Human Evolution Stage 6 - Self-guided Teacher Notes

Human Evolution - Stage 6 Self-guided is for Year 12 Biology students.


Human Evolution - Stage 6 Self-guided is for students undertaking the Year 12 Biology option: Human Story. It uses a large hands-on display Search & Discover exhibition. This display was designed to encourage interactive learning by the general public.

Before your visit

Syllabus links

This program is a valuable resource for the NSW Board of Studies Stage 6 Biology Syllabus Option 9.8 – The Human Story. Excerpts from the syllabus document are detailed below. They indicate major links between this program and the syllabus.

  Students learn to: Students:
3. Debate continues on the relationships between hominid species • ...fossil evidence, including:
– Australopithecus afarensis
– Paranthropus robustus
– Paranthropus boisei
– Australopithecus africanus
– Homo habilis
– Homo ergaster
– Homo erectus
– Homo heidelbergensis
– Homo neanderthalensis
– Homo sapiens
• gather, process, present and analyse information to provide an overview of the similarities and differences of any two species used in tracing human evolutionary relationships
  • compare the above species, including comparisons of:
– body structure
– cranial capacity
– fossil ages and regional locations
– inferred culture
5. Cultural development has been a significant feature of human evolution   • process and analyse information from secondary sources to compare humans with other primates in terms of:
– the development and use of tools

Pre-visit activities

To make the most of your visit to the exhibition we recommend that you prepare your students beforehand by:

  • introducing or revising relevant terminology such as the species names listed in the syllabus
  • providing a context for the excursion to the Museum including the reasons for visiting the Museum, the tasks to be completed and the expected outcomes.

There are no student activity sheets to copy.
The Australian Museum Guide Map should be photocopied for each supervising adult.

At the Australian Museum

The Human Evolution Stage 6 Self-guided program is based on displays located at the far end of the Search & Discover exhibition located on level 2 of the Museum.

Students can explore and take notes as desired. They can compare and contrast some of the structural and cultural evidence that helps us piece together our evolutionary journey by examining a number of key fossil specimens and artefact casts.

The Human Evolution display in the Search & Discover exhibition

The majority of the display considers:

-the four major trends which occurred in human evolution and which ultimately led to the development of our own species, Homo sapiens. These trends are the development of:

  • a) bipedalism (walking upright on two legs)
  • b) shorter jaws with smaller teeth
  • c) larger brains
  • d) increasingly complex forms of technology

-some of the species making up side branches in our evolutionary family tree.

The display allows students to investigate the physical evidence, such as skull casts, replica artefacts and real stone tools as they explore these trends and species.

In addition, there is a small section looking at the latest news in human evolution. Students can read about the latest discoveries here and in the Human Evolution folders on the bookshelves.

Organisational tips
  • Use the Museum Guide Map to guide the students to the Search & Discover exhibition on level 2 of the Museum. The Human Evolution display is at the far end of Search & Discover.
  • We suggest that you divide the students into small groups to avoid overcrowding of the small display area. Up to 12 students could use the display at one time but a smaller group size of up to eight students is recommended. Classes with several groups should rotate so that each group has time to explore the display. 

Ms Helen Wheeler , Education Project Officer
Last Updated:

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