4. Posted my review of Shubin's Your Inner Fish, along with link to
slides to use with that book.
What We Did in 2010
1. Created and added a PPT
presentation for our Patterns in Time lesson, along with
pre/post quiz for PiT. Added Inquiry segment for analyzing pattern,
and a new Accumulation of Traits diagram.
2. Corrected and updated a number of lessons - mostly minor
issues, but always trying to make the site as accurate, up-to-date
and easy to use as I can. Several items were pointed out by ENSI-using
3. Added improved Darwin's
phylogenetic tree (suitable for projection); typos corrected,
5. Posted my review of The Bible, Rocks and Time by geologists
Young & Stearley (that points out the many major inconsistencies
between evidence that the biblical accounts would have produced,
and what geologists actually see).
6. Added link to the Population Genetics Fishbowl
online-interactive tutorial using Hardy-Weinberg principle.
This was accompanied by a few other ways to teach Hardy-Weinberg.
(See the Quick
7. Added access to John Banister-Marx's video showing how to
make a Magic Hooey
8. Added Molecular
Clues to Evolution page with article reviews from an
evolution-rich issue of the NSTA's The Science Teacher
of November, 2003, with and links to related lessons.
9. Added Additional Teaching Suggestions page for using
our lessons to teach the
What IS the Nature of
of Science - Presenting These Lessons for Maximum Effect
10. Added revised Evolution
Survey pre-test, added key with brief explanations for
why each answer is as it is. This survey has become very popular
- more and more teachers are teaching evolution earlier, and
pre-testing their students to let them know what their misconceptions
are. I know this because teachers need to request the key/explanations
from me directly (it's not on the website - too many students
were finding the keys, so we are removing some from the site
- accessible only by emailing the webmaster). I've been getting
several request for the Evo Survey key ever since.
11. Added Quick
Speciation activity - a quick and easy simulation activity
to do where students vividly experience how speciation happens.
12. Added my review of Massimo Pigliucci's Nonsense on Stilts (2010)
at Science teachers are charged with helping kids to think critically,
be objective, and be skeptical of tempting ideas. Unfortunately,
science textbooks are not very helpful for doing this. It won't
happen magically by reciting or even practicing "The Scientific
Method." So what are we to do? This book does provide some
helpful insights and suggestions. One of the author's purposes
is to help citizens become better able to make informed decisions
about complex issues involving scientific claims. "We have
a moral duty to distinguish sense from nonsense," he writes.
This book comes pretty close to being that handy, readable treatment
of how to distinguish pseudoscience and non-science from near-science
and "established" science. The author discusses
how to use one of several "Baloney Detectors" to help
teach critical thinking. He also offers a useful "brief
history of science." In short, lots of helpful ideas to
use in the classroom.
13. Added my review of Lewis Held's Quirks of Human Anatomy - An Evo-Devo
Look at Human Anatomy (2009). This is the only book I have ever
read that features many more questions than it answers! For anyone
who thinks that science has solved nearly all the great problems,
or the college student looking for challenging questions to research
- this is the book to read. Likewise, for anyone who believes
that we are the perfected product of an intelligent designer
- this will set you straight. For example, the author samples
about 30 of the many "quirks," flaws and other examples
of terrible engineering in our anatomy. Some are stupid, some
are silly, and many are actually dangerous or disabling. These
"make-do" contrivances that make up our bodies are
clearly the result of opportunistic tinkering, changing the functions
of existing structures (preadaptations, or exaptations). Here
I link to our lesson: Blocks & Screws - Contrivances.
The author does, however nicely explain the answers we do have
to some of those questions, mostly from the evo-devo field.
14. Added announcement "DinoFeathers": (with photos and
diagrams) article about compelling evidence for the emergence
of feathers in middle Jurassic dinosaurs.
15. Added "Phantom
Tube" to the Magic Hooey Stick lesson. This
device (from Flinn's Chem Fax) is similar to the one pictured
and described in Teaching About Evolution and the Nature of
Science (NAS, 1998), but this one works, and a clever
strategy is provided for effectively using it.
