Evolution shapes life at every scale, and it occurs whenever there are three simple building blocks: variation, heritability and differential reproduction. This video looks at the evolution of viruses and bacteria as models (on a scale that is small and fast) to help understand how evolution works.

How to Use this Video

This video explores the way evolution happens via natural selection in the context of the microbial world. Viruses and bacteria are discussed. We will see how evolution can be simulated in a laboratory setting.

Find the video below, as well as some of the important science senses it features relating to data visualization, developing hypotheses and designing experiments, and communicating science.

Have thoughts about the video? What resources or activities have you used to teach this topic in your class? We’d love to know – share your voice by sending us a message below 🙂


Science Senses Featured in this Video

Number sense

Having a sense of scale

Data sense

Visualizing data

Doing statistical analysis

Knowledge sense

Developing hypotheses and designing experiments

Using models

Communicating science

Applying scientific knowledge

Activities & Lesson Plans

Statistical and Graphical Interpretation – datasets for bacterial survival under different treatment conditions can be generated to allow students the opportunity to use basic statistics and create figures. Tables and figures from the scientists featured in this video can also be used to discuss how results can be summarized and presented. (DS – doing statistical analysis, visualizing data; KS – communicating science.)

Evolution and Public Health Discussion – students can discuss why knowing how evolution works is important from a public health perspective. (KS – applying scientific knowledge, communicating science.)

Evolution in the Classroom Discussion – Students can analyze Judge Jones’ Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District decision that succeeded in keeping Intelligent Design out of the science classroom. The 2005 ruling lays out some things that make science distinct. (KS – nature of science, communicating science.)


Darwin C. 1859. On the Origin of Species by means of natural selection, or, the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. London: J. Murray. (The first four chapters are particularly relevant).

Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District. 400 F. Supp. 2d 707 (M.D. Pa. 2005). Link.

Malik AH, JM Ziermann, and R Diogo. An untold story in biology: the historical continuity of evolutionary ideas of Muslim scholars from the 8th century to Darwin’s time. Journal of Biological Education. 52(1):3-17. Link.

Palumbi SR. 2001. Humans as the world’s greatest evolutionary force. Science. 293(5536): 1786-1790. Link.

Pigliucci M. 2010. Chapter 7: Science in the Courtroom. From Nonsense on Stilts: How to Tell Science from Bunk. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

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