Teaching Evolution Concepts to Early Elementary School Students

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State and national standards call for teaching evolution concepts as early as kindergarten, which provides motivation to continue developing science instruction and curriculum for young learners. The importance of addressing students’ folk theories regarding science justifies teaching evolution early in K-12 education. In this project, we developed, implemented, and researched standards-based lessons to teach elements of evolution (speciation and adaption) to kindergarteners and second graders. Our lessons attended to the students’ prior knowledge, and utilized inquiry and modeling to teach and assess their ability to recognize patterns of similarity and differences among organisms. Using their products and comments as evidence, it was apparent the students were able to communicate recognition of patterns and effectively apply their knowledge in near transfer activities, indicating they achieved our learning objectives. This provides support for teaching evolution concepts in the early grades and evidence of the ability for young children to effectively engage in supported inquiry and modeling for learning science.