Evolution and natural selection - Stage 5 Teacher Notes

Information for teachers preparing students for a self-guided exploration of the Surviving Australia exhibition at the Australian Museum.

Diprotodon reconstruction

Photographer: James King © Australian Museum

Before your visit

Syllabus links

This program has direct links to the New South Wales Board of Studies Science 7-10 Syllabus document.
Prescribed focus areas, knowledge, understanding and skills for Stage 5 Science:

  • 5.3 the applications and uses of science
  • 5.4 the implications of science for society and the environment
  • 5.5 current issues, research and develop-ments in science
  • 5.8.2 the Watson-Crick model of DNA
  • 5.8.3 the theory of evolution and natural selection
  • 5.9.2 ... plate tectonics
  • 5.10 ecosystems
  • 5.12 technology
  • 5.16 gathering information from secondary sources
  • 5.18 presenting information
  • 5.19 thinking critically
  • 5.21 the use of creativity and imagination
  • 5.22.1 working individually
  • 5.22.2 working in teams
Pre-visit activities

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

  • introducing concepts related to evolution, natural selection and adaptations
  • introducing or revising relevant terminology used in the Evolution and natural selection student activity sheets
  • 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.

Please photocopy the following materials for each student:

The following materials should be photocopied for each supervising adult:

At the Australian Museum

On-site activities: Evolution and natural selection

The Evolution and natural selection - Stage 5 Student Activities are based on displays in the Australian Museum's Surviving Australia exhibition located on Level 2 of the Museum.

The activities enable students to explore concepts related to evolution, natural selection, adaptations and diversity while surrounded by a rich array of live and prepared specimens.
There are six self-guided activities based in different sections of the Surviving Australia exhibition. The activities are:

  1. Megafauna birds from Australia's past
  2. The importance of environment
  3. Penguin diversity - related but different
  4. Adapting to environmental challenges on land and in freshwater
  5. Adapt or die: specialists over time
  6. Cloning the Tasmanian Tiger
The Surviving Australia exhibition

The Surviving Australia exhibition is divided into six main thematic areas:

  • Blue Edge
  • Island Homes
  • Our Backyard
  • Dangerous Australians
  • Adapt or die
  • Where are They Now?

A separate Surviving Australia Exhibition Guide details the content of the exhibition.

Organisational tips
  • Use the Australian Museum Guide Map to guide the students to the Surviving Australia exhibition on level 2 of the Museum.
  • There are six activities in the Evolution and natural selection - Stage 5 Student Activities sheets and each one will take students 10-15 minutes to complete. Depending on the time you have available in the exhibition we suggest that teachers select several core activities for the students to concentrate on while at the Museum (perhaps 4-5 activities for 1 hour in the exhibition).
  • Students should also be allowed some supervised time to explore the exhibition so they may explore any displays that capture their interest. This could be combined with an informal discussion back at school - 'what most captured my interest and why'.
  • Advise the students that each activity is located in a different section of the exhibition.
  • Activities 1 and 6, which view the audiovisuals in the Scientists' Stories mini theatrette may be completed in large groups of up to 15 students at a time. We suggest that half the class begins with Activity 1 and/or 6 while the other half completes these activities last after finishing their other core activities selected from Activities 2-5. Note that the Scientists' Stories presented in the mini theatrette are shown in a fixed order, so there could be up to a 10-minute wait for a particular story to begin.
  • For Activities 2-5, organise the students to break into small groups. Each group should be given a different activity to start with then asked to rotate through the various activities in order to avoid overcrowding of the displays.

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