For February 2010
Don't miss the February, 2010 issue of The American Biology
Teacher, dedicated to topics in teaching evolution.
Here are the article titles - to whet your appetite:
Were Australopithecines Ape-Human Intermediates
or Just Apes? A Test of Both Hypotheses Using the "Lucy"
Skeleton (available online) by Phil Senter
This article is avilable directly online
(by clicking its title here). Illustrations of chimp, modern
human and "Lucy" skeletal components are used to compare
point-by-point differences and similarites. This could be a useful
extension (or replacement) for the ENSI lesson on Cranial Comparisons.
Charles Darwin's Botanical Investigations by Suzanne
Following Darwin's publication of "On
the Origin of Species," he published several studies of
plants, focusing on pollination, flower morphology, plant growth
and movements, and carnivorous plants. It is interesting how
his observations and interpretations were informed by his application
of natural selection, to plant morphology and physiology, where
will and consciousness are not involved. Sharing these studies
with students does much to show the diversity of Darwin's work,
along with his publications on biogeography, geology, his monographs
on barnacles, and the evolution of human behavior.
Darwin's "Imaginary Illustrations": Creatively
Teaching Evolutionary concepts & the Nature of Science
by Alan C. Love
How Darwin used his "thought experiments"
to clarify how natural selection is competent to produce adaptive
evolutionary change. The author shows how this strategy can be
useful for teaching the elements of natural selection today.
Education's Missing Link: How Private School Teachers
Approach Evolution by Michael W. Schulteis
Florida Teachers' Attitudes about Teaching Evolution by
Samantha r. Fowler & Gerry G. Meisels
PopGen Fishbowl: A Free Online Simulation Model of Microevolutionary
Processes by Thomas C. Jones & Thomas F. Laughlin
This article shares a freely available
online interactive simulation of natural selection, where students
can change several factors, one at a time, to test the predicted
effect of each one on population size and changes in gene frequency.
Makes a quick-and-easy investigative study. Suggestions for classroom
use are included. You can take a look at the online simulation
by clicking HERE and then
clicking there on "Population Genetics." For
directions, click there on "More Information."
Clicking on PopGen Fishbowl will take you directly to
the online simulation.
The Power Of Natural Selection: A Guided Investigation
of Three Case Studies by William Beachly
A Lesson on Evolution & Natural Selection by Anthony
This article describes three separate activites
to illustrate elements of natural selection. Each is clever and
provides sample student instructions along with teacher notes.
Included are elements of extinction, and the role of major climate
changes in the 5 known great extinctions, with a focus on the
current evidence for a 6th great extinction accompanying our
current climate change - nice opportunity to address natural
selection in the context of a current climate event being experienced
Evolution & Phylogenetic Analysis: Classroom Activities
for Investigating Molecular & Morphological Concepts
by Wilfred A. Franklin
This article provides a flexible collection
of multiple independent lines of evidence all pointing to evolution
and the resulting phylogenetic connections linking different
grops of organisms. Materials that can be used (depending on
availability and time) include the forelimb bones of various
vertebrates, hominid and other primate skulls, miscellaneous
vertebrate skeletons, and freely available internet tools (with
directions for use) for comparing proteins and DNA, and producing
phylogenies based on those analyses. Here are the several websites
utilized by the activities presented in this article:
Wisconsin Fast Plants for Evolution Experiments
HHMI/Bryn Mawr Outreach Project - HS Labs on Phylogeny, Molecular
Genetics, Forensic Biology/DNA Fingerprinting, etc.
Website - for analyzing DNA and polypeptide
Activity - for studying the gene and protein associated with
Cn3D - NCBI online program for visualizing
3D molecular structures
Protein Database and Tools for Visualizing
Protein Crystal Structure (Appendix A)
(U of Texas at Austin) - for comparing human and other primate
From the Beginning (Biology Today column by Maura Flannery)
Excellent overview of the status of research
on the early Earth, along with the origin(s) and early life on
Earth. Delightfully presented as an example of the ongoing changes
in our limited understanding about life's beginnings and the
many unanswered questions that prevail - yet there IS progress!
QuickFix: Experience Millions of Years by Larry Flammer
Guest Editorial: Where Is the "Origin" in
The Origin of Species? by William F. McComas
From the President: Do You Believe in Evolution?
by Bunny Jaskot
article: Experience Millions of Years offers
a novel way to help students gain a realistic sense of deep time,
relative to their own years of existence, then focuses on the
times when major groups of vertebrates first emerged, many tens
of millions of years apart. What might be lost is the realization
that there were NO hominids of any kind prior to about 7 mya,
NO modern-type whales prior to about 25 mya, NO birds prior to
about 150 mya, NO mammals prior to about 220 mya, NO reptiles
prior to about 310 mya, NO pre-mammals prior to about 320 mya,
NO amphibians prior to about 365 mya, NO jawed fishes prior to
about 440 mya, and NO jawless fishes prior to about 500 mya.
Even upper elementary kids should be made aware of these patterns
of vertebrate emergence, staggered over a few hundreds of millions
of years, and the total lack of fossils for those groups prior
to those times of origin.
Furthermore, students should be informed that the traits for
each group are clearly modifications of traits found in their
predecessors, and that there are many excellent examples of transitional
fossils, showing a mosaic of gradual changes documenting the
pre-emergence of each group. These direct observations of clear
evidence of sequential emergence and descent with modification,
should establish the reality of evolution as early as possible,
so middle school and high school teachers can introduce the abundant
molecular evidence that confirms evolution, and concentrate on
the genetic mechanisms of change, and not have to spend precious
time trying to convince students of the reality of evolution.
All the materials to do this, plus an informative PowerPoint,
are available in the Patterns in Time lesson on the ENSI