Talking to kids about evolution is hard: State it clearly

I’ve found it a bit difficult to explain the concept of evolution to a child below the age of 10. You run into a problem defining all those “things” involved – like DNA and reproduction and population and deep time. Those are tough for kids to grasp (especially “populations”, I’ve noticed). Check out this video with adorable graphics and rather easy to understand explanations.

It still contains some big words but try it out on your kids and see how they respond to it. I’m going to try an experiment myself.

The video is from the site Stated Clearly which includes other videos like it on related topics. Check it out.


6 thoughts on “Talking to kids about evolution is hard: State it clearly

  1. wonderful. The school my children attended had a strong science education program. As a preschool teacher I was responsible for Big Bang introduction (there are fabulous books that cover this on a preschool level). Children in 4-5-6 grade (hey they were all in one class and had 3 teachers and one assistant, it’s a small school), would each make heads of various stages of “man” (sorry not sure of the correct term, I did preschool!). Even in preschool there were wonderful books about adaptation, and one school play (we had performance times each month and when it was our turn we once acted out our original play “Out of the ooze!” (very basic, we only had 15 minutes). The point often isn’t “understanding” so much as familiarity. It’s important as the neighbor’s kid attending a fundie school will be familiar with his school’s creationism story. We need to teach science young.

  2. I can see how those would not just be very handy for a young person to see, but for any adults that might have a hard time getting a grip on the reality of evolution. As I recall, I owned a book published by Time-Life about evolution when I was a child. The diagrams showing Mendel’s experiments with pea seeds seemed especially helpful in understanding the concept. But, of course, I was raised in an environment that nurtured a love of science and knowledge, unlike so many homes these days. I’d think that if you were raised in an environment where knowledge weren’t precious, and were replaced with some kind of dogmatic belief system, none of those concepts would sink in very well.

  3. It’s really sad to see that science and understanding are not more a part of young children’s education. I myself grew up non-religious, and am no better or worse than if I had been “brainwashed” with religious ideologies. In todays society, we are putting “in god we trust” on everything from car tags, courtrooms, coins, paper money, and the pledge of allegiance is now “under god”. Most of these “god” sayings came about not earlier than 50 years ago and to the present. Religion teaches us nothing but fairy tales. I am just as good a person as anyone else, I believe in life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, love, honesty, hard work, integrity, and loyalty. You can have all that without religion, all of us have done it, it’s just that religion is a way to test who has the mightiest imaginary friend. Ridiculus.

  4. The evolution of the peppered moth is a simple example of how a changing environment can give an evolutionary advantage to a darker moth, so that lighter moths die out. In this case the darker moths were better camoflaged in the sooty backgrounds of the industrial revolution, and the lighter ones were spotted and eaten by birds before they could reproduce. As cleaner air became the norm again, and lighter moths could once again blend into a lichen-covered wall, the lighter ones began to reappear. I explained this to my daughter when she was about six, and when they did evolution at high school she said “I remembered you told me all about this!” I’ve now sent for a book called “Our Family Tree” by Lisa Westberg Peters, to illustrate it for my six year old granddaughter. For an older child “Evolution Revolution”, by Robert Winston, looks fun.

  5. ps: it’s like talking about sex to kids. Start with broad simple concepts and enlarge on them as they get older. When they are tiny you just say “the baby grows in the mummy’s tummy” and then later you add to it and say “the baby is made of a bit of mummy and a bit of daddy so it looks like both/either of them” and later you point out what those two frogs are doing, and so on. Small kids accept pretty well anything. Same with any scientific concept. You don’t have to go into Mendel and DNA right at the start.

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