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Flammer, L., J. Beard, C.E. Nelson, & M. Nickels. 1998. ENSIWEB. Evolution/Nature of Science Institutes. Retrieved [current date] from
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This is a collection of classroom lessons to help high school biology teachers more effectively teach basic concepts in the areas of evolution and the nature of science. They were developed and tested during nine years of summer institutes by biology teachers from across the nation.

SITE INTEGRITY is maintained through the oversight by the three co-directors of ENSI:
Dr. Jean Beard (Biology Ed.)
Dr. Craig E. Nelson (Biology)
Dr. Martin Nickels (Anthropology)
and continuous feedback from the many ENSI and SENSI teachers, professors and other users of this site. Check the People section for photos and bios of these people.

NSF Logo

We are especially grateful to theNational Science Foundation for funding these institutes over the years and for extending that funding to the development and maintenance of this web site (NSF/TPE: 88-555-60 and 90-555-85 to Indiana University, and 91-552-59 to San Jose State University). We are also grateful to Indiana University for allowing us the use of their web server to make this material freely available to teachers.


2 October 2015

Chromosome Fusion: Major adjustments (mostly due to changes in the DNA online tools and data. No more part C, but still an excellent lesson for students to get a real sense of amount of DNA in a chromosome, and recognizing a particular series of tandem repeats. Also, any one or more of three ways to do this, depending on time and computer access. This is a good inquiry lesson, seeking to test a particular hypothesis.

Added to the website:
Common Misconceptions to Avoid about Evolution. Link added to Intro to Evolution page under
Science Preparation for Elementary Students (last page from Science Surprises teacher's guide). Link for this can also be found at bottom of Teaching Units page.

The Great Fossil Find: Added new handouts and 4 new sets of fossils, adapted by ENSI user Rodger Moore from those in Craig Munsart's book Investigating Science With Dinosaurs: 9/8/2015. See under Extensions & Variations item #9.
Also added a REVIEW of this lesson (under Synopsis) and a couple more worksheet variations.

Share recent discovery of early human fossils by Dr. Lee Berger, and witnessed by Dallas middle school teacher John Mead. Great time for your students to do the ENSI Skulls Lab.

6 September 2015

NEW ALTERNATIVE to The Checks Lab: September 2015: NEW: The E-Mail Lab: Article by Judith Lederman, et al in The Science Teacher for September 2015, 82(6):57-61. Building on the ENSI Checks Lab (by ENSI teachers Steve Randak and Judy Loundagin), the authors developed a collection of 16 emails (available for free download) from which students attempt to infer past events based on a few samplings of those emails. See the Extensions and Variations section of The Checks Lab.

New Reviews for Science Surprises, including positive review by NSTA. See www.indiana.edu/~ensiweb/ss.book.avail.html

Laetoli Trackways: Article on capturing 3D photogrammetric images of ancient human footprints: "First Impressions" by Jeff Wheelwright in Discover magazine for October, 2015, pp. 79-81. See Resources in the Laetoli Trackway lesson.

NEW: Evolution Lab Guide by NOVA LABS: Everywhere you go on this planet—on land, underground, in the air, and in the water—you’ll find life that has been shaped by evolution. In NOVA’s Evolution Lab, students will explore the evidence of evolution through the lens of phylogeny. See Evo.LabGuide.pdf for details and links.

30 August  2015

Teaching Evolution through Human Examples: For AP Biology. The Smithsonian has developed four excellent teaching units for free download. There are other related topics as well that can also be used in high school biology.
"What Science is NOT" (several items): Changes in several items in the List have been made, for clarification and better accuracy. There were two items that appeared contradictory to some, so made them less ambiguous, and clarified others while I was at it. Changes also made on second list of What Science is Not.
Science Knowledge Survey (Science Misconceptions Pre/Post-Test): Clarification changes in several items, including one change in the key: item 7 should be B, not A (due to change in wording).
Crime Against Plants: Case Report for Students (pdf): posted sharper copy, with revised links at bottom).

16 August  2015
Many additions and revisions since last posting.
Lost & found: Using Historical Explanations
to Teach How Science Works

Teacher Planning materials available
Chaos & Order lesson with major revisions
Active Learning: new resources available
Science Surprises with sharp rise in orders
Click Here for details

30 May 2015


It's that time of year again, when teachers are wrapping up the teaching year... and good teachers are looking ahead to next year. It's one of the most rewarding parts of teaching: Being able to make a fresh start each year. Time to reinforce what worked best, and replace or improve what didn't go so well. Or try something completely different.

All the new standards emphasize the importance for explicitly teaching the nature of science (NOS). Are you planning to do a better job on that next year? It's not too early to get started. Many teachers have already requested copies of the student text and the teaching guide, so they can prepare this Summer for teaching this unit in the Fall. Click here for more information, and to preview these materials.

Have a great school-year wrap-up.

15 February 2015
Chromosome Comparison Lesson
(by Beth Kramer, ENSI 1992)
This lesson has been completely updated. Chromosome diagrams from Principle Investigator Yunis's 1980 paper have been replaced with diagrams from his 1982 paper. These are sharper, with more details, and similarities of human and great ape chromosome banding patterns are even more striking. Instructions, questions and answers (Key) have all been changed appropriately. Old html figures have been replaced with much sharper pdf figures. Family name of "hominoids" for humans and apes has been replaced with "hominids" to reflect current taxonomy (although orangutans are actually pongids). The Chromosome Comparison PowerPoint (and its script) have also been revised to show that change. Be sure to NOTE SPECIAL PRINTING DIRECTIONS near the top of the
Index to Graphics

21 January 2015
Greatly updated version of
Science Surprises
is now available online.

ENSI Annual Report for 2014
is also available.
Take a look at
ENSI Progress over the past year.

3 December 2014
NSTA-Sponsored Podcast:
About the Science Surprises e-text for students
Using ENSI Nature of Science Lessons

Also... New Bio-Science Resource Site Added:

20 October 2014

Exceptional Online Resources
for Teaching Evolution and NOS
Selected Summaries and Links from the
Life Discovery Conference 2014

HHMI BioInteractive:
            Anoles Evolution Virtual Lab
            The Beak of the Finch
Avida-Ed Digital Evolution Software: Evolution in the Classroom
BoxCar2D: Evolving Better Cars:
            Teaching Evolution by Natural Selection
            Design Competition
Climate Change: Teaching This Through the Life Sciences: Resources
Modeling and the NGSS
Science Forward Video Series: NOS and other videos available online

ALSO: Timely Information from Understanding Evolution (Oct. 2014):
Ebola and Evolution
Two Highest-Rated Lessons (grades 6-16):
- Artificially Seleccting Dogs (from UCM)P
- Making of the Fittest: Natural Selection & Adaptation (from HHMI)

23 August 2014
Human Evolution
Special Issue of
Scientific American

September 2014

Our Skulls Lab hasn't been updated for about 15 years.
If you do that lab, you can use lots of material from this issue
of Scientific American, showing what a dynamic and changing subject Paleoanthropology is.
Human evolution is still one of the best examples
of the science of evolution, with much evidence coming from fossil studies, DNA analyses, primate studies.
Talk about the power of multiple lines of evidence!
If you develop any new materials for teaching
human evolution, please share with us.


All the lessons on this web site are copyrighted by ENSI, or posted with permission of its source.

This material may be copied only for noncommercial classroom teaching purposes, and only if this source is clearly cited.

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