Category Archives: Evolution 2008

Ken Hubert, Hero of Life Science Teaching

i-68efa548cdb44e33126c5936c96fe3ed-evolution_2008.jpgContinuing with our discussion of the Evolution 2008 conference …Yet another item from the first day of the conference, the pre-conference teachers day sponsored by Evolution 2008 and the Minnesota Citizens for Science Education (MnCSE) …The Minnesota Citizens for Science Education presented Ken Hubert with an award. I am blanking on the name of the award right now, but eventually, the MnCSE web site will probably have a page on this, or an announcement about it. (We need time for some dust to settle.)Who is Ken Hubert?Well, when it comes to the Evolution – Creationism ‘debate’, Ken is Case Law 101… Continue reading Ken Hubert, Hero of Life Science Teaching

Monarch butterflies in the classroom

i-68efa548cdb44e33126c5936c96fe3ed-evolution_2008.jpgContinuing with our discussion of the Evolution 2008 conference …Karen Oberhauser talked about the “single species” approach to pedagogy. This involves focusing on a single species and using it throughout an entire course. Karen has taught classes on this approach for teachers’ professional development programs.The species she uses is the Monarch Butterfly.i-43aa3685b219a3a899cb18cca4e9fbba-monarch.jpgKaren is a world class expert on this insect, and runs a major research project with them.The idea of a single-species approach is that a student learns a great deal about one particular species, to the extent that this species becomes an organizing theme as well as a kind of living mnemonic device for all that is learned throughout the course. The individual seemingly disconnected aspects of biology and ecology can become seemingly connected by referring back to a single species. If there is something that this one species does not give you that you need to use in your class, there is almost alwasy a way to work it in. Continue reading Monarch butterflies in the classroom

Drs Myers and Decker: Advice on Teaching Evolution

i-68efa548cdb44e33126c5936c96fe3ed-evolution_2008.jpgContinuing with our discussion of the Evolution 2008 conference … many things have been going on and I have more to report than time to report it. But I will get to all of it, I assure you. Tonight, I just want to cover part of today’s Education Symposium (moderated by your’s truly) … not all of it at once, thought, as it is kind of complex.If you happen to work for the University of Minnesota or know anyone who does, best to not read this or let anyone know about it. This is a little to heavy to be spoken of openly. (Since there are only 11 of you who read my blog, I think we’ll be safe.)I want to comment briefly on two of the talks, one by PZ Myers and one by Mark Decker. The other talks in the symposium were excellent, but I want to address them separately.First, to dispel rumors that PZ Myers passed out on he lawn in the middle of the campus; This is simply not true. It is true that he had slept only four hours over the previous two and a half days, and had just flown in that morning from Vegas, but he did not pass out on the lawn. In fact, we were able to wire him up quite nicely. Here are before and after photos of a little treatment we applied to get him through the afternoon (This is me on the right and our techie in the middle, in the first photo).BEFORE:i-c8cfc6454ec454c5288df0e8b8bf56ae-PZ_Myers_Fixing_Up.jpgAFTER: Continue reading Drs Myers and Decker: Advice on Teaching Evolution

Biology Never Was The Same: Mark Borrello

i-68efa548cdb44e33126c5936c96fe3ed-evolution_2008.jpgContinuing with our discussion of the Evolution 2008 conference, I’d like to relate at least the essence, as I saw it, of an excellent talk by Mark Borrello.I’ve seen Mark speak at least three times including yesterday, and soon after his talk we continued on the topic in a conversation over lunch and beers, so my comments here are less a summary of Mark’s talk at the Evolution 2008 conference than a more general reaction to what I believe to be his main points.i-283f125a753886df1095ced6cfeaf735-BorrelloMarkbw.jpgEveryone knows that history repeats itself. Or, at least, as per Samuel Clemens, if history does not repeat itself, at least it rhymes. But more importantly, if we engage in research, theoretical or empirical, we often find that similar work was done in the past. And this should lead us to wonder why we are still doing it. And, why we will do it again. And the answer is very simple: There are only a few questions. Very rarely does a new question emerge. And we ask the same questions again and again, with methods that vary (sometimes only a little) and answers that are sometimes novel and sometimes not.But why would we do that? Continue reading Biology Never Was The Same: Mark Borrello

Biology Will Never Be the Same Again: Scott Lanyon

i-68efa548cdb44e33126c5936c96fe3ed-evolution_2008.jpgThe Evolution 2008 conference started out today with a special program for K-12 teachers (mainly life science teachers) organized by the Minnesota Citizens for Science Education (MNCSE). The opening speaker was Scott Lanyon, director of the Bell Museum of Natural History. (The Bell hosted this event.)i-360cbb04fb3ca5b4766c7598e92870d3-Scott_Lanyon.jpgScott’s objective was to outline several areas of evolutionary biology where fundamental changes had occurred over recent years. This was to provide perspective and food for thought for the Life Sciences teachers attending the event, and Scott was very successful in this effort.In each case, Scott described a similar trope … “Not so many years ago, understanding [this or that thing] was thought nearly impossible…. but today, look what we have….”Specifically, Scott, a bird phylogeny expert, outlined four areas of research corresponding to four major areas of evolutionary biology: Continue reading Biology Will Never Be the Same Again: Scott Lanyon