Rubric / Checklist for “Darwin’s Great Idea”

  • Why did Charles Darwin NOT become a doctor?  (1) squeamish stomach condition
    • How long was he in medical school? (1) 2 years spent in medical school
    • What did Darwin enjoy doing? (1) collecting insects, hunting, riding horses, being outdoors
    • What did his father want him to do, if he wasn’t going to be a physician? (1) a clergy / minister
    • What type of education did Darwin begin in respect to his father’s wishes? (1) was accepted to divinity school at Cambridge


  • What job offer did Darwin get that changed the course of his life? (1) to be the HMS Beagle's ship naturalist
    • Did his father agree to let him go on the big voyage?  (1) at first no! but Darwin methodically broke down all his fathers arguments and got his father's blessing
    • What was the HMS Beagle (1) a ship in the British Royal Navy
  • What kind of equipment did Darwin take on the Beagle.  (1) specimen jars, nets, notebooks to take notes in
    • Any books?  (1) Lyell's Principles of Geology and the Holy Bible
    • What was their importance to him? (2) Darwin considered the Bible his guide considering all matters of morality and Lyell's book said the Earth was very old and changed over time. Important ideas to begin thinking about for constructing his theories.
  •  What oceanic landforms interested Darwin?  (1) Atoll islands were of special interest
    • What was his “first great theory?” (1) How atoll islands started as volcanoes, coral reefs formed around the shallows, the island sunk over time, but the coral reefs continued to build and become atolls
    • Was his 1st theory correct (1) amazingly he was absolutely correct about this
  • What kind of evidences began to interest Darwin once he got off the ship to explore jungles?  (1) he saw incredible varieties of insects, fossils of animals that no longer existed, wingless birds
    • What did he see on the Galapagos that really stimulated his mind to think about where life came from (1) finches, turtles, and iguanas that existed nowhere else on Earth except these "new" volcanic islands
  • After 5 years on the ship, he returned to England and began “mental rioting.”
    • What does “mental rioting” mean?  Why did he do this in “secret notebooks.” (2) Darwin tried to figure out the meaning of all that he had seen, but at the same time feared for his family and reputation if he were to make statements about where species came from.
    • What did he do with pigeons that taught him about genetic variation in populations? (1) Pigeon breeders showed Darwin that really strange varieties had come from basic rock pigeons of the wild. The were selected for by the breeders, but the population produced the variations.
    • What did he think regarding the finches on the Galapagos (1) He thought that the varieties of finches that existed on the Galapagos were perhaps also descended from a common ancestor just like the pigeons.
  • What idea did he use from Malthus?  What did he decide about natural selection? (2) Darwin read that Malthus believed that there were variations in populations that were good for them and some not so good. He decided that it was NATURAL SELECTION by the environment on those variations that fueled evolution.
    • His new idea of natural selection powering evolution was awesome.  Why did he not immediately publish? (2) Darwin believed his privileges as a respected scientist would be stripped, he might be jailed, or even worse, his good family name would be forever destroyed because his theory would go against the teachings of the state church of England, the Anglican Church. He also did not want to mess up his chances of spending eternity with his wife in heaven. He simply could not stomach the stress of publishing
    • What two events pushed him to publish his theory of how evolution happens? (2) Darwin's daughter Annie died. The pain was so much that he figured the pain of conflict could be no worse. Also, Alfred Wallace wrote him and was about to
    • Who did Darwin co-present with to the Linean Society (1) Darwin co presented with Alfred Wallace to the Linean Society about their theory of Natural Selection and Descent with Modifications.
  • What is the “Origin of the Species?”  (1) Darwin's book explaining his theories of how evolution has occurred
    • What are the two main ideas in his book? (1) idea 1 was descent with modification and idea 2 was natural selection
    • What is the only figure in the Origin of the species? (1) a figure showing a branched tree of life with all living things connected to a common ancestor.
    • What kinds of evidences do we see today that indicates that species have been changed over time? (1) animals in the fossil record do not exist anymore.
    • What are the 4 main ideas shown in the fossil record? (4) 1) animal and plant forms have change over time 2) timespan of evolution is immense 3) extinction is the fate of most species 99.9% are extinct 4) environments in every locale have changed often drastically over time
    • How are Earth history and Life History intertwined? (1) as the Earth and the environment change, the organisms have got to change with it or go extinct
    • What are the 3 things that fuel evolution? (3) Variation (is the material), Selection (does the work), and Time allows both to happen to make evolution work.
    • Summarize the example given to illustrate pocket mice coloration evolution on desert lava flows (2) It was shown how a dark mouse gene mutation shows up in a population of sandy colored mice trying to live on a black lava flow and spreads to become 95% of the mice because of selective pressure by owls.
  • What did you learn about Darwin and his life that is different than what you had previously thought? (3) please have at least three things you learned about the movie here.
Mechanics, spelling, and grammar (5- possible if virtually no mistakes, 3- some mistakes, 1- many mistakes)
Organization (5- reads very smooth , 3- somewhat smooth, 1- is really not smooth at all )