a short story about Darwin for middle school students

Saul was only 12 years old when he stowed away aboard the HMS Beagle. It was 1831 and the ship was about to embark on a five year journey to chart the coastline of South America. Saul was always fascinated by nature and science, so he couldn't resist the chance to join the voyage. 

At first, Saul had to hide in dark corners to avoid being caught. He snuck table scraps when the crew wasn't looking. At night, he curled up behind barrels and crates to sleep. But one day, Captain Fitzroy discovered Saul. To his surprise, instead of being angry, the Captain offered Saul a job helping the naturalist Charles Darwin collect scientific specimens. Saul was thrilled!

The first stop was the Cape Verde Islands off the coast of Africa. Saul marveled at the giant colorful crabs, strange birds, and sizzling heat. Next was Brazil, where Saul saw his first rainforest up close. Toucans with banana-sized beaks squawked from tall jungle trees as monkeys swung from vine to vine.

After months at sea, the Galapagos Islands came into view. Saul rowed ashore with Darwin to collect specimens. Giant tortoises the size of tables lumbered by. Darwin noticed that each island's tortoises had differently shaped shells. Saul helped gather mockingbirds, finches, and plants, noticing they varied too. "Fascinating!" said Darwin. "Species seem adapted to each island."

The Beagle sailed along the Pacific coast next. In the Andes Mountains, Saul helped dig up fossil seashells at high altitudes. "Evidence the land rose gradually," Darwin muttered. In Patagonia, Saul unearthed huge fossils of strange gigantic animals. "Extinct species," Darwin said, scribbling notes.  

At Cape Horn, violent storms almost dashed the ship against jagged rocks. Saul lashed himself to the mast as huge waves crashed over the deck. When the sea calmed, everyone cheered their survival.

After 4 years and 38,000 miles at sea, the Beagle returned home to England. Saul said goodbye to his crewmates and Captain, promising to visit Charles Darwin. Thanks to the voyage, Saul's eyes were opened to the awe and wonder of nature. Most thrilling of all, he had helped Darwin gather crucial evidence that would lead to the theory of evolution and change science forever.

Educational resource reference: 

     *APES: II.A. Ecosystem structure - Biological populations and communities; ecological niches
    *APES: II.C. Ecosystem diversity - Biodiversity; natural selection; evolution; ecosystem services

Tags: geocomic Beagle Darwin evolution biology biomes environmental FK8