Warm Up

Helpful Words and Phrases

Listen and repeat.

  1. mysterious
    • ex. I heard a mysterious noise last night. I don’t know what it was.
    • ex. This diamond necklace is worth over $10,000.
  2. CCTV
    • ex. We feel safer because of the new CCTV system.
    • ex. I enjoyed learning about evolution in science class.
  3. natural selection
    • ex. Natural selection explains why giraffes have long necks.


Read the article below and answer your tutor's questions.

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Two of Charles Darwin’s notebooks were returned to the Cambridge University Library earlier this year, more than two decades after staff realized that they were missing. The notebooks were wrapped in plastic and put inside a pink gift bag outside the librarian’s office. A mysterious note wished the librarian a happy Easter and was signed by “X.” It’s estimated that the notebooks are worth millions of dollars.

Library staff discovered that the notebooks were missing during a routine check in 2001. At first, staff thought that they were just in the wrong place, but after years of searching, the library announced that someone had probably stolen them. Since then, the library has greatly increased its security, adding CCTV monitoring and special rooms. Although the notebooks have been returned, police are continuing to investigate the case.

Library staff explained that the notebooks are small, but their impact on the history of science is very big. Charles Darwin filled them with notes and drawings in 1837 after his famous trip to the Galapagos Islands. He used the notebooks to work on his theory of evolution by natural selection.


Choose a topic and discuss the questions with your tutor.

Darwin’s Notebooks

  • In your opinion, what happened to Darwin's notebooks in 2001 (ex. someone stole them, someone forgot to return them)? Why? Discuss.
  • Why do you think the mysterious note was signed by "X," not the person's real name (ex. he/she stole the books, he/she didn't want to be famous)? Discuss.
  • Do you agree that police should continue to investigate the case? Why or why not? Discuss.

Important Historical Items

  • Do you agree that Darwin's notebooks are important historical items? Why or why not? Discuss.
  • In your opinion, what items from today might become important historical items (ex. a Covid-19 test, a Ukrainian flag)? Why? Discuss.
  • Should important historical items be kept in museums for everyone to see? Why or why not? Discuss.