Teacher Institute for Evolutionary Science

Learn About TIES

Our Mission

To provide middle school teachers the tools they need to effectively teach evolution and answer its critics based on new Next Generation Science Standards.

Support TIES

Support our work by donating or shopping in our store and look smart with our t-shirts and other gear!

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TIES Workshop Walk-Through

The following links take you through an actual TIES Workshop. The focus is on Florida’s middle school science standards on evolution. In their latest report, the National Center for Science Education gave Florida a grade of A for its science standards on evolution.


By clicking the buttons below, you can watch students working through two hands-on activities on the topic of natural selection. Both activities can be downloaded below under the “Ready-to-Go Evolution Unit” tab.

Click here to view the Next Generation Science Standards on Natural Selection and Evolution for Middle School

Teacher Materials

Ready-to-Go Middle School Evolution Unit

All you need to effectively address your middle school evolution standards.

Bell-Ringer #1 (PDF)
Bell-Ringer #2 (DOCX)
Classroom Presentation with Teacher Guide in Notes Section (Powerpoint)
This Lab is For the Birds (DOC)
Evolution Exam (DOC)

Evolution Resources by Curriculum Standard

General Online Resources for Evolution

Understanding Evolution, University of California, Berkeley
Reading Guide for Understanding Evolution, UC Berkeley (DOC)
NSTA Featured Lessons: Teaching Heredity and Evolution in the Next Generation
NSTA Learning Center
NGSS Life Science: Evolution and Natural Selection Lesson Plans
Stated Clearly [Videos] (The basics of Genetics and Evolution)
The 12 Days of Evolution Series (Videos)
From Land to Water: Whale Evolution Game
From Land to Water: Answer Key

Fact, Hypothesis, Law, and Theory

Fact vs Theory (Video)

Addressing Evolution Myths and Misconceptions

Myths and Misconceptions about Evolution (Video)

Evolution Explains Life’s Common Ancestry and Diversity

NOVA Lab Game
Evogeneao Interactive Tree of Life Explorer
One Zoom Tree of Life Explorer
The 12 Days of Evolution Series (Videos)
UC Berkeley’s The Tree Room for Teachers
Candy Phylogeny Lab to accompany Phylogenetics Presentation(DOC)
Phylogenetics Presentation (PPT)

Geologic Timescale

Earth’s Entire History (Visualized on a Football Field)
Tattoo Timeline Activity

The History of Evolutionary Theory

Who was Charles Darwin?

Evolution Isn’t Perfect

The Recurrent Laryngeal Nerve and its Crazy Path in a Giraffe (Video)
Welcome to the Very Weird Human Convention
Clues to Prehistoric Times Found in Blind Cavefish (Video)

NGSS Middle School Standards Related to Evolutionary Science

Natural Selection and Adaptation
Growth, Development, and Reproduction of Organisms
Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems

Addressing your Concerns as Science Teachers

The NSTA Position Statement on Evolution Education
Dealing With Objections
Common Misconceptions- Teacher FAQ

No Evolution Standards at your grade level? Integrate them!

Symbiosis Films and Lessons

For Spanish Speakers

Todo Sobre La Evolución

Ready-to-Go Elementary School Evolution Unit

All you need to effectively address your elementary school evolution standards.

TIES Teacher Guide to Evolution for Elementary School Teachers (DOC) 
Elementary School TIES Classroom Presentation (Grades 3-5)
Elementary Version-This Lab is for the Birds
Fossilization Game
Fossilization-Horse vs Stegosaurus



Natural Selection

Hands-on Investigations

This Lab is For the Birds (DOC)
Moth Simulation-Lab (DOCX) (See a science teacher trying out this lab with her students here)
Using the Telephone Game to Teach Natural Selection
HHMI’s Variations in the Clam Species Clamys sweetus

Online Games

Charles Darwin’s Game of Survival | Discovery Science
Science Education for Public Understanding Program’s Natural Selection Model
McGraw Hill Natural Selection Virtual Lab
PBS Build-a-Fish

