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in the natural world, coordinated by The Natural History Museum,
London. Part of BIOME, an integrated collection of internet
gateways covering the health and life sciences.
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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
20 October 2014
Exceptional Online Resources
for Teaching Evolution and NOS:
Selected Summaries and Links from the
Life Discovery Conference 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
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
Special Issue of the latest
Our Skulls Lab hasn't been updated for about 15 years.
If you do that lab, you can share lots of stuff 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 many coming from
Talk about the power of multiple lines of evidence!
If you develop any new materials for teaching
please share with us.
14 July 2014
New Evolution Survey Quiz
As of 14 July 2014, we have a new improved version of the Evolution Survey. This will replace the earlier version (posted since 2010). The new 2014 version has items roughly grouped by category; many have been reworded to be less ambiguous; all are adjusted to 7th grade reading level (or lower). There are similar numbers of true and false statements, somewhat randomly arranged so that not too many of the same answers are together. Thanks goes to ENSI user Laura Tulijak for the preliminary work on this.
24 May 2014
Active Learning: How to Do It (NEW 5/14):
All of the lessons on the ENSI site involve (and expect) active learning (or interactive learning) that is student-centered. This involves frequent use of “Think-Pair-Share” strategies and other tools. If you are not familiar with how to do this, or would like some help to implement or improve interactive learning in your classroom, then this collection of “Active Learning” tutorials (video clips) is a “must” for you.
11 May 2014
TEACHING the NATURE OF SCIENCE
Perspectives & Resources
by Douglas Allchin
REVIEW: In this new book, Allchin makes the excellent case for using authentic science historical narratives to teach what the real processes of science involve. Eveyone loves a good story! In addition to providing the rational for this, and several excellent examples, Allchin offers a rich collection of tips for developing your own narratives. 2013.
12 May 2014
New Text Supplement for Teaching
Nature of Science
Reflecting the ENSI Approach
Science Surprises: Exploring the Nature of Science is available again as an e-book Click Here for details.
17 February 2014
New Evo-Devo Book Review
Another book by Lewis Held, Jr.
How the Snake Lost its Legs
Fascinating Evo-Devo discoveries of the many
Tantalizing Traits in the Animal Kingdom
CLICK HERE for Review
20 January 2014
ENSI ANNUAL REPORT FOR 2013
Another busy year for the 16th year of ENSIWEB
Take a Look at What We've Accomplished,
and What's Ahead.
12 January 2014
The NEW Science Surprises
Science literacy is a vaccine against the charlatans of the world that would exploit your ignorance.
Neil deGrasse Tyson
Have you noticed a certain lack of science literacy in many (most?) of our legislators (and many other people)? Have you also noticed a significant lack of critical thinking skills in your students? And are you aware of the many misconceptions people have about science? At the same time, have you also noticed that virtually all science textbooks deal poorly (incompletely and/or inaccurately) with many important aspects of the nature of science (NOS), including critical thinking skills?
WE HAVE A SOLUTION! A text supplement is now available for use with any science textbook. It can supplement the first chapter of your text, or completely replace it. It’s called Science Surprises. In fact, this is actually an introductory UNIT on the nature of science, suitable for any secondary science class. It includes the Science Surprises student text, the Teacher’s Guide, and several of the excellent, classroom-tested NOS lessons freely accessible from the ENSI website. CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS.
8 January 2014
BECOMING WHALES: REVISIONS AND ADDITIONS
Our Whale Evolution Lesson: Becoming Whales
has several new figures and resources added.
(Go to "Materials" and click to get pictures.)
There are now two choices for the set of six fossil whales
(both updated and sharp).
There are two new diagrams
showing how India was “rafted” north
and rammed into Asia,
even a side view animation
showing how the continental plates came together,
Tethys Sea bottom scraped off
and scrunched up to become the Himalayas.
With sound effects!
Check them out.
Also, an improved page with 6 modern whales.
And a link to YouTube video clips from the
PBS Darwin’s Dangerous Idea series, part 2
showing studies of whale evolution
(see link in Teacher’s Materials).
Improved version of Darwin’s Evolutionary Tree.
All bad links have been corrected or removed.
Finally, an intriguing whale cartoon –
good for discussion.
14 October 2013
Evolution: Education & Outreach
Evolution: Education & Outreach journal is now open access
(=free access), thanks to Springer Link Publishers.
These are excellent and useful articles by professional scientists about the many aspects of evolutionary science and the teaching of those topics, for secondary and university teachers. Each issue includes an editorial, curriculum / education articles, several original scientific articles, and media reviews. CLICK HERE for easy access to volumes/issues for any of several topics.
