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Lesson Plans Library 8-12 > Forensics
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The Real Eve
Grade level: 8-12 Subject: Forensics Duration: One or two class periods

lesson plan support

Students will
  • review human evolution and migration from Africa; and
  • make presentations showing different paths of human migration.
  • Computer with Internet access
  1. Review information about the human evolution and migration featured in the video. "Discovery Channel: Eve Explained" provides an online summary with background information; visit the Web site . Below are questions to help lead the discussion.

    • Who is the Real Eve?(a woman from whom all modern humans may be descended)
    • Where and when did she live?(Africa about 150,000 years ago)
    • What is the scientific basis that a Real Eve existed?(genetic tracking through mitochondrial DNA; new knowledge of climate and geographical changes)
    • What is mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA)?(the unique DNA found in the mitochondria of living cells)
    • How is mitochondrial DNA passed through generations?(Humans inherit it from their mothers.)
    • How many years ago did the first hominids appear?(3.5 million)
    • When did this group of hominids migrate out of Africa? (80,000 years ago)What was their migration route?(across the Red Sea into what is now Yemen)
    • What were the primary causes of the migration of hominid groups?(climate and geography, such as polar caps, deserts, and volcanic eruptions)
    • When did modern-day humans first migrate into what is now Europe?(50,000 years ago)
    • What hominids had been living in this region for hundreds of thousands of years?(Neanderthals)
    • What caused humans to evolve into different races with unique characteristics?(adaptations to different climates)

  2. Divide the class into seven groups. Assign each group a different time period of human migration (below). Tell students they will make a brief class presentation highlighting information about the time period.

    • 150,000 years ago
    • 80,000 years ago
    • 74,000 years ago
    • 70,000 years ago
    • 50,000 years ago
    • 20,000 years ago
    • 16,000 years ago

  3. Instruct each group to visit the interactive "Human Migration" map online ( .) Each presentation should answer the following questions:

    • Where did humans migrate to and from during this time period?
    • What evidence proves that humans lived in that region during this time period?
    • What do we know about the way these people lived? What is the evidence?
    • How did climate changes influence these people?

  4. Have the groups present their findings, using a world map to show the migration paths during each period of time.

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Use the following three-point rubric to evaluate students' work during this lesson.
  • Three points:Students were highly engaged in class discussions; demonstrated a clear understanding of the concepts of human migration, mitochondrial DNA, and the Real Eve; gave a clear and thorough class presentation that answered all the assigned questions.
  • Two points:Students participated in class discussions; demonstrated an adequate understanding the concepts of human migration, mitochondrial DNA, and the Real Eve; gave a complete class presentation that answered most of the assigned questions.
  • One point:Students participated minimally in class discussions; demonstrated an incomplete understanding the concepts of human migration, mitochondrial DNA, and the Real Eve; gave an incomplete class presentation that answered few or none of the assigned questions.

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Definition:The molecule that carries genetic information in all living things; the chemical basis of heredity
Context:DNA is located in the nucleus of living cells.

Definition:The family of erect bipedal primate mammals that includes modern humans (the species Homo sapiens) and Neanderthals and other related extinct species
Context:Homo sapiens is the only surviving hominid species.

Definition:To move from one region or climate to another
Context:Many scientists believe that our human ancestors migrated from Africa across the Red Sea.

Definition:Tiny structures in all human cells that have their own DNA called mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA)
Context:By studying mitochondria and mtDNA, some scientists believe that all humans may be descended from a single woman who lived in East Africa about 150,000 years ago.

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This lesson plan addresses the following standards from the National Science Education Standards:
  • Life Science: Populations and ecosystems; Diversity and adaptations of organisms; Molecular basis of heredity; Biological evolution

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Joy Brewster, curriculum writer, editor, and consultant

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