Lesson Plans & Lectures

Free Lesson Plans, Lectures, Courses, Links to Resources, in Organismal Biology, Evolution, Health Promotion, Obesity Prevention


We use Articulate Storyline 2 to create online versions of course lectures (HTML5).  These also look great on an iPad after you download their free Articulate Mobile Player from the iTunes store.  Storyline 2 also publishes for Android devices, via the free player available at Google Play.  Thus, course materials can be viewed easily from smart devices, which may increase the amount of time students spend studying.

These lectures include hotlinks to further information, including topics that should be considered prerequisites for the material being covered.  Most of these online lectures will include quizzes so students can check their comprehension.  Feel free to uses these materials in your own courses.  

Eventually, we plan to have entire courses online and freely available -- please contact us if you would like to collaborate. 



Born to Run (middle-school, but easily scaled to high school or college)
       Science Scope article about the lesson plan
Lecture (slides) giving the background (presented to 7th grade)
       Video of the lecture being presented 
       Short video about using the Lesson Plan (useful for teachers in particular)
Overview:  Students rarely get opportunities for inquiry-based learning when they study evolution. Most of their hands-on learning experiences are simulations or involve reviewing data that has already been collected. In this lesson, students examine the changes in leg bones of mice that have been artificially selected in the laboratory for high levels of wheel running. Wheel running by laboratory rodents can be viewed as a model of human voluntary exercise or as a model of the daily movements that other animals exhibit in nature, so it has relevance for both applied and basic science. As the wheel-running behavior of the "High Runner" lines of mice has evolved across tens of generations, many other changes have also been observed in the mice, encompassing other behaviors, physiology, and morphology. Students develop hypotheses about how the thigh bones (femurs) of animals that are good runners might be different from those that are not. They develop a protocol for testing their hypothesis by use of digital photographs to measure the bones of selected and control animals (taken from generation 11), and then analyze their data to determine if their hypotheses were supported. 

Nature or Nurture? Heritability in the Classroom (college or advanced high school) 
     Peer-reviewed publication about the exercise: Hiramatsu and Garland (2016)
     Heritability Exercise  [Word]  [PDF]
     Heritability Exercise Teacher Packet (includes background material and links to additional resources) [Word]  [PDF]
Overview:  From intelligence to laziness, artistic talent to how likely you are to become bald, people want to know, and debate about, whether traits are passed down from parents (“nature”) or affected by environment (“nurture”). In reality, the question is not “nature or nurture”, but to what extent each affects traits. In this exercise, students will learn about the importance of nature and nurture in determining phenotypic differences among individuals by collecting data on themselves and their parents to estimate heritability. With instructor guidance, students will decide the traits that can be easily and reliably quantified (measured) for both themselves and their parents. Students will also develop their own hypotheses about how and why different traits have higher or lower narrow-sense heritability, and factors that could affect those estimates.  

Nature or Nurture? Heritability in the Middle School Classroom 
     Heritability Exercise Middle School  [Word]  [PDF]
     Genetics & Heritability online lecture for background/pre-teaching or as a flipped classroom  

Simulating Random Genetic Drift (college or high school)
    Student Online Lecture, which links to simulation program
     Lesson Plan for teachers  [Word]  [PDF
     Teacher Packet  [Word]  [PDF]

Nutrition’s Seven Basics: The Good, The Bad, and The Costly (middle school, but easily scaled to high school or college)
     Nutrition Lesson Plan  [Word]  [PDF]
     Nutritional Predictions handout  [Word]  [PDF]
     Student Food Plan handout  [Excel]  [PDF]
Overview: The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommend that the average adult or child over the age of four consume the following dietary amounts per day: under 2,000 calories, under 65 grams (g) of fat, under 44 milligrams (mg) of cholesterol, under 2,400 mg of sodium, under 300 g of carbohydrates, at least 50 g of protein, and at least 25 g of dietary fiber.  In this exercise, students will attempt to devise a one-day food plan which meets all of the dietary requirements listed above using an imaginary budget of $10.  Students will research the nutritional content of their food choices either at the grocery store or using a computer/smart phone, followed by an analysis of their food plan for both nutritional value and cost effectiveness.  To simplify this exercise, we will be considering macronutrients only.  It becomes much more complicated to consider micronutrients, such as vitamins. 

