Science Explorations
Animals, Adaptation, and the Galápagos Islands
Level 2

Grade Level: 5–Up

Make the Match

  1. Review the Scientist Tips before students start the activity. Emphasize how scientists need to have evidence to support their findings.
  2. Have students record important information about the saddlebacked, domed, and intermediate tortoises in their Field Journal (PDF).
  3. As students look for patterns to link the five Galápagos Tortoise species to their home islands in Make the Match, have them identify the evidence that points to their decision and record it in their notes.
(Teacher Solution: Mudhole Mel is a domed tortoise from Indefatigable Island. Stretch is a saddleback tortoise from Hood Island. Georgie is a saddlebacked tortoise from Abingdon Island. Sandy is an intermediate tortoise from Chatham Island. Island Ilsa is an intermediate tortoise from James Island.).


  1. Choose one or more of the questions to investigate and have students begin researching the birds using the photos and articles.
  2. Hand out copies of a blank Venn Diagram (PDF)so students can organize information as they compare and contrast the birds.
  3. Students can record their scientific findings in the Field Journal (PDF).

Lesson Extensions
For offline activities that encourage self-directed inquiry, check out Backyard Science.

Follow Up Thinking
Continue student discussion with these questions.

  • What scientific explanation is there for a different tortoise species living on each Galápagos Island?
  • What might happen if two tortoise species swapped islands?
  • What can scientists do for giant tortoise species that are nearing extinction?
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