Evolution Is a Model, Why Not Teach It That Way?
This chapter describes the author’s Evolution Readiness project1and the teaching materials it has produced. These materials present themselves to students as engaging video games built on a manipulable model that embodies natural selectionas an explanatory mechanismfor the adaptations of organisms to their environments. The games offer challenges that guide students’ progress from reasoning about individuals to exploring the behavior of populations of organisms over many generations. One goal of this work is to create the technological base required to support an approach to biology education based on natural selection. The teleological aspect of biology—the fact that organisms appear to be designed for particular purposes—is not treated very well in the traditional US K-12 curriculum which mostly deals with data (what do we see when we observe the living world?) rather than process (how did it get that way?). This is hardly surprising, given that the processes responsible for adaptation are slow acting, indirect, and difficult to observe. We describe the design principles behind the creation of interactive learning activitiesthat can overcome these problems and, in symbiosis with textbooks, laboratory experiments, and field observations, help students to hone their biological reasoning skills.
KeywordsLight Level Pedagogical Content Knowledge Rabbit Population Traditional Curriculum Laboratory Notebook
The research described in this chapter was supported by grant number 0822213 from the United States National Science Foundation. I am deeply grateful to his colleagues, Carolyn Staudt, Cynthia McIntyre, and Trudi Lord, of Concord Consortium, and Laura O’Dwyer and Camelia Rosca, of Boston College, for their contributions to the project itself and for numerous insightful conversations on this and many other topics.
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