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Biological Anthropology Lesson Plan

Instructor: John Hamilton

John has tutored algebra and SAT Prep and has a B.A. degree with a major in psychology and a minor in mathematics from Christopher Newport University.

Educate your students on the subject of biological anthropology with this lesson plan. The students will peruse a text lesson, take a related follow-up quiz, and participate in two hands-on activities to reinforce new concepts.

Learning Objectives

After studying this lesson your students will be able to:

  • Define biological anthropology.
  • Name five subfields of biological anthropology.
  • State what the five subfields attempt to discover.

Length

1-1.5 Hours

Materials

Key Vocabulary

  • Evolutionary medicine
  • Forensic anthropology
  • Human behavioral ecology
  • Paleoanthropology
  • Primatology
  • Social behaviors

Curriculum Standards

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.9-10.1

Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of science and technical texts, attending to the precise details of explanations or descriptions.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.9-10.2

Determine the central ideas or conclusions of a text; trace the text's explanation or depiction of a complex process, phenomenon, or concept; provide an accurate summary of the text.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.9-10.4

Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context relevant to grades 9-10 texts and topics.

Instructions

  • Inform your students they are going to be studying the field of biological anthropology.
  • Ask your students if anyone is familiar with this field?
  • Review the key vocabulary terms.
  • Pass out copies of the text lesson What is Biological Anthropology? - Definition & Subfields or pull up the video lesson for the class to watch.
  • Read or watch the introduction and the first section 'What is Biological Anthropology?'
    • What is another name for biological anthropology?
    • How is it utilized to study people?
  • Next read or watch the section 'The Different Anthropology Fields'
    • Can you name five subfields of biological anthropology?'
    • What does paleoanthropology try to do?
    • What does studying fossils help scientists determine?
    • What does studying the anatomy and social behaviors of primates help scientists determine?
    • What do primatologists attempt to learn?
    • How do forensic anthropologists help to solve crimes?
  • Now read or watch the sections 'Behavioral Ecology' and 'Evolutionary Medicine.'
    • What do behavioral ecologists study?
    • Why might a scientist study evolutionary medicine?
  • Lastly, read or watch the section 'Lesson Summary,' review the lesson, and answer any questions your students may ask of you.
  • Have the students take the lesson quiz to demonstrate their understanding of the material.

Activity One

  • Let your students know they are going to be participating in a fun 'Matching' type of game.
  • Divide your students up into pairs.
  • Hand out two preprinted worksheets, one with the following 15 terms involving biological anthropology, and one with the 15 related definitions, in mixed order:

1) Darwinian medicine - another name for evolutionary medicine

2) Primatology - studies primates, but not humans

3) Paleoanthropology - from Greek words meaning 'study of ancient humans'

4) Carl Linnaeus - first coined the term Homo sapiens

5) Forensic anthropologist - Dr. 'Bones' Brennan is one

6) Human behavioral ecology - optimal foraging theory is a subfield

7) Agoraphobia - the fear of open spaces

8) Charles Darwin - wrote Descent of Man

9) Homo sapiens - from the Latin for 'wise man'

10) HMS Beagle - Darwin's ship

11) John Maynard Smith - wrote Animal Signals

12) Diseases of affluence - ailments attributed to civilization

13) Lucy - famous skeleton discovered in Ethiopia in 1974

14) Biological anthropology - also known as physical anthropology

15) Sherwood Washburn - advocated studying primates out in nature

  • Grade the worksheets as the students turn them in to you, and then recap all the correct answers with the entire class.
    • Lastly, does anyone have any final questions or comments?

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