There are hundreds of Web sites that provide information and resources about Charles Darwin and evolution. Much of the material on line is intended for the research community and is highly technical.
The Web sites described below may prove helpful to 16–19 year-old school students and their teachers. Please note that although we check these links regularly, some sites may alter or become unavailable.
Darwin 200 Anniversary
Darwin 200 (Natural History Museum, London)
The Natural History Museum in London co-ordinated the activities of several organisations in the UK that ran special activities and events to celebrate the Darwin 200 anniversary in 2009. The NHM web site has many interesting and useful resources related to Darwin, his life and his work.
Darwin Today (Research Councils UK)
Each year the seven Research Councils in the UK invest around £2.8 billion in research covering medical and biological sciences, astronomy, physics, chemistry, engineering, social sciences, economics, environmental sciences and the arts and humanities. Darwin Today was produced in 2009 as part of a year of celebration of Charles Darwin and his work to coincide with the 200th anniversary of his birth. The contents of this site have now been transferred to schools resources on the BBSRC website.
Darwin 2009 festival (Cambridge University)
Darwin studied at Cambridge University and started to develop his skills as a naturalist there. The Darwin 2009 Festival was a series of events that took place in Cambridge between the 5th and the 10th of July 2009. Audio and video downloads of several talks from the festival are available from this web site.
Endless forms (Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge)
16 June–14 October 2009
This groundbreaking exhibition explored Darwin’s interest in the visual arts and the influence of his revolutionary ideas on the work of Victorian artists. The exhibition web site includes educational resources and a ‘virtual exhibition’ with audio commentary.
The BBC ran two series of television and radio programmes in 2009, one in the Spring centred on the 200th anniversary of Darwin’s birth and a second, in the autumn, celebrating the 150th anniversary of the publication of On the Origin of Species.
Big Picture on Evolution (Wellcome Trust)
The Big Picture is a free magazine-style publication from the Wellcome Trust for post-16 students and their teachers. The Big Picture on Evolution is available to download (as a PDF document) or to read on screen and is supported by additional resources for teachers.
Survival Rivals (Wellcome Trust)
Survival Rivals was a collection of three practical, evolution-related science investigations for secondary schools. These were available as kits, free-of-charge to UK state schools. The kits and spare parts are now available to purchase. Details are given at this Web site, where the practical protocols and supporting resources (such as on-line games) may also be found.
Understanding evolution (University of California, Berkeley)
Understanding Evolution is one of the best Web sites providing authoritative, up-to-date information about evolutionary mechanisms, theory, evidence and modern research. The site includes numerous resources for teaching about evolution (note that this site is aimed at a US audience).
Evolution MegaLab (Open University)
Contribute to some genuine evolutionary research by observing banded snails and submitting your findings to this Europe-wide scientific project.
Darwin Now (British Council)
The British Council had a travelling exhibition, Darwin Now, that toured more than 25 countries worldwide during 2009. The exhibition booklet and associated educational resources are available from this site.
ARKive Charles Darwin education resources (supported by the British Council)
A selection of educational resources for 11–16 year-olds, available to download as PDF files and PowerPoint presentations. The materials cover a range of topics, including variation, classification, natural selection and identification keys.
The Open University teamed up with the BBC to produce several television programmes and educational courses associated with the Darwin anniversaries. This site hosts an Interactive Tree of Life, the illustrations from which are available to use under a Creative Commons licence.
Magazines & newspapers
The New Scientist magazine had a special section on its Web site to celebrate the Darwin anniversaries. This includes news, articles about current evolutionary research, instructions for some of Darwin’s experiments that can be tried at home, reviews of Darwin-related popular books and much more.
The prestigious scientific journal Nature has a Darwin 200 mini site including research, opinion, news, books, the arts and other feature articles. Don’t miss the free-to-download 15 Evoutionary gems, giving examples published by Nature over the past decade, illustrating the breadth, depth and power of evolutionary thinking.
To mark the two Darwin anniversaries The Guardian newspaper has evolution-related news and a guide to Darwin’s Origin of Species, with extracts from key chapters and essays from leading scientists and thinkers, including Richard Dawkins and former Bishop of Oxford Richard Harries.
The New York Times has excerpts from Darwin’s writing that have been selected by prominent scientists who discuss why the passages they have chosen are important.
Seed Magazine celebrated the life and work of Charles Darwin by exploring the culture of ideas that has arisen as a result of the scientist’s work.
This Web site provides a comprehensive collection of resources and links about the life and work of Charles Darwin. Its detailed maps of the voyage of the Beagle are excellent.
Charles Darwin exchanged letters with nearly 2,000 people during his lifetime, often sending ten letters a day. The letters, which were exchanged with friends and relatives, naturalists, public figures and ordinary men and women, give an insight into Darwin’s character and wide-ranging interests. To date about a quarter of over 14,500 of Darwin’s letters have been collected and made available on line.
This Web site contains Darwin’s complete publications, 20,000 private papers, the largest Darwin bibliography and manuscript catalogue and hundreds of supplementary works: specimens, biographies, obituaries, reviews, reference works and much more.
Darwin at Downe (Down House Proposed World Heritage Site)
Charles Darwin lived at Down House from 1842 until his death 40 years later. The house and the surrounding area at Downe, in Bromley, has been proposed as a World Heritage Site. The house is now owned and maintained by English Heritage and includes a museum and education centre. This site has numerous resources including panoramic views, video clips and educational materials.
Charles Darwin & Evolution (Christ’s College, Cambridge)
Darwin’s old college at Cambridge, Christ’s, has an excellent short account of Darwin’s life and work, including links to educational resources.
The NCBI hosts a major collection of databases of genetic information that is used by research scientists world-wide. The Web site includes some excellent educational materials, including a primer on systematics and molecular phylogenetics.
The Tree of Life Web Project is a collaborative effort of biologists from around the world. On more than 9,000 Web pages, the project provides information about the diversity of organisms on Earth, their evolutionary history (phylogeny), and characteristics.
The Wellcome Trust Tree of Life is a six-minute animated evolutionary history presented by Sir David Attenborough. The video can be downloaded for classroom use, as can the supporting interactive tree, to be viewed using a Web browser (requires Adobe Flash 10). An audio-free version of the video is also available for dubbing with your own soundtrack.
Interactive Tree of Life (European Molecular Biology Laboratory)
The Interactive Tree of Life is an advanced online tool for the display and manipulation of phylogenetic trees. It provides most of the features available in other tree viewers, and offers a novel circular tree layout, which makes it easy to visualize trees. Trees can be exported to several graphical formats, both bitmap- and vector-based. Even if you don’t want to generate your own trees, you can explore the pre-computed interactive diagrams on this site.
MEGA is a research tool for conducting automatic and manual sequence alignment of sequence data, inferring phylogenetic trees, mining online databases, estimating rates of molecular evolution and testing evolutionary hypotheses. It is available free-of-charge for Windows, Macintosh and Linux operating systems.
Geneious is award-winning software developed for research use. It combines all the major DNA and protein sequence analysis tools in a single easy-to-use package. The software runs on all major operating systems (Macintosh, Windows, Linux and Solaris). The basic version of Geneious, which provides more than most schools will require, is free-of-charge.