9 July 2013
New MYSTERY BOXES Material
New Lesson that focuses on
a Key Objective for the NGSS.
Includes links to latest issue of NSTA's
The Science Teacher with several articles
on Scientific Argumentation.
Original Checks Lab lesson also modified
to stress Scientific Argumentation as well
23 June 2013
How to Win the Evolution War: Teach Macroevolution
By Kevin Padian
"If the American public understood what is actually known about the major evolutionary transitions in the history of life and how we know about them, uncertainty about evolution would drop precipitously, creationist arguments would fall on deaf ears, and public education in biology would make much more sense than it now does. Macroevolution must take a much more prominent place in K-12 science teaching. To do so, a curriculum must be redeveloped at both K-12 and college levels, so that preparation in macroevolution is a required part of K-12 biology preparation" [emphasis added]. Evolution: Education and Outreach, v.3, issue 2, June 2010.
Commentary about meeting NGSS standards,
with links to resources are added.
2 June 2013
Two Items for Nature of Science Experiences
from 3-D Molecular Design.
Here are two novel sets of materials to add to your collection of NOS teaching tools. One is called The Data Dilemma – Modeling Scientific Practice. The other is called The Mystery Tubes – A Black Box Activity. They both come with presentation procedures and discussion questions. They also have lists of the national NGSS that they satisfy. They are available from 3-D Molecular Design.
21 February 2013
Join the World of Genomics Studies
Learn a Valuable Skill.
Do you have students interested in the applications of their DNA knowledge? How about students looking for independent projects for science fair or extra credit? Or how about having your lab assistants learn to use the materials of genomics studies? Any computer whizzes in your classes? Working with these materials could be a snap for them.
Click here for more details
27 January 2013
NEW: Artificial Selection Lab
Kindly Contributed to ENSIweb by
Dr. Theodore Garland, Jr. and
Dr. Tricia Radojcic
BORN to RUN: Artificial Selection Lab
Students are introduced to the field of experimental
evolution by evaluating skeletal changes in mice that have been
artificially selected over many generations for the behavioral
trait of voluntary exercise wheel running. A video presentation by Dr.
Theodore Garland, Jr. of the University of California, Riverside
discusses the experimental design and presents the results of
the collaborative research on the structural, metabolic, and
neural changes in the selected lines of mice. In an inquiry-based
activity, students develop hypotheses about the skeletal changes
that might occur in the legs of the selected mouse populations
and design an investigation using measurements taken from photographed
femurs (thigh bones) of mice from both selected lines and non-selected
19 January 2013
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
ENSI Annual Report for 2012
for Compelling Connection between
Microevolution and Macroevolution
Hominid Chromosomes Article:
Look for the February edition of the NABT journal,
The American Biology Teacher. In that issue, you will find an article on
“Chromosome Connections: Compelling Clues to Common Ancestry” by ENSIweb Webmaster Larry Flammer. Here’s the abstract of that article:
Students compare banding patterns on hominid chromosomes, and see striking evidence of their common ancestry. To test this, the human #2 chromosome is matched with two shorter chimpanzee chromosomes, leading to the hypothesis that human chromosome #2 resulted from the fusion of the two shorter chromosomes. Students test that hypothesis by looking for (and finding) DNA evidence of telomere segments at the fusion site, reinforcing the likelihood of our common ancestry with chimps, and showing us that we all carry the “molecular fossils” of telomere fusion! Students see how multiple lines of evidence make a compelling case for common ancestry, and they experience an important element of inquiry: testing hypotheses.
28 November 2012
TWO NEW ITEMS ON BIAS
Alternative article to Women’s Brains: Confirmation Bias by Physicist Chris Lee (Go to Women’s Brains, scroll down to Extensions & Variations, then to Confirmation Bias in Science).
Here is an interesting (and perhaps easier-to-read) article describing two examples of confirmation bias. The article was written by a practicing scientist who points out the value of double-blind studies where judgment is involved in the results (as is common in many pseudoscience topics, where double-blind tests are not used, or used poorly). Discussion questions provided.
He also shares one of his own experiences with a new scientific idea, develops a theoretical model, and tests the model (tries to destroy the model). He then shares what happened when he presented the idea to his peers at a conference. In this context, the author points a key difference between science deniers and scientists.
Investigative Study (New Lesson): Therapeutic Touch: An Inquiry
Students perform a single-blind study that tests the “placebo effect” in friends and family. The placebo effect is a form of confirmation bias. Class discussions follow.
23 August 2012
The Growing Need for Solid Introduction to
Evolution and Medicine
in High School Biology
1. We see an increasing need (and clear benefit) for the understanding of evolution in medical training.
2. However, medical schools and pre-med programs are already crammed, little room for adding extensive evolution content.
3. Medicine is becoming an increasingly useful application for evolution, with a growing number of examples that you could use. Pre-college teachers should try to incorporate such examples into the biology/life science courses.
4. Using medicine as a major application of biology in general, and evolution in particular, can help to fill this educational gap.
5. Doing this fits closely with the growing focus on the use of STEMM (STEM+ Medicine) in pre-college science courses.
6. It turns out that medical applications of evolution provide an engaging and relevant approach to introducing and teaching evolution in high school biology, and even middle school life science.
7. For several excellent, tested, useful (and free) materials for bringing real evolution applications in medicine into your biological science classes, click here.
2 July 2012
An Engaging New Lesson on
“THE GUPPY GAME”
on the Neuron website.
New HHMI Holiday Lecture DVDs:
BONES, STONES & GENES
The Origin of Modern Humans
With Three Lessons is Back.
Lessons A & B are good to go.
Lesson C still needs some work, but...
A & B alone are still effective in
demonstrating strong DNA evidence
for Common Ancestry
27 November 2011
Evolution: Education & Outreach
Offering Free Access to its Articles in 15 Issues
This journal, with its many excellent articles on
evolution and the teaching of evolution, is kindly allowing
of any of the articles¬Ý (as PDF files) in their 15
from now until December 31, 2011.
Click Here for Details.
23 October 2011
AIDS: Using Evolution
to Solve a Medical Problem
Chimp to Man: The Path of AIDS
Opening paragraph: "Our story begins sometime close to 1921,
somewhere between the Sanaga River in Cameroon and the Congo
River in the former Belgian Congo. It involves chimps and monkeys,
hunters and butchers, “free women” and prostitutes,
syringes and plasma-sellers, evil colonial lawmakers and decent
colonial doctors with the best of intentions. And a virus that,
against all odds, appears to have made it from one ape in the
central African jungle to one Haitian bureaucrat leaving Zaire
for home and then to a few dozen men in California gay bars before
it was even noticed ,Äî about 60 years after its journey
began." Click Here to get
complete article and teaching tips.
20 September 2011
ANNOUNCEMENTS, UPCOMING EVENTS
1. Richard Dawkins Profile article in NY
Times, Science Section, Sept. 20. Interesting and
informative. Search NY Times online for article:
“A Knack for Bashing Orthodoxy.”
2. Jane Goodall live broadcast to a theater
near you, Sept. 27. See www.FathomEvents.com/jane
for list of theaters nationwide, and tickets.
3. Bio-Survey Opportunity for Harvard Study.
Contact Jaimie Miller firstname.lastname@example.org
before early October. Based on misconceptions, for
middle school, high school teachers and classes.
4. HHMI’s “Bones, Stones, and Genes: The
Origin of Modern Humans” watch
live Oct. 6 & 7. Go to the HHMI site at http://www.hhmi.org/biointeractive/
to register and see schedule.
5. AIBS/NESCent Evolution Symposium and Teaching Workshop
at the NABT conference in Anaheim, CA, October 14-15.
6. Bring Evolution to Your School/Community for Darwin
Day 2012. Apply to be a stop on NESCent’s
2012 Darwin Day Roadshow. See http://roadshow.nescent.org/
for details and registration (by October 31). Or
email Jory Weintraub at email@example.com
13 May 2011
ANNOUNCEMENTS (Click Here for Details)
Evolution Education Opportunities This
New Assessment Tool for Misconceptions
New Laetoli Trackway Files Avalible as
HD PDF files
Do-It-Yourself DNA Kit files revised
PowerPoint for Whale Evolution lessons
1 April 2011
REPORT for 2010 - FINALLY completed? Get an overview
of the ENSIweb changes over the past year - and check out our
HIT counter -
STICK: New commercial source for multiple Hooey
Sticks, along with teaching strategy and other teacher information
must be obtained with teacher request to webmaster using school email address.
DATA: There have been teacher requests for published
estimates (by professional paleoanthropologists) of the actual
footlengths and stature (height) of the people who made the Laetoli
tracks. Those data are now listed (from two sources), linked-to
from the Footsteps
in Time lesson, and include some suggested projects and
other actions for students to explore further. The companion
Relationships, has also been extensively improved (mostly
in its PDF handout).
PATTERNS in TIME: This article was published in
the February 2011 issue of Science Scope (NSTA
journal for middle school teachers). The article (by ENSI webmaster
Larry Flammer) presents an overview of the Patterns in Time lesson on the ENSI site.
20 March 2011
NEW: DIGITAL VERSION of the
LAETOLI TOPO TRACKWAY
Thanks to teacher suggestion, we now have a digital
version of the Laetoli Topo trackway. Many teachers over
the past several years have used the full scale enlargement of
this trackway to give their students the exciting opportunity
to walk in the 3.6 million-year-old footsteps of "Lucy"
(Australopithicus afarensis) - and make a number of discoveries
by analyzing those tracks (see our Footsteps in Time and
the Laetoli Trackway Puzzle lessons). Now, you can just
download the very sharp 300 dpi trackway and have it printed
out directly in full scale (5X enlargement) at any print shop.
Click on title above to see how to get the NEW DIGITAL TRACKWAY.
Laetoli Trackway: a Teaching Tool
in South Africa
Dr. Terry Hutter in the CESLA outreach project.
Dr. Hutter works in Subsaharan Africa, largely through the CESLA
project that he helped establish, to bring hands-on education
to a wide range of people over much of South Africa, living especially
in rural areas. He has used the Laetoli Topo Trackway
as part of his African Origins presentations, to groups
from elementary through secondary, tertiary and adult groups,
to rural indigenous poor groups throughout South Africa, and
to private schools there. Dr. Hutter has kindly sent us some
of the pictures he's taken of students using the trackway. Some
of them are posted here, which you could use as PPT slides in
your presentations.Click on title to see pictures.
8 February 2011
New Pre-Test Tool
1. Conceptual Inventory of Natural Selection - the "CINS"
- a 20-item tool analyzed for reliability to measure accurate
understanding about natural selection
2. Modeling Natural Selection - Using model-based inquiry
and wikis to learn about evolution
Still Another Effective Strategy
for Repairing NS Misconceptions
and links from
ENSI Co-Director, Craig E. Nelson
7 January 2011
WELCOME TO 2011 and the 14th year of ENSIweb
Recent Advances and Research in
from the NESCent/AIBS Evolution Symposium at the
November 2010 NABT Conference in Minneapolis
Videos of illustrated talks from
four leading researchers are now available.
Get a better understanding of "genotype-phenotype"
Explore a number of common misconceptions
about evolutionary concepts;
Free teaching resources, activities, papers and short videos.
Also, see the excellent article on
"Dinosaurs' Living Descendents"
December 2010 issue of the Smithsonian magazine.
Recent discoveries, mostly of feathered dinosaurs in China,
have virtually clinched the dinosaur ancestry connection to today's
See Smithsonian.com site for the article
with excellent illustrations,
including an interactive version
of the Bird/Dinosaur Family Tree
shown in the article.
26 September 2010
Additions in Classification
1. Sample Unit for Classification
and Diversity of Life,
with materials ready to use
2. Added to Phylogenies & Tree-Thinking:
a. David Baums's evolutionary tree QUIZ for pre-post testing
b. Baum's excellent figures for teaching Tree-Thinking - in PowerPoint
c, Access to Peabody Museum materials on Tree-Thinking
d. Access to articles in NSTA and NABT journals - for
e. Using "cartoon" figures to expose misconceptions
about family trees and evolution
17 September 2010
TWO EVOLUTION ENHANCEMENTS:
Using RING SPECIES Demonstration
for Compelling Connection between
Microevolution and Macroevolution
How Do Chromosome Changes
to Produce New Species?
17 August 2010
We have a variety
of upgrades; Most Notably:
New INQUIRY segment for analyzing pattern
New Pre/Post Quiz
New Accumulation of Traits diagram
MAGIC HOOEY STICK:
New Revised Handout
All keys and explanation removed...
(so unavailable to students)
contact webmaster on school email for info
19 March 2010
TOOLS for TEACHING
EVOLUTION & NATURE of SCIENCE:
Your Inner Fish - PowerPoint Slides
Update for Ensatina Studies (Step in Speciation)
Short Videos Explaining Evolution
Human Evolution Mosaic - Interactive
Ten Myths About Darwin
Comments on Evolution Articles in ABT Feb. 2010
16 February 2010
Major Revision of
with easier-to-use "TimeScaleMarkers,"
Student Handout with Info & Directions,
Key to Chronology of Fossil Vertebrates
Updated PDF of the Entire Lesson -
(with Standards met in this lesson)
4 February 2010
Don't Miss this month's issue of
The American Biology
Devoted entirely to articles on Teaching Evolution
for list of articles and commentary
ALSO - Don't Miss "Creation"
the Book and Film about Darwin's Life
The film is currently playing in more theaters
check local listings
See Review and
3 January 2010
A 20-YEAR ENSI RETROSPECT
A brief overview of ENSI's beginnings...
its transition to ENSIWEB...
and ENSIWEB's track record.
ADDITION to Patterns In
See the Overview PowerPoint
along with ideas for its use in the lesson itself