Teaching Evolution Using Live Animals and Inquiry-Based, Self-Guided Kits

  • E. Dale Broder
  • Emily A. Kane


The authors describe their experiences with evolution and science education and how this led to their interest in inquiry-based teaching. Inquiry-based evolution education programs should be effective but are relatively uncommon, likely because of the resources and expertise required to create them. University/K-12 collaborations may be a solution but tend to be limited in their reach. Kit-based teaching allows inquiry-based evolution programs to be more broadly disseminated. Kits may also improve engagement and science self-efficacy since students take ownership of their learning and independently master science tasks. We describe an inquiry-based kit that we developed in collaboration with local teachers and an Education and Outreach Center at Colorado State University. We used three populations of locally adapted fish, Trinidadian guppies, to illustrate important concepts in evolution. Students work through the self-guided kit and booklet to complete inquiry and authentic science experiments and observations. These activities allow them to discover each concept and the definition of evolution at the end of the program. We describe the kit in detail and reflect on the challenges and successes associated with its creation and implementation.


Science Teaching Teaching Evolution Authentic Science Local Teacher Male Guppy 
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Photos taken by E.A. Kane and E.D. Broder. We would like to thank Andrew Warnock, Courtney Butler, and Lynne Judish from the Colorado State University College of Natural Sciences Education and Outreach Center for helping to develop and implement the self-guided kits. We would like to thank local teachers Stephanie Simmons, Sarah Warren, Kaitlin Knudson, Charme Glitzke, and Milinda Montgomery for their assistance in developing and implementing the original program on which we based these kits. Numerous volunteers have provided valuable assistance, including Alisha Shah, Ty Fiero, and the CSU guppy group. We would also like to thank Drs. Cameron Ghalambor and Lisa Angeloni in the Biology Department at CSU for their financial and intellectual support. Funding for the kits was provided by the National Science Foundation (awards DEB-0846175, DEB-1146489, and DBI-1401560). This work was approved by the CSU Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (15-5675A).

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • E. Dale Broder
    • 1
  • Emily A. Kane
    • 2
  1. 1.Interdisciplinary Research Incubator for the Study of (in)EqualityUniversity of DenverDenver, COUSA
  2. 2.Department of BiologyGeorgia Southern UniversityStatesboro, GAUSA

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