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The Missing Link in Evolution Education: How Inquiry and NGSS Engage Resistant Students

Why we need a new approach to teaching evolution, something different than either "check-your-faith-at-the-door" or avoiding the topic all together.

Lee Meadows

on 6 November 2014

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Transcript of The Missing Link in Evolution Education: How Inquiry and NGSS Engage Resistant Students

My Story
natural Explanations
understanding, Not Believing, evolution
civil discourse
Science is







"Son, people who ask questions like that
end up in Hell."
"This is a science class. We don't talk
about those questions in here."
Why should they agree?
Missing Link published
Teaching chemistry & physics
Becoming Presbyterian
Seeing Lucy
Creation vs.
Scientific Materialism
Creation Science
Intelligent Design
Supernatural Explanations
Explaining evidence collected from the natural world using natural processes.
Science cannot discount the supernatural, though some scientists do. Science remains neutral.
Whose science?
Who gets excluded next?
Ph.D. in Science Education
Oak Mountain Church (PCA)
Simply understanding the evidence for evolution and how scientists explain it within the limits of natural processes will be impossible for some religious people. Others will be able to engage only on certain topics.
"Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution."
--Theodosius Dobzhansky
The evidence is piling up
"Virtually complete skeleton of Dorudon atrox excavated in Wadi Hitan, Egypt. Note the retention of hind limbs, feet, and toes like those found in Basilosaurus. This find is described in Uhen (1996, 2004). The skeleton is approximately 5 m long. Photograph ©1998 Philip Gingerich."
For billions, religion is a beautiful, essential, and enriching part of being human.
Limit #1
Limit #2
Getting focused about entering the battle for children's hearts & minds
3rd Alternative Thinking
Engaging in public dialog
"Be Kind. For everyone you meet is involved in a great struggle."
Evidence & Explanation
Management vs. Resolution
Religious Beliefs Are Good
Inquiry-Based Science Teaching
Does understanding require belief?
Tell a teacher?
supernatural experiences
The hallmark of inquiry is learners explaining evidence. Evidence collected by others is often appropriate. With evolution, it's essential!
"The continuing operation of natural selection on new characteristics and in changing environments, over and over again for millions of years, has produced a succession of diverse new species." Atlas of Science Literacy 5F/H10
"Evolution builds on what already exists...but evolution does not necessitate long-term progress in some set direction." Atlas of Science Literacy 5F/H9
"Molecular evidence substantiates the anatomical evidence for evolution and provides additional detail about the sequence in which various lines of descent branched off from one another." Atlas of Science Literacy 5F/H2
"[Offspring of advantaged individuals] are more likely than others to survive and reproduce. The proportion of individuals that have advantageous characteristics will increase." Atlas of Science Literacy 5F/H3
Understanding #1
Understanding #2
Understanding #3
Healing the conflict
a grand inquiry
Inquiry and the Nature of Science
I am attacking God, all gods, anything and everything supernatutural, whever and whenever they have been or will be invented" (p. 57).
"The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all of fiction" (p. 51).
HS-LS4-1 Communicate scientific information that common ancestry and biological evolution are supported by multiple lines of empirical evidence.
[Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on a conceptual understanding of the role each line of evidence has relating to common ancestry and biological evolution. Examples of evidence could include similarities in DNA sequences, anatomical structures, and order of appearance of structures in embryological development.]
HS-LS4-2 Construct an explanation based on evidence that the process of evolution primarily results from four factors: (1) the potential for a species to increase in number, (2) the heritable genetic variation of individuals in a species due to mutation and sexual reproduction, (3) competition for limited resources, and (4) the proliferation of those organisms that are better able to survive and reproduce in the environment.
[Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on using evidence to explain the influence each of the four factors has on number of organisms, behaviors, morphology, or physiology in terms of ability to compete for limited resources and subsequent survival of individuals and adaptation of species. Examples of evidence could include mathematical models such as simple distribution graphs and proportional reasoning.] [Assessment Boundary: Assessment does not include other mechanisms of evolution, such as genetic drift, gene flow through migration, and co-evolution.]
HS-LS4-3 Apply concepts of statistics and probability to support explanations that organisms with an advantageous heritable trait tend to increase in proportion to organisms lacking this trait.
[Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on analyzing shifts in numerical distribution of traits and using these shifts as evidence to support explanations.] [Assessment Boundary: Assessment is limited to basic statistical and graphical analysis. Assessment does not include allele frequency calculations.]
HS-LS4-4 Construct an explanation based on evidence for how natural selection leads to adaptation of populations.
[Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on using data to provide evidence for how specific biotic and abiotic differences in ecosystems (such as ranges of seasonal temperature, long-term climate change, acidity, light, geographic barriers, or evolution of other organisms) contribute to a change in gene frequency over time, leading to adaptation of populations.]
HS-LS4-5 Evaluate the evidence supporting claims that changes in environmental conditions may result in: (1) increases in the number of individuals of some species, (2) the emergence of new species over time, and (3) the extinction of other species.
[Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on determining cause and effect relationships for how changes to the environment such as deforestation, fishing, application of fertilizers, drought, flood, and the rate of change of the environment affect distribution or disappearance of traits in species.]
HS-LS4-6. Create or revise a simulation to test a solution to mitigate adverse impacts of human activity on biodiversity.*
[Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on designing solutions for a proposed problem related to threatened or endangered species, or to genetic variation of organisms for multiple species.]
MS-LS4-1. Analyze and interpret data for patterns in the fossil record that document the existence, diversity, extinction, and change of life forms throughout the history of life on Earth under the assumption that natural laws operate today as in the past.
[Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on finding patterns of changes in the level of complexity of anatomical structures in organisms and the chronological order of fossil appearance in the rock layers.] [Assessment Boundary: Assessment does not include the names of individual species or geological eras in the fossil record.]
MS-LS4-2. Apply scientific ideas to construct an explanation for the anatomical similarities and differences among modern organisms and between modern and fossil organisms to infer evolutionary relationships.
[Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on explanations of the evolutionary relationships among organisms in terms of similarity or differences of the gross appearance of anatomical structures.]
MS-LS4-3. Analyze displays of pictorial data to compare patterns of similarities in the embryological development across multiple species to identify relationships not evident in the fully formed anatomy.
[Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on inferring general patterns of relatedness among embryos of different organisms by comparing the macroscopic appearance of diagrams or pictures.] [Assessment Boundary: Assessment of comparisons is limited to gross appearance of anatomical structures in embryological development.]
MS-LS4-4. Construct an explanation based on evidence that describes how genetic variations of traits in a population increase some individuals’ probability of surviving and reproducing in a specific environment.
[Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on using simple probability statements and proportional reasoning to construct explanations.]
MS-LS4-6. Use mathematical representations to support explanations of how natural selection may lead to increases and decreases of specific traits in populations over time.
[Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on using mathematical models, probability statements, and proportional reasoning to support explanations of trends in changes to populations over time.] [Assessment Boundary: Assessment does not include Hardy Weinberg calculations.]
How do the NGSS standards help us engage students resistant to learning about evolution?
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