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Classroom Resource
The Making of a Theory—Fact or Fiction


This activity supports the viewing of the film The Origin of Species: The Making of a Theory. Before and after watching the film, students discuss and evaluate several statements about Charles Darwin, Alfred Russel Wallace, and the specific evidence that led each of them to the theory of evolution by natural selection. 

Students evaluate several claims based on previous knowledge and information and evidence presented in the film. They also participate in a collaborative discussion of their interpretation of the evidence with their peers. The activity serves as an anticipation guide to focus students on several key concepts covered in the film, such as the natural origin of species and natural selection and adaptation. It can also be used as a pre- and post-assessment.

Curriculum Connections:

AP (201213 Standards)
1.A.1, 1.A.2, 1.A.4

IB (2009 Standards)
5.4, D2, D5

Middle school: MS-LS2-2, MS-LS2-4, MS-LS4-1, MS-LS4-2, MS-ESS2-3, MS-LS2.A, MS-LS2.C, MS-LS4.A, MS-LS4.B, MS-LS4.C, MS-ETS1.B
High school: HS-LS4-1, HS-LS4-5, HS-LS4.B, HS-LS4.C

Common Core
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.8.1, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.8.1, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.8.2, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.8.6, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RST.6-8.4, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RST.9-10.4, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.9-10.1, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.9-10.6, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.9-10.2, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RST.11-12.4, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.11-12.1, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.11-12.1, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.11-12.4, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.11-12.6

Supporting Materials (5)

Short Film
The epic voyages of Darwin and Wallace led each to independently discover the natural origin of species and to formulate the theory of evolution by natural selection.
Film Guides
The following classroom-ready resources complement The Origin of Species: The Making of a Theory, which tells the story of the epic adventures of Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace and of the evidence they gathered for the theory of evolution by means of natural selection.
Classroom Resource
Students are challenged to identify “fact patterns,” or patterns that emerge from a collection of different facts and observations, and draw conclusions about what they suggest.
Classroom Resource
This activity supports the HHMI short film The Origin of Species: The Making of a Theory. Students are presented with a map of the Malay Archipelago and some field notebooks with observations of animals. By plotting which animals are found on which island, the students discover the Wallace Line—a sharp boundary that separates distinct Asian and Australian fauna. 
Classroom Resource
A text transcript of the short film "The Making of a Theory" from the Origin of Species short film series.

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