Annual Reports
  The People
 The Lessons - Gen. Info.

 ENSIweb Archives
 RESOURCES: Books and Links
 Papers and Articles
  Talk to us...
 Site Map
& Guided Tour




 JOIN OUR LISTSERVE: Would you like to join our FENSI (Friends of ENSI) listserve? You would receive news and announcements about ENSI topics from time to time (usually monthly), including notices of new material added to our website. It is restricted to educators using our materials, and your email address will not be exposed. You may unsubscribe at any time; just let me know. Send request, including your name, school, state/country and email address to the WEBMASTER

Flammer, L., J. Beard, C.E. Nelson, & M. Nickels. 1998. ENSIWEB. Evolution/Nature of Science Institutes. Retrieved [current date] from
[Please, also cite the author(s), date(s) and title(s) of any specific lesson(s) cited.]

   Search this site      powered by FreeFind


Gateway to quality evaluated internet resources 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.


- Eisenhower
--- National
----- Clearinghouse
US Dept of Education

Award of

Check out how to freely link to a complete version of any Britannica article, even ones that require a subscription. Visit our Webmasters and Bloggers Page for more details.

For Keyword Searches, Use This GEM Site Search Engine:
 gem Memeber of
ERIC Clearinghouse:
- Gateway to
--- Educational
----- Materials
Universal Search
Engine for Teachers
US Dept of Education

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 the nation.

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 people.

NSF Logo

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.


12 January 2017


1. Exciting new alternative to our Skulls Lab: developed and tested by two talented biology teachers in New Orleans, inviting teachers and students to "Be a Paleontologist for a Day."
2. The ENSI Chronology Lab completely updated: where students plot the fossil discoveries of our hominin history, with new instructions, new data tables, and a new chronology chart to plot.
3. Dinosaur Evolution: (nowhere near human evolution!) If you plan to be in the SF Bay Area March 4th, plan to attend the UCMP Short Course at UC Berkeley: New look at old bones, new insights on dinosaur growth, development and diversity. See details here.

6 January 2017

ADDITIONS TO Footsteps in Time (Laetoli):
9. HHMI BioInteractive activity (based on our topo trackway): "Human Feet Are Strange"
10. BREAKING NEWS: New Footprints from Laetoli
11. DEEPER CHALLENGE: was there a fourth individual???

19 November 2016

Astrology Update: An excellent and convenient resource on astrology can be found on the Center for Inquiry (CSI) website.
The article "Does Astrology Need  to Be True? A Thirty Year Update" by Geoffrey Dean appeared in the July/August 2016 issue of the Skeptical Inquirer magazine, pp. 38-45. This article would be most helpful if you help your students to deal with pseudosciences, e.g., astrology and homeopathy (discussed in the student e-text
Science Surprises: Exploring the Nature of Science
- the 4th dimension of NGSS).

Science Denial: In that same issue (and also available on the CSI website) is the article "A Skeptical Response to Science Denial" by John Cook. The author points out "Science denial has significant consequences. AIDS denial caused over 300,000 deaths in South Africa. Vaccination denial has allowed preventable diseases to make a comeback. Climate science denial helped delay sorely needed mitigation policies, committing us to direr climate impacts for decades to come." (Emphasis added). Reading this article would be most helpful as you encounter students who deny evolution, climate change, and vaccinations. See our e-text Science Surprises: Exploring the Nature of Science for more information on dealing with science denial.

23 July 2016
This is a growing field,
becoming a part of the training for
medical professionals across the country.
Click HERE for more information on
evolutionary medicine.
Then, make some room in your evolution unit
for including lessons on human evolution
You owe it to any prospective doctors, nurses
and other public health providers in your classes.
You also owe it to all of your students,
as prospective patients.
Note: the NGSS include important basic standards
for evolution.
But there is nothing about human evolution.
However, nothing prevents using human evolution
to meet those standards.

