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Animals, Adaptation, and the Galápagos Islands: A Science Explorations Activity

This three-level project, by Scholastic and the American Museum of Natural History, teaches students to think like Charles Darwin.


3–5, 6–8, 9–12

Activity Type

  • Computer Lab Activities

Scholastic and the American Museum of Natural History teamed up to offer students the Animals, Adaptation, and the Galapagos Islands project (grades 3–10). Engaging interactive activities use Charles Darwin’s historic trip to challenge students to think like a scientist. The project is divided into three grade-appropriate levels.

Level 1 (grades 3 and up)

  • Collect the Clues: Students assume the role of a naturalist, and must identify the mystery animal living on an island with help from six clues.
  • Investigate: Students observe how animals adapt to their environment by using photos and articles to answer questions on iguanas, penguins, and more.
  • Students can record all of their findings in a Field Journal.

Level 2 (grades 5 and up)

  • Make the Match: Students study five species of tortoises, then must “return” each of them to its proper home island.
  • Investigate: Students examine several kinds of birds from the Galapagos through photos and articles to answer questions about them.

Level 3 (grades 7 and up)

  • Solve the Mystery: In this interactive activity, students click on objects – including a tortoise shell – to examine them. They must read several clues, then make observations and come to conclusions to answer three questions about a giant tortoise.
  • Investigate: How have humans have affected the Galapagos? Students read articles and view images to study how tourism and non-native animals have changed the Galapagos.
  • Students can track all of their findings in a Field Journal.


  • Once students have finished one or all three of the levels above, Putting It Together offers tips and ideas on how they can create a research presentation, whether it’s a written report, an oral presentation, or a multimedia experience.
  • The Darwin Library shares dozens of articles – some including photos and video – on everything from animals to evolution, marine life, species classification, and more.
  • Students can share their thoughts, questions, and ideas about science with other kids on Scholastic’s Message Boards.
  • Backyard Science offers six different science-related activities that students can conduct at home.
  • Dr. Niles Eldredge, a paleontologist at the American Museum of Natural History, offers tips on how to think like a scientist.

Learning Objectives

While participating in the Animals, Adaptation, and the Galapagos Islands project, students will:

  • Learn grade-appropriate facts about the topic
  • Build scientific thinking skills as they follow a guided path of inquiry and analysis
  • Learn how professional scientists and experts conduct investigations and present findings
  • Practice reading strategies and skills needed to decode and comprehend nonfiction and informational texts
  • Develop skills for writing about research-based topics
  • Strengthen research and critical reasoning skills as they gather, assess, and use data
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Susan Cheyney

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