Teaching About Evolution and the Nature of Science

Today many school students are shielded from one of the most important concepts in modern science: evolution. In engaging and conversational style, Teaching About Evolution and the Nature of Science provides a well-structured framework for understanding and teaching evolution. Written for teachers, parents, and community officials as well as scientists and educators, this book describes how evolution reveals both the great diversity and similarity among the Earth’s organisms; it explores how scientists approach the question of evolution; and it illustrates the nature of science as a way of knowing about the natural world. In addition, the book provides answers to frequently asked questions to help readers understand many of the issues and misconceptions about evolution. The book includes sample activities for teaching about evolution and the nature of science. For example, the book includes activities that investigate fossil footprints and population growth that teachers of science can use to introduce principles of evolution. Background information, materials, and step-by-step presentations are provided for each activity. In addition, this volume: Presents the evidence for evolution, including how evolution can be observed today. Explains the nature of science through a variety of examples. Describes how science differs from other human endeavors and why evolution is one of the best avenues for helping students understand this distinction. Answers frequently asked questions about evolution. Teaching About Evolution and the Nature of Science builds on the 1996 National Science Education Standards released by the National Research Council–and offers detailed guidance on how to evaluate and choose instructional materials that support the standards. Comprehensive and practical, this book brings one of today’s educational challenges into focus in a balanced and reasoned discussion. It will be of special interest to teachers of science, school administrators, and interested members of the community.

Source: www.nap.edu

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Darwin’s Gift: To Science and Religion

With the publication in 1859 of On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, Charles Darwin established evolution by common descent as the dominant scientific explanation for nature’s diversity. This was to be his gift to science and society; at last, we had an explanation for how life came to be on Earth. Scientists agree that the evolutionary origin of animals and plants is a scientific conclusion beyond reasonable doubt. They place it beside such established concepts as the roundness of the earth, its revolution around the sun, and the molecular composition of matter. That evolution has occurred, in other words, is a fact. Yet as we approach the bicentennial celebration of Darwin’s birth, the world finds itself divided over the truth of evolutionary theory. Consistently endorsed as “good science” by experts and overwhelmingly accepted as fact by the scientific community, it is not always accepted by the public, and our schools continue to be battlegrounds for this conflict. From the Tennessee trial of a biology teacher who dared to teach Darwin’s theory to his students in 1925 to Tammy Kitzmiller’s 2005 battle to keep intelligent design out of the Dover district schools in Pennsylvania, it’s clear that we need to cut through the propaganda to quell the cacophony of raging debate. With the publication of Darwin’s Gift, a voice at once fresh and familiar brings a rational, measured perspective to the science of evolution. An acclaimed evolutionary biologist with a background in theology, Francisco Ayala offers clear explanations of the science, reviews the history that led us to ratify Darwin’s theories, and ultimately provides a clear path for a confused and conflicted public.

Source: www.nap.edu

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Science, Evolution, and Creationism

How did life evolve on Earth? The answer to this question can help us understand our past and prepare for our future. Although evolution provides credible and reliable answers, polls show that many people turn away from science, seeking other explanations with which they are more comfortable. In the book Science, Evolution, and Creationism, a group of experts assembled by the National Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine explain the fundamental methods of science, document the overwhelming evidence in support of biological evolution, and evaluate the alternative perspectives offered by advocates of various kinds of creationism, including “intelligent design.” The book explores the many fascinating inquiries being pursued that put the science of evolution to work in preventing and treating human disease, developing new agricultural products, and fostering industrial innovations. The book also presents the scientific and legal reasons for not teaching creationist ideas in public school science classes. Mindful of school board battles and recent court decisions, Science, Evolution, and Creationism shows that science and religion should be viewed as different ways of understanding the world rather than as frameworks that are in conflict with each other and that the evidence for evolution can be fully compatible with religious faith. For educators, students, teachers, community leaders, legislators, policy makers, and parents who seek to understand the basis of evolutionary science, this publication will be an essential resource.

Source: www.nap.edu

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