Do you want to teach about the water-vascular system found in echinoderms? How about the evolution of jellyfish mobility or the explosion of new lifeforms that occurred during the Cambrian era? If so, then the Shape of Life video series is just what you need!

The Shape of Life is an excellent collection of short-video segments and lesson plans that survey all the major animal phyla and how each evolved. While the video series has been around since 2002, the makers now offer it both free and online. The new format divides each episode into short, classroom-friendly segments. Each one can be viewed online or downloaded prior to class.

The video footage and animations in TheShape of Life are outstanding. Teachers of biology and marine biology courses can use these segments in any order they want, to enhance their curricula without the hassle of having to rewind a tape or scan through a DVD. Teachers can search through content by the eight major phyla or by the animations, scientist interviews, or other topics of interest. The search box allows anyone to find relevant video segments using keywords. While the content is somewhat elementary in complexity and depth, all the videos in this series are appropriate for learners of various ages.

Even though the content has not been updated since the original 2002 release, it is still very relevant to today’s curricula and standards. In fact, the website even advertises alignment with NGSS for grades 5 through 9. To bolster the impact these videos have on classroom practice, the makers include related lesson plans. These can be downloaded as pdf files. TheShape of Life also welcomes submissions of teacher-generated lesson plans.

REMY DOU taught high school life science for eight years before becoming an Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellow (2011–2013). Currently, he works as a Graduate Assistant at Florida International University where he contributes to STEM education research.