Small Fish, Big Questions: Inquiry Kits for Teaching Evolution

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The American Biology Teacher






Evolution education poses unique challenges because students can have preconceptions that bias their learning. Hands-on, inquiry approaches can help overcome preset beliefs held by students, but few such programs exist and teachers typically lack access to these resources. Experiential learning in the form of self-guided kits can allow evolution education programs to maximize their reach while still maintaining a high-quality resource. We created an inquiry-based kit that uses live Trinidadian guppies to teach evolution by natural selection using the VIST (Variation, Inheritance, Selection, Time) framework. Our collaborative team included evolutionary biologists and education specialists, and we were able to combine expertise in evolution research and inquiry-based kit design in the development of this program. By constructing the kits with grant funds slated for broader impacts and maintaining them at our university's Education and Outreach Center, we made these kits freely available to local schools over the long term. Students and teachers have praised how clearly the kits teach evolution by natural selection, and we are excited to share this resource with readers of The American Biology Teacher.