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Table 1 Descriptive summary of some of the activities developed during the project Playing with the Big Tree of Evolution

From: Evolutionism and the Teaching of Science: How Portugal Has Been “Playing with the Big Tree of Evolution

Workshop 1: “Evolution: at the first we were one …”
Goal: to address the wonderful and still-unfolding story which started with the origin of the Universe.
Keypoints focused on: Big Bang and the origin of the Universe; the formation of the planet Earth and the origin of the first life forms; theories for the origin and diversity of life: Creationism vs. Evolution; Evolutionism and the role of the fossil evidence; introduction to the kingdoms of life,
Pedagogical activities: Game 1, The little naturalist: children will attempt to regroup several organisms, previously drawn and colored on paperboard, in kingdoms. Game 2, Let’s play fossils...: fossils will be made in plaster simulating ammonites and trilobites and painted by children (Fig. 1).
Workshop 2: “Fossils: our grandparents”
Goals: to understand the evolutionary process through phylogenetic information derived from our closest relatives—primates—and fossils; to understand human origins and our ancestors, their main characteristics, habitats, and evolutionary adaptations.
Keypoints focused on: What are fossils and how are they formed? How do we understand human evolution? Inferences based on the study of nonhuman primates (phylogeny and taxonomy) and hominin fossil remains. Us and our closest relatives: locomotion, encephalization, tool use, and language.
Pedagogical activities: Game 1, From Pan to Homo: The game aims to consolidate knowledge about the main steps of human evolution. The game comprises a physical activity circuit and questions related to the oral presentation (Fig. 2). Game 2, Human Evolution Jeopardy Quiz: This interactive quiz is composed of several questions about the human evolution journey and is played by two distinct teams formed at the beginning of the workshop.
Workshop 3: “Dance of the skeletons”
Goals: To introduce the role of the skeleton in the physiological balance of the human body; to clarify the importance of recovering human skeletal remains from archaeological contexts to reconstruct past populations’ history and evolution.
Keypoints focused on: basic notions of human osteology: What is the skeleton? What are bones made of? How does the human skeleton develop during fetal life? How many bones do children and adults have? What are the main function of the skeleton and joints? Short introduction to the work of the biological anthropologist in the field, during the recovery of the skeletal remains, and in the laboratory, focusing on the type of information that can be retrieved from ancient bones (e.g., sex and age at death of the individuals, ancestrality, diseases, diet, among others).
Pedagogical activities: Game 1, Bone’s Dance: roll-and-move game comprised of several questions that finishes in the simulation of an excavation in a sandbox (Fig. 3).
Workshop 4: “Monkey business”
Goals: To present the taxonomic classification of the Order Primates; to introduce our closest living relatives; to reveal the importance of knowing nonhuman primates and the need to preserve their habitat.
Keypoints focused on: All are primates, but only some are monkeys: nomenclature and taxonomy of Primates. Our closest relatives: phylogeny of chimpanzees and humans, main differences, and similarities. What is the importance of studying the behavior of nonhuman primates? The importance of preserving habitats and their inhabitants.
Pedagogical activities: Game 1: Can you do it like they do?: The game intends to recreate some tool-use behaviors observed in wild chimpanzees, like termite-fishing and nut-cracking (Fig. 4).
Workshop 5: “Drawings and scribbles—Prehistoric art”
Goals: The concept of Art is applied to demonstrate prehistory’s symbolic and social behavior. Being conceived as a “spirit transcends nature,” art expresses itself by creating works with goals other than the satisfaction of subsistence needs. Art allows aesthetic expression linked with symbolic and playful behaviors.
Keypoints focused on: Prehistoric art: An introduction; Paleolithic and Late Prehistoric “Art”: Notion, concept, topics, and techniques.
Pedagogical activities: Game 1: Our hands on paint: preparation of pigments and tools for painting (Fig. 5).