Evolution in Action

Update, revise and teach a real-world science, student-to-student evolution curriculum.


  • Essential Question: How can I implement my knowledge of evolution into da- to-day lab procedures for high school freshmen in Biology Honors?
  • Area(s) of Study: Science/Biology
  • Amount of credit earned: six credits over two years
  • Community Partners: two high school biology teachers, director and staff of a center for evolutionary biology at a university, rep from scientific supply company.


Content-Specific Competencies

  • Evolution: demonstrate an understanding of evolution through natural selection.
  • Biotechnology: demonstrate an understanding of current innovations in medical biotechnology.

Science Department Competencies

  • Scientific literacy: apply knowledge of scientific concepts and processes to the evaluation and presentation of issues and to the decision-making.
  • Facility with knowledge: critique and apply facts, information, and skills as defined by the discipline and grade level expectations.
  • Scholarship: demonstrate responsible behavior, preparedness, and perseverance in the pursuit of scientific knowledge and understanding.

Schoolwide Learning Expectations

  • Communication: use various media to interpret, question, and express knowledge, information, ideas, feelings, and reasoning to create mutual understanding.
  • Creativity: use original and flexible thinking to communicate ideas or construct a unique product or solution.
  • Collaboration: work in diverse groups to achieve a common goal.
  • Self-Direction: initiate and manage personal learning and demonstrate a growth mindset.

ELO Department Competencies

  • Research: analyze and demonstrate an understanding of a learning experience through reflection.
  • Reflection: apply ongoing research to the evaluation and presentation of issues that arise, and the decisions made as the ELO progresses.
  • Product: demonstrate new knowledge and develop a tangible product that relates to the student’s interests, skills, and abilities.
  • Presentation: communicate the entire ELO experience in a manner that is appropriate to the experience and the audience.

See the detailed ELO description for the full text of these competencies.

Student Activities

  • Research funding opportunities to buy an autoclave (bacteria sterilizer). Conduct preliminary research about rebooting the Evolution in Action program.
  • Communicate with community partners about material preparation and student protocols.
  • Communicate with Fisher Scientific, ordering necessary supplies.
  • Adjust and create  student lab protocol. Create materials.
  • Conduct behind-the-scenes trial period of new protocols.
  • Make necessary adjustments to student protocols after trials.
  • Create necessary materials for student implementation.
  • Create lesson plans for entire Evolution in Action unit.
  • Implement the revised unit:
    • Teaching of evolution principles
    • Day-to-day transfer of bacteria
    • Examining plated bacteria and subsequent mutants


The final product of the ELO was a binder containing all of the information necessary to run the protocols at another school. This included communications with representatives of supply companies, and mentors from UNH and the University of Pittsburgh, as well as student protocols and lesson plans.

The student’s final presentation included the entire ELO experience from planning to assessment as well as a discussion of the successes and challenges faced and how this ELO experience helped the student move forward in high school and college. Another part of the student’s presentation was conducted at New England Secondary School Consortium Conference on High School Redesign.   

More information

The design of this ELO ensures the student not only develops the protocols/curriculum but also helps to teach it. Through the teaching, future students interested in the ELO were recruited to take on the role of teacher/student mentor the following year. There is a video created about the experience by another student.

This ELO was submitted by Donna Couture, ELO Coordinator at Winnacunnet High School. Email for more information