16. Added article by Joe Walsh about the interactive activity
to demonstrate Ring
Species and how they illustrate speciation, relating
ring species (speciation in space) to phylogenies
(speciation in time).
17. Added Chromosomal
Speciation: discussion of how chromosomal changes get
passed on to future generations. Much of this with ENSI Co-Director
Craig E. Nelson's imput.
18. Added review of the ABT
issue for February - devoted to several excellent articles
19. Added "Useful
Tools and Information for Teaching Evolution & the Nature
20. Added review of Phylogenies
& Tree Thinking by Baum and Offner (ABT, 2008).
21. Added a sample Classification
Unit that effectively links the topic to evolution.
Activity on ENSIweb (number of times its home page was accessed)
continued the fluctuations in the final months of 2009 and throughout
2010 of around 3,000 hits per month, but then, for some reason
(peaking ahead to March of 2011), we registered an unbelievable
nearly 14,000 hits for February (13,936)! Was it a glitch somewhere?
Or did we actually get that many hits? I have noticed a considerable
increase in requests for the key and discussion points for our
Evolution Survey, so, perhaps more teachers are introducing
evolution earlier in the year, and/or more teachers are recognizing
the value of assessing their students on this topic before going
into it. Let's see what upcoming months will show us.
1. Laetoli Trackway being used to teach Africans about
their ancestry. In September of 2010, I received a request from
Prof. Terry Hutter for another copy of our 2x version of the
Topo Trackway from Laetoli. He explained that he has used the
trackway for several years in his hands-on presentations of African
origins to a wide range of people over much of South Africa,
living especially in rural areas. These groups range 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 me some of the pictures he's taken
of students using the trackway, and they will be posted soon
on the ENSI site for interested teachers to show their classes.
2. New Digital Trackway: An ENSI-using teacher asked
me recently if we had a digital version of our Topo Trackway.
We didn't but I wondered why we couldn't. So I took my best copy
of the originally published trackway and took it to the FedEx
shop (formerly Kinko's) where they scanned it into a 600 dpi
file for me. Later, I reduced the size to 300 dpi (just about
as sharp as the 600 dpi file is, but much more transportable).
I also cropped off a couple of pairs of prints from one end,
and another pair from the other. I moved the caption and scale
closer to the tracks, and ended up with a beautiful digital trackway
that's only 2.3 MB, so it's easily attached to email responses
to future requests for the trackway. Teachers can just take the
file (in a memory stick) to their copy facility and get an excellent
5x version (full scale) directly, at much less cost. I also will
also send a file that prints out a 10 inch version that can be
inserted directly into a PPT presentation.
3. Bacteria lab for natural selection - analyzing the evidence.
When a pure strain of bacteria is plated out around an antibiotic
disc, a clear area of no-growth may appear around the disc. Then,
in that area, a few isolated colonies may appear. Overlays will
be used to explain what happens, so teachers can walk their students
through this inquiry. Best if students can actually do the wet
lab, but not necessary for understanding what it shows, and enables
students to see natural selection happening in real time.
Many other potential projects are in the hopper for 2011.
Now if I can just find a way to clone myself, maybe I can get
them all done!
APPEAL FOR NEW, CREATIVE, TESTED
AND EFFECTIVE ENSI LESSONS:
If you develop a new interactive lesson for teaching
key elements of the nature of science and evolution
(as reflected in current ENSI lessons), a lesson that is novel,
engaging, effective and you think would work for other teachers,
please share by telling us about it. Contact the webmaster at
email@example.com . If our directors agree that it would be
appropriate to add to the ENSI collection, with credit to you
as author, we will work out the details together, and post it
on the site. We are also interested in effective uses of interactive
demos, classroom activities, PowerPoint presentations, TV programs
and the application of articles for classroom use, perhaps with
viewing or reading guides to focus, clarify and structure accurate
understanding of key concepts.
I Wish you all a most productive, successful and healthy 2011
CLICK HERE FOR A PDF PRINTABLE COPY OF THIS ANNUAL REPORT