Reflection: Student Ownership Adaptation, Selection and Evolution: How environments shape species - Section 3: Discussion


I always like it when students take one of my questions in a completely different direction than I intended.  In the case of this student's pre-discussion homework, they took my question about isolated human populations (where my intention was for them to understand that we remain the same species because we haven't been consistently isolated to divide into separate species) and went the other direction by discussing how our differences could be explained, in part, by adapting to different environments.

If you can't read the student's handwriting, they wrote: 

"Human populations have been isolated for that long because before there were planes and cars we didn't have many ways of transportation.  We were isolated [from] people in the other side of the world.  The evidence that suggests this is our hair color, color of our eyes, or color of our skin."


When I saw what this (shy) student had written on their pre-discussion form, I knew I wanted to bring up their point.  I asked students why those different traits may represent adaptations to different environments (e.g., darker or lighter skin as a function of proximity to the equator), and we had a good discussion that ultimately went somewhere more timely and relevant for my students: "if scientists understand our differences are only skin deep, then how come people are still getting killed over these little differences?"

  Student Ownership: Letting Students Guide the Direction of a Discussion
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Adaptation, Selection and Evolution: How environments shape species

Unit 3: Ecology
Lesson 7 of 8

Big Idea: The scientific information obtained by environmental scientists is neutral and objective. How that information is interpreted depends on the subjective personal ethics and worldview of individuals.

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