Darwin: our natural selection of the best resources around

By Rachel Hayward | 10 February 2009
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An image of a man with a large white beard.

Charles Darwin, picture courtesy the Natural History Museum. © Natural History Museum

12th February 2009 marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of the world’s most famous naturalist ever, Charles Darwin. We’ve made our own natural selection of highlights that you can use in your teaching.

Darwin200 is a year-long programme of events and activities for all age groups taking place across the UK which set out to explore Darwin ideas, his work and the great man’s legacy. Check out www.darwin200.org for more information, including wonderful free resources such as those funded by the Wellcome Trust for Primary and Secondary schools.

An image from a Darwin activity to show pupils how finches have evolved

Arkive is an online collection of thousands of videos, images and fact-files illustrating the world's species. The website also has Darwin resources for use in the classroom, including the activity about Darwin's finches. Picture courtesy ARKive

Supported by the British Council's Darwin Now initiative, ARKive has produced a selection of Darwin education materials suitable for 11-16 year olds. Based upon Darwin's voyage on the Beagle and his theory of evolution by natural selection, the materials cover a range of subjects including variation, classification, natural selection and identification keys.

Included within the new package are: ARKive themed classroom presentations, a number and variety of classroom activities and links to additional ARKive internet multi-media resources.

An image of a girl holding a magnifying glass up to her eye.

The Great Plant Hunt... Following In Darwin's Footsteps. Picture courtesy Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew.

The Great Plant Hunt is aimed Primary school pupils. Simply register on the site to receive a treasure chest of science-related resources and activities from the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew (RBG Kew). Your class can be exploring habitats, collecting seeds, growing plants and taking part in 'The UK’s biggest school science project!'. Secondary schools have the exciting Survival Rivals. Fun, hands-on experiments, not least 'I'm a Worm, Get Me Out of Here' (exploring natural selection), help Key Stage 3 and 4 and post-16 students get to grips with Darwin's ideas.

There are lots of venues around the UK holding events and exhibitions celebrating Darwin so it's easy to find out about ones near your school.

And if you can get to London, the Natural History Museum's new Darwin Centre is definitely worth a visit.

There are plenty of Darwin-related resources available online from the NHM, including their great interactive, Darwin's Beagle Voyage.

And for those keen to know more about Darwin's famous five-year journey, culminating in his discoveries on the Galapagos Islands, then take a look at The Beagle Project. Here you can find out how the HMS Beagle has been rebuilt and follow the recreation of Darwin's epic voyage. More on the Beagle can be found on a website set up by a Darwin enthusiast www.aboutdarwin.com. It also includes a timeline and an insight into Darwin's family history.

An image of skeletons from monkeys in a glass case.

Darwin's Big Idea Big Exhibition runs until April 19 2008. © Tara Booth / Culture24

On February 13 2009, Darwin's home, Down House in Kent, opens its doors for the first time after being closed for conservation. Here, Darwin researched and wrote, On the Origin of Species.

TES has evolution materials while the BBC also has Darwin-related content.

For more information on Darwin200, why not read Culture24's exclusive interview with Darwin200 co-ordinator, Bob Bloomfield?

More on the venues and organisations we've mentioned:
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