On Saturday, December 5th, I watched in awe as my old college buddy taught a large group of students age 8-11 about evolution. This wasn’t science class, and the only things the students were equipped with were crayons and plain, white paper.
Here is a basic breakdown of how Evolution! works:
Step one: Gather anywhere from 3-50 kids, of any age, in a room.
Step two: Give them paper and crayons.
Step three: Draw an animal.
Step four: Have those students re-draw that animal.
Step four: Gather those drawings and stick them to the wall.
Step five: Announce that some disastrous Earth-related event has occurred, and that only one animal stands any hope at surviving.
Step six: Laugh maniacally as the students cry out in horror as their animals are ripped from the wall.
Step seven: Repeat.
Tyler Rhodes’ Evolution! is one-of-a-kind. I first got to try out Evolution! my senior year of college, when, for our final Advanced Animation project, Tyler came up with the idea of going to classrooms to teach about evolution, while also guaranteeing that the students would have an awesome time. He’d make the animation later, I assumed. (Hint: he did)
The students would slave away at their drawings, adding horns and fins, extra teeth and forcefields, hoping and praying that their animal wouldn’t be drowned by a sudden tidal wave or sucked up into a tornado. Once the surviving animal was picked, the students went back to work to create an animal based off of the newest, highest evolved animal.
“Now make this animal withstand the desert.”; “That desert just froze over. Make this animal survive arctic conditions.”; “The arctic melted! Make this animal a deep-sea creature.”
What was most inspiring were the students’ knowledge of evolution already. After having an all new ecosystem put up on the wall, Tyler would ask which animals they thought stood the best chance against their new environmental nemesis. When debating which animal would do best or worst in each scenario, they discussed hibernation, water retention, defense mechanisms, color, and size.
Along with many students using programs like Photoshop and AfterEffects for the first time, they learned more about how evolution works and why it’s so important for us humans, specifically. At the end we hung up all of the top contenders on the wall to see our evolution chain. Some were hairy, some were scaly, but they were all related.
For more information about Evolution!, visit Tyler’s website: Evolution!
Check out this short video made during the Evolution! workshop: