Activity Introduction

Quick summary: This lesson is designed for a flipped classroom, where students learn new content by watching a video in their own time. This strategy provides the opportunity for students to build their knowledge, attitudes and values by themselves, thereby freeing up class time for hands-on work. Students watch a video about taxonomy and phylogenetic trees and respond to a series of questions.

Learning goals:

  • Students understand the purpose of phylogenetic trees and why we use them.
  • Students understand how to create a phylogenetic tree.
  • Students develop skills in communicating complex scientific subjects.

21st century skills:

evolution flipped phylogenetic 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)
  • Communicate scientific ideas and information for a particular purpose, including constructing evidence-based arguments and using appropriate scientific language, conventions and representations (ACSIS208)
  • Extension: The transmission of heritable characteristics from one generation to the next involves DNA and genes (ACSSU184)

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 brainstorm and oversee activity.

Resources required: Phylogenetic tree factsheet, Phylogenetic tree human origins, Tree of Life, Internet access, desktop or online animation program (e.g. wideo or Go Animate). Student Worksheet – one copy per student OR computers/tablets to access the online worksheet.

Digital technology opportunities: Animation creation, digital sharing capabilities.

Homework and extension opportunities: Includes opportunities for extension.

Keywords: Evolution, phylogeny, phylogenetic tree, homologous, analogous.

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


Teacher Worksheet

Teacher Preparation

Overarching learning goal: Students take responsibility for their own learning by watching a video on taxonomy and completing a thinking routine. By participating in this activity students will understand the purpose of taxonomy and the use phylogenetic trees in taxonomy. They will develop skills in communicating complex scientific subjects.

The flipped lesson: This lesson provides the opportunity for students to explore/build their current knowledge, attitudes and values about phylogenetic trees. While working independently, students are to view the following video and complete tables on the student worksheet. Teachers will also gain insight from students’ responses which can be used to plan other activities.

This visual thinking tools can be useful in examining how and why student thinking has changed based on learning specific content information. It also helps to develop their reasoning abilities and to recognise cause and effect relationships.

Teacher conte

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Student Worksheet

What is the tree of life?

Before watching the video below, answer the following questions:

1. What do you think taxonomy might be?

2. Describe what you already know about phylogenetic trees:

Once complete, read the Phylogenetic tree factsheet and watch the video from the start until 2:25 -

Phylogeny and Phylogenetic Trees (

Once you have watched the video, answer the questions below:

1. Did you find this video useful in describing phylogenetic trees? Why or why not?

2. How were the ideas presented in this video connected to what you already knew?

3. What ideas presented in this video pushed or extended your thinking?

4. In your own words, describe why we would create a phylogenetic tree:

5. How might you display connections between organisms in a phylogenetic tree? Describe in words:

6. How might you represent time in a phylogenetic tree? Describe in words:

7. Describe what you see in this very simple phylogenetic tree:

phylogenetic tree simple

8. Using your workb

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