ERIC Number: EJ906463
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010-Nov-17
Reference Count: N/A
Evolution Projects Yield Results
Sparks, Sarah D.
Education Week, v30 n12 p1, 20 Nov 2010
When a federal court in 2005 rejected an attempt by the Dover, Pennsylvania, school board to introduce intelligent design as an alternative to evolution to explain the development of life on Earth, it sparked a renaissance in involvement among scientists in K-12 science instruction. Now, some of those teaching programs, studies, and research centers are starting to bear fruit. The National Science Foundation, the National Academy of Sciences, and other groups have increased research investment on identifying essential concepts for teaching evolution, including creating the Evolution Education Research Centre, a partnership of Harvard, McGill, and Chapman universities, and launching the first peer-reviewed journal dedicated to the subject, Journal of Evolution: Education and Outreach. Though only one of a long series of skirmishes in a conflict that goes back almost as far as public education in America, the Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District trial, which took place five years ago this month, engaged the professional science community because it put on trial for the first time the scientific validity of intelligent design. The concept posits that the development of humans and other living things was designed by an unnamed guiding force, rather than being the result of natural selection based on random variations. The school board in Dover argued that there were weaknesses in the theory of evolution, and that students should be exposed to the idea of intelligent design. Judge John E. Jones III of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania flatly rejected that argument, noting that evolution is one of the most strongly supported theories in all of science, backed by broad evidence from across the field. By contrast, he concluded that "the overwhelming evidence at trial established that ID [intelligent design] is a religious view, a mere relabeling of creationism, and not a scientific theory," in his 139-page finding of fact. The district chose not to appeal the ruling, limiting its legal jurisdiction. But, along with the rejection of efforts in Arkansas and Georgia to undermine evolution's validity through disclaimer labels on textbooks and fights over state science standards in Kansas around the same time, the ruling ignited an unprecedented push by scientists and education researchers to become more directly involved in integrating evolution concepts in science classes. One of the instructional-improvement projects is Evolution Readiness, a program devised by a team of researchers from the Concord, Massachusetts-based Concord Consortium and Boston College. It pairs computer modeling of natural selection with classroom activities and readings on evolution concepts.
Descriptors: Evolution, Class Activities, Court Litigation, Controversial Issues (Course Content), Science Course Improvement Projects, Creationism, Scientific Principles, Scientific Concepts
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Pennsylvania