Origami Bird Study: An Extension into its
A recent study in Japan has added a DNA connection to Karin Westerling's Origami Bird lesson. In doing so, this has integrated an important (but simplified) molecular aspect to the process of natural selection, and this, in turn, has improved student understanding about mistaken Lamarckian (directional and teleological) aspects, and the randomness of mutations. Their general understanding of natural selection was significantly improved as well. Furthermore, this extension helps to satisfy a few of the NGSS Performance Expectations for middle and high school natural selection (see this following these excerpts from the study by Yamanoi, et al):
TO TEACHERS: The instructions, templates and handout materials for this Japanese version of Origami Birds are being developed. They will be posted as the Origami Bird DNA Extension when they are ready. So far, all the forms used in the study have been modified and are ready for use (ready for download, see below). Only the Teacher Directions and Student Instructions / worksheet need more work. One teacher, Nathan Hoekstra, has developed a sample student handout worksheet which he has kindly made available and is also available below (along with his suggestions and experience, added to OBE.Details from Dr. Yamanoi).
If you use these materials and develop your own student handout / worksheet, please share with the ENSI webmaster, along with notes of your experience and suggestions for improvement, so they can be included in the final lesson to be posted on the ENSI site. Thank you for that.
LIST OF FILES FOR THE DNA EXTENSION OF ORIGAMI BIRD
STUDY by T. Yamanoi, et al:
Introduction (excerpts, with emphases added):
“The “origami bird (Avis papyrus),” invented by Westerling (Westerling 1992), is designed to teach the concept of evolution by natural selection. In our study, we altered the “origami bird” protocol by incorporating a molecular mechanism. We verified the effectiveness of this improved protocol for Japanese high school students by comparing their test scores before and after the experiment.”
Discussion (emphases added):
“Similar to my previous results with Westerling’s original protocol, the students improved their understanding about the timescale of evolution (“Definition of evolution” #9) and the non-inevitability of struggle in the process of natural selection (“Natural selection” #1and#2). Furthermore, they improved their understanding of mutation and rejected the notion of Lamarckism and orthogenesis. These improvements and rejections had not occurred in my previous research (Yamanoi 2010). So we conclude that our modifications of the original protocol in this study led to these improved understandings. Through the experiment and the following discussion, the students probably came to regard mutation correctly as random DNA alteration, not speciation, and then understood evolution by linking changes on the DNA level to those on the phenotype level and rejected teleological concepts. We also suggest that this improved protocol has the potential to be effective for not only Japanese high school students but also high school and undergraduate students in other countries because many previous studies have revealed that these students also hold outdated evolutionary concepts similar to Lamarckism and orthogenesis (Bardapurkar 2008). As is known, teaching materials effective for rejection of teleology are scarce in other countries as well, and hence our research may be an important first step toward filling that gap. “
“Our improvement of Westerling’s original protocol yielded significant elevation of the students’ understanding of evolution, but the change was slight (average score shift was 0.67 to 0.74). Therefore, we considered further modification of our protocol as follows. The students were divided into two groups with relation to the direction of natural selection. In one group, a bird with the longest flying distance was selected. In the others, a bird with the shortest flying distance was selected. We preliminarily conducted student experiments with this new protocol, with two birds’ populations showing different evolutionary trajectories over four generations. This modification is considered to enhance understanding of the variability in the direction of natural selection: selection does not always favor the long flight, which will lead to the rejection of teleological thoughts. We expect that further verifications and improvement of our protocol will be performed in many countries.”
NGSS Performance Expectations <http://www.nextgenscience.org/search-standards>: