Interactive Assessment for The Biology of Skin Color
A number of interactive questions are embedded within the short film The Biology of Skin Color, which explores the hypothesis that the variations in skin color in humans arose as adaptations to the intensity of ultraviolet radiation in different parts of the world.
Our human ancestors in Africa likely had dark skin, which is produced by an abundance of the pigment eumelanin in skin cells. In the high ultraviolet (UV) environment of sub-Saharan (or equatorial) Africa, darker skin protects against the damaging effects of UV radiation. In this film, anthropologist Nina Jablonski explains that the variation in skin color that evolved since our human ancestors migrated out of Africa can be explained by the trade-off between protection from UV and the need for some UV absorption for the production of vitamin D.
This version of the film with embedded questions contains automatic pause points, during which students answer questions about the film to assess their understanding of the concepts presented. After answering all the questions, students can view and print their answers.
Student Learning Targets
Explain the cellular and molecular mechanisms that determine the color of human skin.
Explain how variations in skin color in humans evolved.
adaptation, anthropology, folate, melanin, melanocortin 1 receptor (MC1R), pigmentation, ultraviolet (UV) radiation, vitamin D
Jablonski, Nina G. Living Color: The Biological and Social Meaning of Skin Color. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2012.
HS-LS3-1, HS-LS3-3, HS-LS4-1, HS-LS4-3, HS-PS4-4; SEP6
1.A.1, 1.A.2, 1.C.3, 3.A.1, 3.C.1, 4.C.1, 4.C.2; SP6
1.2, 2.6, 3.4, 5.1, 10.2
CC1, CC2; DP1