictated the subsequent evolution of each isolated lake stickleback over the course of about 10,000 years. Some groups kept their spines to use against predatory fish, such as trout. Others lost their spines, perhaps to evade aquatic insect predators. Also featured on the DVD Evolution: Constant Change and Common Threads, available free from HHMI. Order DVD here.

1 minute 26 seconds

Fossil Record of Stickleback Evolution

A quarry site in Nevada carries the evolutionary history of a population of stickleback fish that resided there when it was a freshwater lake. In a short time span in evolutionary terms—about 10,000 years—the fish population can be seen to dramatically reduce the size of their pelvic spines. This particular fossil record is remarkably complete with nearly year-by-year detail which includes documentation of intermediate forms. Also featured on the DVD Evolution: Constant Change and Common Threads, available free from HHMI. Order DVD here.

1 minute 26 seconds

Stickleback Fish on Jeopardy!

The identity of the stickleback fish stumps the contestants on the game show. Also featured on the DVD Evolution: Constant Change and Common Threads, available free from HHMI. Order DVD here.

2 minutes 2 seconds

Interview with Sean Carroll

An interview with Dr. Carroll. Also featured on the DVD Evolution: Constant Change and Common Threads, available free from HHMI. Order DVD here.

4 minutes 55 seconds

Interview with David Kingsley

An interview with Dr. Kingsley. Also featured on the DVD Evolution: Constant Change and Common Threads, available free from HHMI. Order DVD here.

4 minutes 41 seconds

Interview with Stephanie Nuñez

An interview with Stephanie Nuñez, an HHMI EXROP student in Dr. Kingsley's lab. Also featured on the DVD Evolution: Constant Change and Common Threads, available free from HHMI. Order DVD here.

4 minutes 37 seconds

Interview with Chris Hittinger

An interview with Chris Hittinger, a scientist in Dr. Carroll's lab. Also featured on the DVD Evolution: Constant Change and Common Threads, available free from HHMI. Order DVD here.

4 minutes 45 seconds


Life. A Journey Through Time

This site has a timeline, coupled with beautiful photographs, loosely demonstrating the development of life through modern times.  A sound track makes it an experience, as well as educational.

National Public Radio

Science Fridays by National Public Radio
Reports on recent scientific discoveries or applications. Assumes a general audience.
Click here for supporting educational materials.

“The Making of the Fittest: DNA and the Ultimate Forensic Record of Evolution”

Oct. 20, 2006 (25 min 50 sec)

Sean Carroll talks about his new book on genetic fossils and how they record evolution.

The Wide Scope of the 'Encyclopedia of Life'

May 11, 2007 (7 min 44 sec)

E.O. Wilson talks about the Encyclopedia of Life project.

Botanist Carl Linneaus Recalled for Classifying Plants

May 26, 2007 (5 min 8 sec)

Celebrating the 300 anniversary of Linnaeaus' birth.

Finding Fossils Along U.S. Freeways

Nov. 24, 2007 (7 min 51 sec)

A paleontologist and artist talk about their tour of the western U.S. that lead to the book"Cruisin' the Fossil Freeway".

'Animal, Vegetable, Fungi' Lesson Revised

Dec. 1, 2007 (9 min 22 sec)

Science writer Carl Zimmer gives a guided tour of the way scientific classification has changed.

New York Times Science

  • Regular pieces by Sean Carroll
  • Regular pieces by Olivia Judson
  • Video interviews and stories

Power of Ten

The ultimate Eamesian expression of systems and connections, Powers of Ten explores the relative size of things from the microscopic to the cosmic. The 1977 film travels from an aerial view of a man in a Chicago park to the outer limits of the universe directly above him and back down into the microscopic world contained in the man's hand. Powers of Ten illustrates the universe as an arena of both continuity and change, of everyday picnics and cosmic mystery. The film also demonstrates the Eameses' ability to make science both fascinating and accessible.   Registration is required, but the site is free.

Provost's Lecture Series by Duke University
Collection of lectures on scientific and social themes. This year's theme is Science, Religion and Evolution. Targeted to the academic community.

Scientific American Podcasts

Free podcasts of interviews and 60-second science clips.  Of particular interest in evolution, Sean Carroll was interviewed October 25, 2006.

Science Update by Science
Short (>5 minute) audio reports on recent scientific developments. Targeted to a general audience.

Travels in the Great Tree of Life

A short video about phylogenetics from the Peabody Museum of Natural History. 

Teachers' Domain

This site has a collection of video clips, articles and other resources on a variety of topics.  Registration is required, but the site is free.

Virtual Library by AIBS
A collection of video lectures by various scientists. Also includes lectures by scientists from AIBS meetings. The site is free, but does require registration. Targeted toward scientists.




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