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Evolving Before Our Eyes:

A hands-on approach to teaching evolution in real time

Graduate Fellow Tamara Bhandari & Teacher Partner Camille Fowler 

Evolution is often taught on a macro scale, with a focus on changes to animals over vast periods of time. Such changes are dramatic, but occur on such a long time scale that it can be abstract to the students. This curriculum serves as a supplement to traditional methods of teaching evolution. It gives students the opportunity to design an experiment to make bacteria to evolve so they can apply the concepts of selective pressure, fitness, and adaptation and see evolution happening before their eyes.  

Bacterial Evolution picture

GRADE LEVEL: 9-12 Biology, AP Biology, Undergraduate

DURATION: Variable, but usually a week, comprised of three full 50-minute periods, plus 15 minutes on each of two days. 


Students will be able to:

  • list three examples of ways evolution affects their everyday lives
  • list three ways human behavior promotes the development of antibiotic resistance
  • explain what bacterial characteristics promote the acquisition of antibiotic resistance
  • define “selection pressure”, “fitness”, “adaptation”, and “cost”
  • list the steps involved in designing an experiment
  • analyze and interpret results
  • Students will be able to identify the functions of different regions of the brain.

Download Teacher Guide and Student Worksheets