Evolution is a Model, Why Not Teach It That Way?

Paul Horwitz has written a chapter of the book “Multiple Representations in Biological Education,” edited by David F. Treagust and Chi-Yan Tsui, and published by Springer Verlag. The chapter, entitled “Evolution is a model, why not teach it that way?,” describes our Evolution Readiness learning activities and research about their use with fourth grade students.

An important goal of the Evolution Readiness project was to create technology that would support an approach to biology education based on evolution through natural selection. The teleological aspect of biology—the fact that organisms appear at first glance to be designed for particular purposes—is not treated very well in the traditional 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 evolution are slow-acting, indirect and difficult to observe. Evolution Readiness created a sequence of interactive learning activities that overcame these difficulties by enabling children as young as ten years old to experiment with virtual plants and animals and observe processes that would normally be inaccessible to them.

Try all ten Evolution Readiness activities