Activity Introduction

eagle-heroQuick summary: Students investigate the difference between acclimation and adaptation. They begin by brainstorming definitions as a class, then work in pairs to classify a range of statements as being either examples of acclimation or adaptation. Still working in pairs they will then find their own examples of acclimation and adaptation and create an infographic to describe the difference visually. Based on feedback provided by their peers, students will make suggestions about how to complete their infographics. Finally students will create their own definitions for the terms acclimation and adaptation.

Learning goals:

  • Students understand what ‘adaptation’ means when applied to biology and evolution.
  • Students understand what ‘acclimation’ means when applied to biology and evolution.
  • Students are able to differentiate between ‘adaptation’ and ‘acclimation’.

evolution acclimation skills

Australian Curriculum Mapping

Content description:

Year 10 Science

  • The theory of evolution by natural selection explains the diversity of living things and is supported by a range of scientific evidence (ACSSU185)

Syllabus OutcomesSC5-9WS, SC5-14LW.

General capabilities: Critical and creative thinking.

Cross-curriculum priority: Sustainability OI.2.

Relevant parts of Year 10 Science achievement standards: Students explain the processes that underpin heredity and evolution.

Topic: Evolution.

Time required: 60 mins.

Level of teacher scaffolding: Medium – facilitate discussion and oversee activity.

Resources required: Natural selection factsheet, Speciation factsheet, Student Worksheet – one copy per student OR computers/tablets to access the online worksheet.

Digital technology opportunities: Digital sharing capabilities, infographic creation, e.g. Piktochart (DIY infographic creation).

Homework and extension opportunities: Includes opportunities for extension or homework.

Keywords: Adaptation, acclimation, evolution.

Cool Australia’s curriculum team continually reviews and refines our resources to be in line with changes to the Australian Curriculum.


Teacher Worksheet

butterfly-heroTeacher preparation

Overarching learning goal: By participating in this lesson students will understand what 'adaptation' and ’acclimation' mean when applied to biology, and are able to differentiate between 'adaptation' and 'acclimation'. Students are able to demonstrate their understanding of these terms through the use of real life examples.

Teacher content information:

Natural Selection - Crash Course Biology #14 - (

Teaching sequence

15 minutes - Creating definitions.
20 minutes - Classifying scenarios and sharing answers.
20 minutes - Infographic creation.
5 minutes - Reflection.

Work through this resource material in the following sequence:

Part A: Definitions

Step 1. Begin by asking students to work in pairs to find 3 definitions online for the terms 'acclimation' and 'adaptation'.

Invite students to share their definitions with the class and the sources of these definitions. Spend some time comparing these definitions:

  • What are key words
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Student Worksheet

Thought starter: What are the relationships between acclimation, adaptation and evolution?

Part A: Definitions

Working in pairs, find three definitions for both of the following terms, recording the source of each definition:










Part B: Acclimation or adaptation?

Working in pairs, write ACCLIMATION or ADAPTATION next to each of the statements below.



1. Cows learn to avoid an electric fence because they learned they would get a shock.

2. Cheetahs are the fastest land mammals so they can catch their prey.

3. A lizard's legs grew longer after both legs were broken when it fell from a very high rock.

4. Cats grow a thicker coat in winter to keep warm.

5. Octopuses change their skin colour to match their surroundings.

6. Whale

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