27 May 2016

Teaching Evolution

EVO Teacher Guide: Ten Questions Everyone Should Ask About Evolution: With DVD/Video of 10 video segments (~11' each). 2012 (added 2016). Gold Medal Film, highly rated by NABT, available from NSTA.

Evolution as Fact AND Theory: Discussion of why evolution can be presented as both fact (reality) AND theory. Spin-off from EVO Teacher Guide.

Evidence of Evolution: Links to the many examples of evolution.


Evo 101 Workshop for Science Educators
Friday June 17th, 2016        Austin, Texas
8:30am - 4 pm           Austin Convention Center
Morning Session: The Secret Life of Dinosaurs and the Origin of Birds
Afternoon Session:
Declawing the Dinosaurs: Lowering Teacher Anxiety about Evolution in the Science Classroom
Evening Session: Carl Zimmer: The Surviving Branch: How Genomes Are Revealing The Twisted Course of Human Evolution


21 April 2016
Gold Medal Film on Evolution
The National Center for Science Education and Hummingbird Films has a special offer for teachers at Title 1 middle and high schools - a free copy of the DVD EVO. This film takes you through the top 10 questions everyone should ask about evolution.  The American Biology Teacher magazine called Evo a "must-have...a picture book of evolution, crammed with remarkable images and well-known narrators."

What else will you receive?

When you sign up to receive the Evo DVD, you'll be signed up for NCSEteach, the teacher network of the National Center for Science Education, a nonprofit organization devoted to defending the integrity of science education. NCSEteach members gain access to scientists for their classrooms, vetted materials and professional development opportunities. Supplies of the DVDs are limited, so it is first-come first-serve, but membership in NCSEteach is not limited! This is a non-transferable offer, although if you want to recommend a science teacher colleague at your school, please send his/her name and e-mail address to us. Sign up now!

Ed. Note:
And, a Teachers Guide for this video is
available from NSTA for $15.95

10 April 2016

UCMP University of California
Museum of Paleontology

A Summer Institute for Science Educators
July 25-29, 2016
Save the Date & Register Early

More information and registration

Calling all middle school, high school,
and community college biology teachers
and science educators!

Put on your evolution eyeglasses
and your nature of science thinking cap
and join us for (yet another) fun-filled five days
of evolutionary explorations
with biologists and educators
at the University of California at Berkeley

UCMP Evo Institute

5 April 2016
PG Opportunity at UC Riverside:
"Developing Inquiry-Based Lesson Plans
for High School Evolutionary Biology"

11-15 July 2016
Monday-Friday, 9-12:30 and 1:30-5:00
University of California, Riverside

31 March 2016
TIES logo Special Call for Science Teachers
Who Are Passionate About Teaching Evolution
TIES is looking for teacher leaders
who might be interested in
presenting an evolution workshop
in their school district or local college
for middle school science teachers.
Materials & stipends provided.

 Find out more

What is TIES?

29 January 2016
Including two 31 December Announcements there:
HHMI-BioInteractive's New Lesson:
The Smithsonian's Traveling

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 (jory@duke.edu)

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.

Share recent discovery of early human fossils by Dr. Lee Berger, and witnessed by Dallas middle school teacher John Mead. Great time for your students to do the ENSI Skulls Lab.

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


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

21 January 2015
Greatly updated version of
Science Surprises
is now available online.

ENSI Annual Report for 2014
is also available.
Take a look at
ENSI Progress over the past year.

3 December 2014
NSTA-Sponsored Podcast:
About the Science Surprises e-text for students
Using ENSI Nature of Science Lessons

Also... New Bio-Science Resource Site Added:

20 October 2014

Exceptional Online Resources
for Teaching Evolution and NOS
Selected Summaries and Links from the
Life Discovery Conference 2014

HHMI BioInteractive:
            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
            Design Competition
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
Human Evolution
Special Issue of
Scientific American

September 2014

Our Skulls Lab hasn't been updated for about 15 years.
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: