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WHAT IS ENSIWEB?
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
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
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.
| NEWS, CHANGES, ADDITIONS
29 January 2016
SEE OUR ANNUAL REPORT for 2015
Including two 31 December Announcements there:
HHMI-BioInteractive's New Lesson:
HUMAN FEET ARE STRANGE
The Smithsonian's Traveling
EXPLORING HUMAN ORIGINS
14 January 2016
Announcing the 2016 Evolution Film Festival
and Video Contest!
Scientists and science educators of all stripes — students, postdocs, faculty, and full- or part-time science communicators — are invited to enter the Sixth Annual Evolution Video Competition, sponsored by the Duke Initiative for Science & Society, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), the Society for the Study of Evolution (SSE) and the BEACON Center for the Study of Evolution in Action.
First- and second-place winners will receive up to $1,000 and $500, respectively. The deadline to submit your video(s) is TUESDAY, MAY 31st, 2016 (11:00 PM, EST). For more information (and to see entries from previous years) please visit evolutionfilmfestival.org or contact Jory Weintraub (email@example.com)
Announcing the 2nd annual
Avida-ED Active LENS Workshop
Announcing the 2nd annual Avida-ED Active LENS Workshop at Michigan State University, June 9-11, 2016 in East Lansing, MI. The purpose of this workshop is to train instructors in the use of the Avida-ED software package, developed to help students learn about evolution and the nature of science, so that workshop participants can both implement classroom interventions using this software and also train other educators. Teams of two will learn to use Avida-ED and how to best incorporate it into courses that they teach. Travel and expenses related to the workshop will be covered for the 20 workshop participants as part of an NSF-funded IUSE grant. Click here for more information and how to apply.
14 November 2015
Becoming Whales lesson UPDATE: It was discovered that the Whales in the Making page with 6 pre-whale strips was somewhat out of date. The original Pakicetus head has been replaced with the subsequently found body skeleton, and the appropriately revised reconstruction. The original Rodhocetus kasrani trunk skeleton and skull was replaced with the more complete skeleton based on legs and tail finds of R. balochistanensis reported by Gingerich in 2001. The more accurate reconstruction (without tail flukes) also replaces the former version. NOTE: There have been several copies of an interview with Gingerich posted on anti-evolution websites, where the scientific conclusions about Rodhocetus have been ridiculed, making science look weak. Actually, this is an excellent example showing how scientific understanding can and does change in light of new evidence (new fossils) which you might want to share with your students.
Using the NGSS to Teach the Nature of Science. Article in California Classroom Science: October 2015, 28(2); http://www.classroomscience.org/using-the-ngss-to-teach-the-nature-of-science
NEW Evolution Lesson: The Galapagos Origami Bird
Its DNA Connection
This new lesson is based on Karin Westerling's Origami Birds, and the study by Dr. Yamanoi. Students experience how the random mutations they produce can result in random variations, from which environmental factors allow certain variations to survive and reject others. Emphasis is on the random events and their interaction with selective pressures in the environment, showing that the birds do NOT adapt (or "develop adaptations") in order to fly longer distances, or because they need to adapt. Those are Lamarckian teleological inferences that are not consistent with scientific studies.
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.
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
WINDING DOWN - MAKING PLANS
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
3 December 2014
Also... New Bio-Science Resource Site Added:
About the Science Surprises e-text for students
Using ENSI Nature of Science Lessons
20 October 2014
Exceptional Online Resources
for Teaching Evolution and NOS:
Selected Summaries and Links from the
Life Discovery Conference 2014
ALSO: Timely Information from Understanding Evolution (Oct. 2014):
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
Climate Change: Teaching This Through the Life Sciences: Resources
Modeling and the NGSS
Science Forward Video Series: NOS and other videos available online
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
Our Skulls Lab hasn't been updated for about 15 years.
Special Issue of
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.
Number of Visits Since October 1998: