The Scopes Trial began today in 1925.
In 1925, from July 10 to July 21, John Scopes was on trial for teaching the idea of evolution in his public school classroom in Dayton, Tennessee. The court case, dubbed the "Trial of the Century," featured two of the most famous attorneys in the United States-Clarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryan.
The Scopes Trial focused on the evolution of mammals, but the word evolution can refer to other objects and processes, such as tools, computers, and automobiles. Have your students brainstorm a list of objects and processes that have changed over time. Then, individually or in small groups, invite students to choose and focus on one item from the list. Allow them to use the interactive Timeline tool to sketch out the changes, or evolution, of the items that they have chosen. View more tips to learn more about the tool. After considering the changes that have occurred for the items, have students examine the significance of the changes. In their opinions, have the changes affected the world for the better or for worse? Students can then share their information and opinions with the whole class.
Conclude the project by posting all of the timelines on your classroom wall, creating a giant timeline of the evolution of the items your students have investigated. Invite students to look for patterns as well as to connect the timelines to historical events that occurred during the same time period. For a more structured activity, try the resources in the ReadWriteThink lesson Timelines and Texts: Motivating Students to Read Nonfiction.
This website, developed by PBS, features detailed information about the Scopes, or “Monkey” Trial, including images from the famous courthouse in Dayton, Tennessee.
Part of the University of Missouri, Kansas City School of Law collection Famous Trials in American History, this site highlights documents related to the Scopes Trial.
This article, featured in the National Geographic Magazine, tells about life in Dayton, Tennessee 75 years after the Scopes Trial took place there.
This NPR resource offers a timeline of events surrounding the Scopes trial, as well as audio of an All Things Considered feature on the subject.