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Dear NCSE: I teach 9th grade biology and the principal informed me that in response to the request of a parent, a student in my class has been given permission to opt out of the evolution section.
Nested patterns of shared similarities between species play an important role in testing evolutionary hypotheses. "Homology" is one term used to describe these patterns, but scientists prefer other, more clearly defined terms. Explore Evolution would have done well to accurately present the way scientists talk about this issue, instead of building two chapters around a misguided attack on a particular word with a meaning that dates to pre-evolutionary attempts at understanding the diversity of life.
(Download this document as a pdf file here! )
Evolution and the Nature of Science Institutes (ENSI)
Originally NSF-funded, the ENSI program focused on teaching teachers about the nature of science, using evolution as the exemplar. A site for teachers by other teachers. Lots of classroom-tested exercises.
A collaboration between the University of Kansas and local teachers and citizens focusing around the life cycle, migration, ecology and adaptations of the monarch butterfly.
Intelligent design creationist Jonathan Wells has written the insidious "Ten questions to ask your biology teacher about evolution." These questions try to encourage students to doubt and distrust evolutionary theory.
Here are 10 brief answers to those questions. Please feel free to copy and distribute this document to teachers, students, parents, and others.
In the sections below, Wells's questions appear in italics.
The new field of "evo-devo"–an integration of evolutionary biology with our growing understanding of embryonic development–is an exciting a fruitful area of intense scientific research. A book purporting to "explore evolution" would do well to address this exciting field, yet the discussion in Explore Evolution is mired in disputes about what Darwin thought about embryos 150 years ago, and the legitimacy of illustrations by Ernst Haeckel 100 years ago.