February 12th is Charles Darwin's birthday, now known as "Darwin Day". This is a great opportunity to thank Darwin for his contributions to science and learn through some great adaptation and natural selection activities. Who knows, you might even want to throw a Darwin Day party!
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Charles Darwin is known for summing up evidence for the theory of evolution and developing the theory of natural selection through his travels on the HMS Beagle. His book, On the Origin of Species, shaped modern biology and evolutionary theory. Some of Darwin's most interesting work, and what I believe to be the best introduction point for children, was on the diversity of species, particularly the adaptations of island finches.
|Voyage of the HMS Beagle. |
© Sémhur / Wikimedia Commons, via Wikimedia Commons
Darwin observed the finches on the Galapagos islands and found that their beaks varied due to the different types of food and environments on each island. Variation is not only seen in bird beaks around the world, but across bird species. A wonderful hands-on way to engage students in the idea of adaptation is to have them model how these various bird beaks work.
|Darwin's Finches. By John Gould (14.Sep.1804 - 3.Feb.1881) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons|
The following lesson plans outline similar activities:
- Science Netlinks: Bird Beaks (includes all directions and printables)
- US National Park Service: Birds, Beaks, and Adaptations
For more excellent lesson plans and activity ideas for Darwin Day, check out these links:
- Science Netlinks: Charles Darwin and On the Origin of Species
- How To Smile- Science and Math Activities: Darwin
Wouldn't it be fun to throw a Darwin party after you explore adaptation science? Here are just a few fun ideas for you!
- Read the book, Who Was Charles Darwin?
- Give out Darwin buttons as party favors!
- Decorate with life size Darwin decals and cardboard cut-outs!
- Have a talented actor come portray Darwin and answer student's questions.
- Combine your Valentine's and Darwin celebrations by handing out some Charles Darwin valentines.
- Visit a local museum that is holding a Darwin Day celebration! Search for events here.