Convergent & Divergent Evolution Lesson Plan

Instructor: Adrianne Baron

Adrianne has a master's degree in cancer biology and has taught high school and college biology.

The environment can cause changes in a species. Your students will learn about convergent and divergent evolution as they watch a video and create examples of each type of evolution.

Learning Objectives

At the completion of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • define convergent and divergent evolution
  • identify examples of convergent and divergent evolution
  • explain why convergent and divergent evolution occur


  • 1.5 - 2 hours

Curriculum Standards

  • HS-LS4-1. Communicate scientific information that common ancestry and biological evolution are supported by multiple lines of empirical evidence.
  • HS-LS4-2. Construct an explanation based on evidence that the process of evolution primarily results from four factors: (1) the potential for a species to increase in number, (2) the heritable genetic variation of individuals in a species due to mutation and sexual reproduction, (3) competition for limited resources, and (4) the proliferation of those organisms that are better able to survive and reproduce in the environment.
  • HS-LS4-5. Evaluate the evidence supporting claims that changes in environmental conditions may result in (1) increases in the number of individuals of some species, (2) the emergence of new species over time, and (3) the extinction of other species.


  • Computer with projector
  • Copies of the lesson quiz
  • Printer paper
  • Colored pencils


  • Begin this lesson by asking your students to tell you how they think new species are created. (Allow a few students to answer.)
  • Tell your students that they are going to learn about one way that a new species can be created as well as how different species become more alike as they watch the Convergent & Divergent Evolution: Definition & Examples video.
  • Start the video from the beginning and pause it the first time at 1:05 to ask and discuss the following:
    • What is evolution?
    • How long does evolution take to occur?
    • What impacts divergent and convergent evolution?
    • What requirement must be met within a population in order for evolution to occur?
  • Continue playing the video and pause it again at 3:53 to ask and discuss the following:
    • What is divergent evolution?
    • What causes divergent evolution to occur?
    • What is adaptive radiation?
    • What is an example of adaptive radiation?
  • Continue playing the video and pause it one last time 5:51 to ask and discuss the following:
    • What is convergent evolution?
    • What causes convergent evolution to occur?
    • What are some examples of convergent evolution?
  • Play the remainder of the video for your students and answer any questions they may have at this point.

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