Here are some items that provide great STEM "hooks": using genetics and cumulative natural selection to explore their practical applications in engineering and technology: Click Here for PDF copy of this page.

A. The War of the Weasels - Or "How an Intelligent Design Theorist was Bested in a Public Math Competition by a Genetic Algorithm!"
This article clearly demonstrates (using math and genetic algorithms) the power and effectiveness of cumulative natural selection. By Dave Thomas in the Skeptical Inquirer (vol. 34.3, May/June 2010).
The original print article (highly recommended) discusses the use of a Genetic Algorithm (GA) to solve tricky math problems and demonstrates that no specific "target" is required for such algorithms, contrary to the attacks by creationists on the "METHINKS IT IS LIKE A WEASEL" simulation discussed in Richard Dawkins' 1986 book The Blind Watchmaker. The problem developed for the GA is called Steiner's Problem: (finding the shortest straight-line segment networks connecting an array of given fixed points). This problem provides a miniature digital playground on the very edge of complexity.

B. War of the Weasels Expanded, by the same author. This article, in the Panda's Thumb blog, expands on the original article in the Skeptical Inquirer (see above).

C. Fifteen Real-World Uses of Genetic Algorithms and Natural Selection, with detailed accounts of each of the following:

  1. Automotive Design
  2. Engineering Design
  3. Robotics
  4. Evolvable Hardware
  5. Optimized Telecommunications Routing
  6. Joke and Pun Generation
  7. Biomimetic Invention
  8. Trip, Traffic and Shipment Routing
  9. Computer Gaming
  10. Encryption and Code Breaking
  11. Computer-Aided Molecular Design
  12. Gene Expression Profilig
  13. Optimizing Chemical Kinetic Analysis
  14. Finance and Investment Strategies
  15. Marketing and Merchandising

    D. NSI (Natural Selection, Inc.)
    Evolutionary computation, one of the fastest growing areas of computer science, involves simulating the essential processes of Darwinian evolution on a computer in order to optimize solutions to a particular problem.

    Defense and Homeland Security
    Industrial Optimization
    "Our Company: Natural Selection, Inc. was created in 1993 to bring the cutting edge of high technology to bear on real-world problems in industry, medicine, and defense. With the ever-increasing speed of computers, we are able to apply sophisticated, nature-inspired, computational intelligence algorithms to many of these problems without requiring expensive supercomputing. Our pioneering personnel have solved some of the most challenging problems, ranging from drug design and medical diagnoses to adaptive scheduling and screening products coming into the United States of America for safety and security. Our staff has been recognized with technical field awards from the IEEE, the world's largest organization of professional engineers, as well as other distinguished scientific organizations, such as Sigma Xi. Natural Selection, Inc. is the recognized leader in the application of bio-inspired solutions to complex problems.
    © 2003-2013 Natural Selection, Inc.® All rights reserved. Natural Selection, Inc.® and Valuated State Space® are registered trademarks of Natural Selection, Inc."

E. Here's more about STEM Education online.

F. Evolution Inspires More Efficient Solar Cell Design: Geometric Pattern Maximizes Time Light Is Trapped(Januaray, 2013).

G. Other ENSI lessons that are STEM-Ready, NGSS-Compliant, and Satisfy Common Core Standards.