Are you a teacher who needs to teach the Biological Evolution standards for Middle School Science and you are concerned about certain parents being upset? Biological evolution can be a surprisingly controversial topic.
Biological Evolution in Middle School addresses changes in species over time. Students will learn about natural selection and survival of the fittest according to Darwin’s theory. Students will also learn about patterns in the fossil record that show changes in species over time. They will learn about similarities in anatomy and embryology that support the idea of evolution. Students will also learn about artificial selection or selective breeding and the technologies that have enabled scientists to create GMOs, gene therapy, and breed for specific traits.
I like to provide direct information through informational text about natural selection and biological evolution. Then I like students to interact with the materials by asking questions, playing with drag and drop interactive slides, thinking critically, and more.
By the end of elementary school, students should know that individual organisms of the same kind differ in their characteristics and that sometimes these variations give individuals an advantage in surviving and reproducing. In addition, students should be able to look for ways in which organisms in one habitat differ from those in another and to consider how some of those differences are helpful to their survival.
This prerequisite knowledge should help middle-school students take this concept a step further by understanding that individual organisms of different kinds are more likely than others to survive and have offspring because of their particular traits. In addition, by the end of middle school, students should understand that small differences between parent organisms and offspring accumulate arise through genetic mutation. If these variations provide an advantage to the offspring, the offspring may live long enough to breed and pass on these same traits through reproduction. Specific traits that are beneficial may accumulate in a population, which could result in speciation, the separation of a population be characteristics into a separate species from the original population.
We want to also address misconceptions about natural selection. The mice do not turn black because the rocks are dark. Animals do not spontaneously develop a characteristic in response to their environment. The random mutation produces a characteristic purely by chance. It is then the process of natural selection or survival of the fittest that determines if that trait is advantageous to the organism. Many traits arise that make no difference to a species, so they do not get passed on through evolution.