Natural Selection Activities Packet

Concept Cartoons and Classroom Activities by Kristin Griffith


Excellent and Simple Explanation of Natural Selection
Why are sloths so slow? (Teacher Guide included)
The Wild World of Carnivorous Plants (Teacher Guide included)
Harvard’s University The Evolution of Bacteria on a Mega-Plate Petri Dish
HHMI BioInteractive Video Galapagos Finch Evolution (We recommend you view this
after students do This Lab is for the Birds)
Stated Clearly-Natural Selection
Amoeba Sisters-Natural Selection
For more advanced students, we recommend HHMI’s The Biology of Skin Color

Evidence for Evolution

Short Lessons on Evidence for Evolution to compliment TIES Classroom Presentation

Rotation Lab


Fossils 101: How are Fossils Formed?
NCSE’s Fossils Everywhere!


UC Berkeley’s Evolibrary

Law of Superposition

What does the Law of Superposition Mean (Games and more)

Artificial Selection

The Amazing Siberian Fox Experiment (Video)                                                                   Classroom Reading for the Siberian Fox Experiment

Vestigial Structures

Proof of Evolution that you can find on your body (Video)
PBS: How did Whales Evolve?

Similarities-Homologous Structures

NOVA Embryo Activity: Timing is Everything
Chromosome Comparison

Genes as Homologous Structures

Richard Dawkins-Comparing the Human and Chimpanzee Genomes
Kenneth Miller Explains Human Chromosome #2

Human Evolution

Smithsonian Human Origins Project
Skull Comparison Activity without the Expensive Skulls
“Teach Evolution Like a Boss” by Victoria Klahn (Video)

A Special Thank You!

TIES would like to recognize our wonderful donor, Dr. Lawrence Bonchek, without whom our full-day workshops would not be possible. Teachers in Georgia, Montana, and Utah received a day of excellent professional development thanks to Dr. Bonchek. He is also the reason our TIES presenters receive stipends for their participation and our webpage will soon be NGSS-aligned. Thanks, Dr. Larry!!

Join Our Ties Teacher Corps

Do you recognize the importance of evolutionary science in our modern society and want to educate future generations on its relevance? We are looking for science teachers who can volunteer to present workshops in their school districts and local colleges on their state science standards on evolution and natural selection.

Share Your Best Practices

Do you have a lab idea or lessons that work that you’d like to share?

Send your lessons and labs to Bertha Vazquez by clicking the button below and we will post them up on our site in the section at the bottom of the page.

Our fellow teachers are often our best resources.

Where We've Been

Webinar Schedule

Our last 2019 Webinars

Watch all previous webinars below!

From December 5: Meet teenage author Bailey Harris!

From October 15: Everything You Know About Sex Is Wrong, with Dr. Abby Hafer: https://www.crowdcast.io/e/everything-you-know

From June 2: Unnatural Selection with author Katrina van Grouw: https://www.crowdcast.io/e/unnatural-selection-with


Meet the Director: Bertha Vazquez

Bertha Vazquez has been teaching middle school science in Miami-Dade County Public Schools for 24 years. She has BA in Biology from the University of Miami and a Master’s in Science Education from Florida International University. A seasoned traveler who has visited all seven continents, she enjoys introducing the world of nature and science to young, eager minds. An educator with National Board Certification, she is the recipient of several national and local honors, including the 2014 Samsung’s $150,000 Solve For Tomorrow Contest and The Charles C. Bartlett National Excellence in Environmental Award in 2009. She has been the Miami-Dade Science Teacher of the Year three times, in 1997, 2008, and 2017. She is the 2017 recipient of the National Association of Biology Teachers Evolution Education Award and is also one of Florida’s 2017 finalists for the most prestigious science award in the country, The Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.

And our TIES Associate, Kenny Coogan

Kenny Coogan earned a BS in Animal Behavior at the University of Buffalo, NY. He then worked in the education departments of zoological facilities for 10 years before becoming a science teacher. He was awarded the Beginning Science Teacher of the Year Award for the state of Florida through the Florida Association of Science Teachers. He has averaged over $10,000 worth of donations for his classroom per year. In his spare time, he is a regular columnist for for print magazines such as Backyard Poultry. Kenny shares his one acre permaculture homestead with cats, chickens, ducks, and a 30-year old Moluccan cockatoo named Buddy. His goal is to live off of the land. At TIES, he helps with social media, workshop preparation, and venue searches.



