HomeHHMI's BioInteractiveStickleback Evolution Virtual Lab


Free Resources for Science Education

Virtual Lab
Stickleback Evolution Virtual Lab


This virtual lab teaches skills of data collection and analysis to study evolutionary processes using stickleback fish and fossil specimens.

Start Virtual Lab

The Stickleback Evolution Virtual Lab will introduce you to the science and techniques used to analyze the forms and structures of organisms—in particular, the pelvic structures of the threespine stickleback fish (Gasterosteus aculeatus). The lab includes three experiments in which you will collect and analyze data using photographs of living fish specimens and fossils.

Note: The lab was updated in September 2013!  Improvements include: new videos, an interactive glossary, greatly expanded teacher resources and tips, and the ability to track and store the progress of multiple students working on a single computer. The accompanying worksheets (see Related Materials) have also been revised.

This lab is in HTML5—compatible with mobile devices!

The following browsers are supported and recommended for this virtual lab. Please be sure that JavaScript and cookies are enabled and your pop-up blocker is disabled.

  • Google Chrome version 9 or greater.
  • Mozilla Firefox version 9 or greater.
  • Apple Safari version 5 or greater.
  • Microsoft Internet Explorer version 8 or greater. 


  •  2013 Communicator Awards; Silver Award of Distinction

Supporting Materials (5)

Short Film
After the end of the last ice age 10,000 years ago, populations of marine stickleback fish became stranded in freshwater lakes dotted throughout the Northern Hemisphere in places of natural beauty like Alaska and British Columbia. These remarkable little fish have adapted and thrive, living permanently in a freshwater environment drastically different than the ocean.
Classroom Resource
A hands-on activity in which students analyze the results of genetic crosses between stickleback fish with different traits.
Classroom Resource
A hands-on activity in which students interpret molecular diagrams and build physical models of eukaryotic gene regulation.
Classroom Resource
A worksheet that guides students through The Stickleback Evolution Virtual Lab. The virtual lab lets students learn firsthand the methods for analyzing body structure in stickleback collected from lakes and fossils recovered from a quarry. Students measure, record, and graph their results to discover evolutionary patterns.
Film Guides
These classroom-ready resources complement the short film Evolving Switches, Evolving Bodies, which tells the story of the dramatic transformation of stickleback fish as they adapted to living in freshwater habitats drastically different from the ocean.

Available for Order


Identify bacteria, examine heart patients, probe the nervous system, assay antibodies, study circadian rhythms, and analyze evolution in action.

Order now