HMS Beagle: Darwin’s Trip around the World

HMS Beagle: Darwin’s Trip around the World

Charles Darwin sailed around the world from 1831–1836 as a naturalist aboard the HMS Beagle. His experiences and observations helped him develop the theory of evolution through natural selection.

Grades

5 - 8

Subjects

Biology

Idea for Use in the Classroom

Charles Darwin set sail on the ship HMS Beagle on December 27, 1831, from Plymouth, England. Darwin was twenty-two years old when he was hired to be the ship’s naturalist. Most of the trip was spent sailing around South America. There Darwin spent considerable time ashore collecting plants and animals. Darwin filled notebooks with his observations of plants, animals, and geology. The trip was an almost five-year adventure and the ship returned to Falmouth, England, on October 2, 1836.

Throughout South America, Darwin collected a variety of bird specimens. One key observation Darwin made occurred while he was studying the specimens from the Galapagos Islands. He noticed the finches on the island were similar to the finches from the mainland, but each showed certain characteristics that helped them to gather food more easily in their specific habitat. He collected many specimens of the finches on the Galapagos Islands. These specimens and his notebooks provided Darwin with a record of his observations as he developed the theory of evolution through natural selection.

Have students work in pairs to use the map and the resources in the explore more tab to create a social media feed that includes five dates and posts from the expedition. Students may need to conduct additional research to ensure their proposed posts are factual and something Darwin would have seen on the trip. Help students brainstorm ideas for their posts by asking: What types of animals would Darwin have seen? Are any of them extinct today? What types of plants did he note? What types of geology did he see? What would you imagine some of the hardships the explorers would have encountered on this voyage?

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Director
Tyson Brown, National Geographic Society
Author
National Geographic Society, National Geographic Society
Production Managers
Gina Borgia, National Geographic Society
Jeanna Sullivan, National Geographic Society
Program Specialists
Sarah Appleton, National Geographic Society, National Geographic Society
Margot Willis, National Geographic Society
other
Last Updated

May 20, 2022

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