Islands of Change
Ecology and Evolution
Grades 5-8
$24.95 (NSTA members take 10% off)
Available: through NSTA (800-722-NSTA or

The National Science Teachers Association has published Ecology and Evolution: Islands of Change for middle and junior high school science classes. Focusing on island biogeography, ecology, and evolution, the 19 standards-based activities use the Galápagos Islands as a running theme, but are designed to help students make connections to their local environments.

Ecology and Evolution: Islands of Change builds on NSTA's experience and success with materials that relate to the Galápagos. In 1991, NSTA developed the curriculum used in association with the JASON Project's expedition to the Galápagos that same year. In 1999, NSTA again was asked to develop activities in association with the Smithsonian Institution and Imax, Ltd. 3-D film, Galapagos. In addition to creating this Web site, an educational poster, and a 32-page teacher's guide for the film, NSTA developed new material and adapted older activities to create Ecology and Evolution: Islands of Change.

In addition to linking to the National Science Education Standards, each activity has assessment suggestions, rubrics, and Internet extensions through the NSTA SciLinks program. Using hands-on activities, games, and research suggestions, students will learn how the factors that shape evolutionary processes—adaptation and natural selection—are influenced by ecological pressures. The complex relationship between ecology and evolution are demonstrated and reiterated throughout the book.

The activities demonstrate how islands are formed and the role currents play in weather patterns, which in turn affect the climate and the life forms that can survive. Students will make food webs under a variety of circumstances, both for a Galápagos marine environment as well as their own local community, then modify those food webs based on factors such as changes in climate (such as an El Niño) or the introduction of competitive alien species. Plant and animal biodiversity and dependent relationships within an ecosystem are covered in detail.

Throughout this Web site are activities that appear in Ecology and Evolution: Islands of Change, which have been modified to make use of the online medium. Consider these activities a sampler of what is available in the full-length book.

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