YOU'RE THE SCIENTIST!

YOUR EVOLUTIONARY FAMILY TREE

A project-based lesson for understanding the shared evolutionary history among all living things

In this lesson, students use the Scientific Method to discover
the shared evolutionary history between and among primate species, including humans.

Phylogeny and evolution reinforce the fact that humans are one animal species among many, that we are all related through evolutionary history, and that each plays an important role in Mother Nature’s biodiversity.

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INTRODUCTION

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I’m Abby and I’m a scientist. I developed this lesson with NEPC to guide you through the steps of creating an evolutionary family tree.

Scientists use the scientific method to answer questions, investigate hypotheses, and better understand the world around them. It hinges upon experimentation and empirical evidence.

Each step includes instructions, examples, and labs. The instructions and examples include videos and models to guide students through the scientific method process, including how to use it to develop their own evolutionary family tree in the Lab section of each step.

GOALS:

    • Learn our evolutionary relationships to our closest living relatives in the animal kingdom
    • Learn the vast amount of similarities—physical and behavioral—between us and other great apes

OBJECTIVES:

Students will be able to:

    • Use the scientific method to answer scientific questions
    • Understand the concept of phylogeny
    • Identify important details in text readings

GLOSSARY OF TERMS

Empirical evidence: information received by means of the senses, particularly by observation and documentation of patterns and behavior through experimentation

Phylogeny: the history of the evolution of a species or group, especially in reference to lines of descent and relationships among broad groups of organisms

Phylogenetic tree: a diagram that represents evolutionary relationships among organisms

Taxonomy: scientific classification or naming of organisms 

Pronunciation Key

Phylogeny: fai·laa·juh·nee

Phylogenetic: fai·low·juh·neh·tuhk

THE PROCESS

During this Lab, you will follow along in your Lab Notebook as you record and complete each of the steps of the scientific method. Once you have finished the lesson, you will have a complete Lab Notebook which will include Venn diagrams, a bar graph, and a phylogenetic tree.

​Before beginning your Lab, download and print your 10-page Lab Notebook. 
Click here for your Lab Notebook template.

ACTION STEPS

8 steps lead you to your conclusions:

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LEARNING GOALS

FOR TEACHERS:

COMMON CORE STANDARDS, STEAM INTEGRATION, and STATE STANDARDS

This project supports many critical skills and standards across grade levels, including these common core standards:

Language Arts:
Reading: Informational Text 
Key Ideas and Details Standards
Integration and Knowledge of ideas

Writing:
Text Types and Purposes: Write informative explanatory text
Production and Distribution of writing
Research to Build and Present Knowledge

Science and Technical Subjects:
Key Ideas and Details
Craft and Structure
Integration of Knowledge and Ideas

Will meet individual state secondary school science standards on how biological evolution accounts for the unity and diversity among living organisms. 

If you are a teacher who is interested in using this project for your class, and would like assistance in determining how it meets your individual state’s standards and STEAM integration, or how to differentiate across grade levels, please write us at: [email protected]

Lesson developed by Abigail Colby, 2020
 
Copyright © New England Primate Conservancy 2020-2022. You may freely use, copy and share these Learning Activities for educational purposes. 
For questions or comments, e-mail us at [email protected]