2019 Workshop Schedule

 Join us for a live, in-person workshop!

    • February 8, 2019: The 27th Annual SDSTA/SDCTM Joint Conference SD STEM Ed Conference, Crossroads Hotel & Events Center, Huron, SD, presented by Alison Bowers
    •  February 9, 2019: Celebrating Darwin Day at CFI, 9 AM – 12 PM, CFI Headquarters. Amherst, NY, presented by Bertha Vazquez
    • February 13, 2019: Presenting the New LA Evolution Standards, 3:45-5:45 PM, St. Landry Parish, Opelousas, LA, presented by Blake Touchet
    • February 15, 2019: GSTA Annual Conference, Columbus Georgia Convention and Trade Center, Columbus, GA, presented by Patti Howell
    • February 16, 2019: Celebrating Darwin Day at MOSI, Museum of Science and Industry, Tampa, Fl, presented by Kenny Coogan & John Mead
    • February 18, 2019: The 48th Annual HASTI Conference, STEM: Science Teachers Engaging Students, Wyndham Indianapolis-West, Indianapolis, presented by Jenna Sutton
    • March 2, 2019: MSTA 66th Annual Conference, Amway Grand Plaza Hotel, Grand Rapids, MI, presented by Cheryl Hach
    • March 8, 2019: The 2019 Wisconsin Society for Science Teachers Conference, (8:00-9:00 am) Monona Terrace Conference Center, Madison, WI, presented by Kathy Van Hoeck
    • March 23, 2018: Full-Day Event-Evolution for Educators. Come learn how to implement your new state science standards with engaging lessons and resources. Hogle Zoo, Salt Lake City, UT, presented by Kenny Coogan
    • March 29, 2019: Full-Day Event at the Weatherbee Planetarium, Thrnateeska Heritage Center, Albany, GA, presented by Patti Howell and Bertha Vazquez
    • April 6, 2019: Full-Day Event- Evolution for Educators at Zoo Montana, with guest speaker Dr. James Barron, Billings, MT, presented by Kenny Coogan
    • April 6, 2019: The 2019 Maine Science Teachers Association Conference, Session 4 (1:45-2:15pm) University of Maine Hutchinson Center, Belfast, ME, presented by Dr. Elizabeth Cowles
    • April 13 2019: NSTA Share-a-thon, 9:30-11:00AM, in Grand Ballroom D/E, Hyatt Regency St. Louis at the Arch, presented by Jaime Kupfner
    • April 27, 2019: KATS KAMP, Kansas Cosmosphere, Hutchinson, KS, presented by Traci Richardson
    • June 5, 2019: Southwest Georgia RESA Science Conference, Camila, GA, presented by Carly Karas
    • June 20, 2019: Michigan Association of Biology Teachers Summer PD Conference, St. Clair High School, St. Clair, MI, presented by Rebecca Brewer
    • July 16, 2019: Science on the Grand, Van Andel Science Education Institute, Grand Rapids, MI, presented by Rebecca Brewer
    • July 19, 2019: FAST Area Five Mini Conference, STEM 4.0, Two TIES Sessions, Orlando, Fl, presented by Bertha Vazquez and Mary Martinez
    • July 22, 2019:The 2019 SEA Homeschoolers Online Symposium,12:30 – 1:15, presented by Bertha Vazquez (Registration: https://seahomeschoolers.com/2019-sea-symposium/
    • August 1, 2019: TIES for the Joint Unified School District of California, Colton High School, Colton, CA, presented by Kristin Griffith
    • August 12, 2019: The Great Idaho STEM Together, Lake City High School, Coeur d’Alene, ID, presented by Neva Telford
    • September 20, 2019: The 2019 NATS/NATM Fall Conference, Younes Conference Center, Kearney, NE, presented by Alan Wasmoen
    • October 6, 2019: The Pennsylvania Science Teachers Association Conference, Doubletree Resort, Lancaster, PA, presented by Robert Cooper
    • October 7, 2019: Iowa Academy of Science Conference, FFA Enrichment Center, DMACC, Ankeny Campus, Ankeny, IA, presented by Kathy Van Hoeck
    • October 12, 2019: Science Matters Share-A-Thon, Burke High School, Omaha, NE, presented by Alan Wasmoen
    • October 18, 2019: Illinois Math and Science Teachers Conference, Peoria Civic Center, Peoria, IL, presented by Kathy Van Hoeck
    • October 22, 2019: New Jersey Science Convention, Princeton Marriott at Forrestal, Princeton, NJ, presented by Robert Cooper
    • October 24, 2019: The Vermont Science Teachers Association Conference, Lake Morey Resort, Fairlee, VT, presented by Kathy Renfrew
    • October 25, 2019: Full-Day Evolution Extravaganza, Brandywine Zoo, Wilmington, DE, presented by Hannah Pretz and Bertha Vazquez
    • October 25, 2019: The Florida Association of Science Teachers Conference, Renaissance World Golf Village, St. Augustine, Fl, presented by Dr. Reginald Finley
    • October 25, 2019: NSTA Regional Conference, Salt Palace Convention Center, Salt Lake City, UT, presented by Jennifer Panczyszyn
    • October 26, 2019: Biennial Cross-Content Conference, Two TIES Sessions, Anchorage, AL, presented by Jaime Kupfner
    • November 2, 2019: Hawaii Science Teachers Association, McKinley High School, Honolulu, HI, presented by Kenny Coogan
    • November 4, 2019: The 2019 LATM/LSTA Joint Conference, Baton Rouge River Center, Baton Rouge, LA, presented by Blake Touchet
    • November 4, 2019: K-12 Professional Development Day, Miami Senior High School, Miami, Fl, presented by Dora Pilz
    • November 8, 2019: Measuring 3-Dimensional Science Learning ASTA Annual Conference, Challenger Space Center of Arizona, Phoenix, AZ, presented by Sephali Ray Thakkar
    • November 9, 2019: Colorado Science Conference, Denver Mart, Denver, CO, presented by Theresa Hemming
    • November 14, 2019: VAST Professional Development Institute, First TIES Session featuring our curriculum guide, Hotel Roanoke and Conference Center, Roanoke, VA, presented by Christopher Moran
    • November 14, 2019: NCSTA’s Professional Development Institute, Benton Convention Center, Winston-Salem, NC, presented by Carly Karas
    • November 15, 2019: Evolution at the Zoo!! Full-Day Professional Development, Birmingham Zoo, presented by Kenny Coogan
    • November 15, 2019: VAST Professional Development Institute, Second TIES Session featuring our hands-on and online resources, Hotel Roanoke and Conference Center, Roanoke, VA, presented by presented by Therese Wolak
    • November 23, 2019: CAST19, Hilton Anatole, Dallas, TX, presented by Sephali Ray Thakkar

