EvoS Journal: The Journal of the Evolutionary Studies Consortium
Volume 8, Issue 1, 2018-2019
Crayons, Darwin, and the Evolution of Life: A Drawing-Based Activity to Demonstrate Natural Selection
Geher, G., Rhodes, T., Di Santo, J. M., Goldstein, A., & Newhook, K.
In June of 2017, at a workshop for the NorthEastern Evolutionary Psychology Society, animator and science advocate, Tyler Rhodes, implemented a seemingly simple activity related to natural selection. He asked an audience comprised of about 30 students and scholars to draw simple organisms using nothing more than three crayons and sheets of paper. Through an iterative process, some organisms “survived” while others “died a Darwinian death.” As part of this activity, basic evolutionary concepts emerged in the minds of participants. What is an adaptation? How does the environment shape adaptations? How do the features of an ancestor relate to the features of a descendant? And more! This activity proved to be exactly the kind of high-impact pedagogical project that has the capacity to teach basic evolutionary principles to just about anyone. Here, we describe the basics of the activity itself, we summarize some of the core evolution-based concepts that are taught along the way, and we provide personal perspectives of three teaching assistants who helped deliver this activity in a large undergraduate class related to evolution. Ultimately, this article provides a guidebook for how any teacher can implement this low-cost and high-impact activity related to the teaching of evolution.
How to cite this article:
Geher, G., Rhodes, T., Di Santo, J. M., Goldstein, A., & Newhook, K. (2019). Crayons, Darwin, and the evolution of life: A drawing-based activity to demonstrate natural selection. The Journal of the Evolutionary Studies Consortium, 8(1), 64-79.