A Virtual Voyage of the Beagle

Author: Jenny McGuire

Overview: This lesson allows students to virtually follow along the route that Darwin took on the HMS Beagle and make similar observations. This guided activity will allow them to reach similar conclusions as those made by Darwin himself.

Lesson Concepts:

  • Selective breeding can recombine existing variation.
  • Some animals have lived in the past that do not live today.
  • Different animals are adapted to eat different foods.
  • Animals that eat similar foods may look alike even though they are not closely related to one another.

Grade Span: 8–12


Advanced Preparation:

Gather materials and set up stations. Make duplicates of stations as necessary:

Station 1: England
Map of Darwin's voyage with England highlighted
Picture of Darwin's house in England
Picture of dogs
Picture of pigeons
Station 2: South America
Map of Darwin's voyage with South America highlighted
Picture of South America, circa 1832
Picture of various rodents
Picture of sloths
Station 3: Galapagos Islands
Map of Darwin's voyage with the Galapagos Islands highlighted
Picture of the Galapagos Islands
Picture of Galapagos Finches
Station 4: Australia
Map of Darwin's voyage with Australia highlighted
Picture with two views of Australia, circa 1830 and 1841
Picture of wolf skulls
Picture of marsupial wolf and timber wolf (print on reverse side of skulls image)

Lead-up lesson: Introduction to Darwin, using overheads

Time: two hours

Grouping: Groups of 2-4 students are best. Make multiple replicates of stations if necessary.

Teacher Background: Explore this American Museum of Natural History site for information on Darwin and his voyage.

Vocabulary: evolution, adaptation, species, offspring, extinction, marsupial, monotreme, convergence (optional)


  1. Using the overheads, review who Darwin is and where he took his famous voyage (15 min).
  2. Pass out a worksheet set to each student.
  3. Divide students into groups and send each group to a station (5 min).
  4. Allow students ~20 minutes per station (80 min).
  5. Allot time for a follow-up discussion (20 min).