To register for a workshop, email Bertha Vazquez.

For a list of 2015-2018 workshops, click here.

View Previous Webinars

Let’s Talk Climate on Earth Day
Apr 24, 2019 · 1 

Climate change… We hear about it, but it can be complicated, overwhelming, alarming and sometimes divisive. This Earth Month, join Blair Lee, author of The Science of Climate Change: A Hands-On Course & trained Climate Reality Leader will share basic information about the science and answer questions such as: “Is it really happening?” “How do …

Meet a Living Fossil, with Dr. Scott Thomson
Apr 24, 2019 · 1 

powered by Crowdcast

Dr Jones Evolution of Human Skin Color
Dec 10, 2018

Genomic technologies have recently led to a dramatic increase in our understanding of relationships among early members of our species. With access to genetic markers that distinguish different populations, we have been able to reconstruct a much more accurate picture of migration out of Africa and the various paths our ancestors took on the way …

A Conversation with Richard Dawkins
Aug 15, 2018

The Teacher Institute for Evolutionary Science (TIES) hosted a special webinar with evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins and Director of TIES Bertha Vazquez. Webinar date: 4/1/2018

Our face-to-face professional development workshops & webinars for middle school science teachers are being offered across the United States by members of our TIES Teacher Corps. For more information about organizing a TIES workshop or webinar near you, please contact TIES director Bertha Vazquez

Please check back regularly for our updated webinar offerings and soon-to-be-added interactive learning modules.