How a Middle School Teacher Can Use Artificial Intelligence to Teach Evolution

Phil Carver, Science, James Martin Middle School

Final Unit (PDF)  Implementing Common Core Standards (PDF)


This curriculum unit (CU) parallels the concepts of Evolution and Artificial Intelligence (AI) for the purpose of making the Theory of Evolution easier to grasp for the middle school student. This analogy and background information is supplied for the teacher who has no experience in AI and its related fields. The concepts of Machine Learning, Evolutionary Robotics, and Universal Darwinism are all subsets of AI. Terms such as adaptation, natural selection, fitness, random, mutations, variation, and evolutionary algorithms are commonly used with both evolution and subfields of AI. By providing activities, the middle school teacher can provide hands on, higher order thinking along with inquiry-based learning. The activities in the last section of this CU serve to reinforce the principles shown in the body of this work. In the Teaching Strategies section, I give ideas and strategies on how to parallel AI with evolution. There are ideas and background for both struggling students with below-grade reading levels as well as gifted students. For gifted and higher order thinkers, algorithms can be integrated into this CU for interdisciplinary lessons with math. In one activity, there are ideas to combine evolution with art.