Champs, Chirps, and Twerps: What do we choose in mates?
     Online Lecture for Students & Teacher:   Champs, Chirps, and Twerps: What do we choose in mates? 
Natural selection leads to the evolution of a species. It consists of survival to reproductive age and the number of offspring that is produced (reproductive success). Survival to reproductive age can still result in zero fitness if the individual does not reproduce. Natural variations exist among individuals and, if they are heritable, selection for these traits in the form of female preference can lead to evolutionary change by constricting the reproductive success of males. The lesson starts out with an introduction to heritable song variations among cricket families and leads into why these variations could be important components of the fitness of the individuals. The idea of female mate choice for these song variations is then used to emphasize that reproductive success is the bottom line of natural selection. Students design an experiment testing which components of the cricket song the females prefer and test their hypotheses by measuring the song components using provided songs and analyzing a dataset from a working laboratory.




The Scientific Method as an Ongoing Process, for high school or college (Dr. Theodore Garland, Jr.):
The Scientific Method as an Ongoing Process

The Morphology --> Performance --> Behavior --> Fitness Paradigm (MPBF)

From Human Reproduction and Sexual Behavior at Texas Tech University (Dr. Breanna N. Harris):
Critical Thinking 
Introduction to Research

From Biology 105 Evolution, taught at UCR (Dr. Theodore Garland, Jr.):
Trade-Offs and Constraints
Hybrid Zones, Character Displacement, Geographic Variation, Clines
Adaptation and the Comparative Method 1 
Adaptive Radiation and Convergent Evolution 
Sexual Selection: an Overview 
Extinction and Evolutionary Trends

From Biology 171  Human Anatomy and Physiology, taught at UCR (Dr. Wendy Saltzman):
Female Reproductive Physiology

From Biology 174 Ecological and Evolutionary Physiology, taught at UCR (Dr. Theodore Garland, Jr.):
Phenotypic Plasticity
Why Organisms are Not Optimal
Individual Variation 1
Quantitative Genetics 1

Hemoglobin Polymorphisms in Deer Mice 1 (guest lecture by Dr. Mark A. Chappell)

From Biology 178 Hormones and Behavior, taught at UCR (Dr. Wendy Saltzman):
Introduction to Behavioral Endocrinology
Sexual Differentiation

Related Lecture (Dr. Wendy Saltzman)
Hormones and Mental Health in the Perinatal Period

From Towson University (Dr. Christopher E. Oufiero):
Sexual Selection Costs & Compensations

From Hamilton College (Dr. Cynthia J. Downs):
An Introduction to Vertebrate Ecological Immunology

From Indiana University-Purdue University (Dr. William E. Cooper):
Introduction to Animal Behavior
Antipredatory Behavior 1
Antipredatory Behavior 3: Defenses if Overtaken
Fossils and the Geological Timescale 

From University of Massachusetts, Amherst (Dr. Teri J. Orr):
Undergraduate Course in Animal Behavior
1. An Introduction to Animal Behavior
2. An Introduction to Animal Behavior: Part II - the Ethologists

Principles of Relative and Absolute Dating (Dr. Nigel C. Hughes, UCR)

Size and Distance of Solar System Objects (Dr. Nigel C. Hughes, UCR)



Guppy Guppy Evolution free in the iTunes store



Evolution: Artificial Selection and Natural Selection

Evolution in Action: Guppy Coloration as an Example of Rapid Evolution in the Wild and Sexual Selection



Fail Lab: Episode One - Evolution 


Do you have lectures, videos or other materials  you would like to contribute?  Please contact us!

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File name. Author. Date. Date accessed. URL (full web address)