Eugenics Lesson Plan

Instructor: Adrianne Baron

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

Eugenics has been taken to an extreme in our world's history. Your students will learn more about eugenics as they read a text lesson, create a pros and cons table with descriptions on how eugenics could be used positively and negatively and take a quiz.

Lesson Objectives

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

  • Define eugenics
  • Identify positive and negative eugenics
  • Describe possible effects of eugenics


2 hours

Curriculum Standards


Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of science and technical texts, attending to important distinctions the author makes and to any gaps or inconsistencies in the account.


Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., quantitative data, video, multimedia) in order to address a question or solve a problem.



  • Start the lesson by telling your students that they are going to learn some information about eugenics and see how it has played out over the years as they read the Eugenics: Definition & Explanation text lesson.
  • Read from the beginning through the end of the 'History' section, then ask and discuss the following:
    • What is eugenics?
    • Who wrote the Hereditary Genius?
    • What are some early examples of eugenics?
    • What is Social Darwinism?
    • How does eugenics relate to Social Darwinism?
    • What is active eugenics?
    • What is passive eugenics?
  • Continue reading through the 'Legality in America' section, then ask and discuss:
    • What was the Buck v. Bell (1927) legal decision?
    • What types of people were sterilized?
    • Whose rights were limited by some states?
  • Continue reading the rest of the lesson, then ask and discuss:
    • What major event began the decline of eugenic practices?
    • How did social acceptance and social change effect eugenic practices?

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