- Frontiers in Science Workshop -

Teaching Evolution
and the
Nature of Science

Michigan State University
November 14 – 15, 2002
Dr. Robert T. Pennock

Evolution Curriculum | Creationist Attacks | Teaching Resources | Student Projects | Contact Info
This page provides supplemental material for science teachers in the "Teaching Evolution and the Nature of Science" Frontiers in Science Workshop.
Evolution Curriculum

• The Learner Report "Good Science, Bad Science: Teaching Evolution in the States" (put out by the Fordham Foundation in 2000) systematically evaluated how well evolution was incorporated into state science curriculum standards and benchmarks. Michigan currently ranks relatively highly compared to most states, earning a 'B'.

• The complete Michigan Science Standards may be browsed on-line at the Michigan Teacher Network site. Compare them to the National Standards to see where we still need improvement with regard to coverage of evolution and the nature of science.


Creationist Attacks

• In Michigan, creationists are currently trying to pass legislation to allow "Intelligent-Design Theory" in the public school science curriculum. Michigan Citizens for Science was formed to help oppose this legislation and to support science education in the state; their site provides links to the bills and information about how to help defend science education. Another good site for Michigan science educators is the Michigan Scientific Evolution Education Initiative.

• You can read my criticisms of Intelligent-Design Creationism in my book Tower of Babel: The Evidence against the New Creationism. For those who are gluttons for punishment, delve into the issues further in my anthology Intelligent Design Creationism and Its Critics: Philosophical, Theological and Scientific Perspectives.

• The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) just issued a resolution regarding Intelligent-Design Theory that "calls upon its members to assist those engaged in overseeing science education policy to understand the nature of science, the content of contemporary evolutionary theory and the inappropriateness of 'intelligent design theory' as subject matter for science education".


Teaching Resources

The following sites provide useful materials developed by scientists and science educators to help teachers improve the way they teach evolution and the nature of science.

ENSI (Evolution and the Nature of Science Institutes) at Indiana University has developed a variety of great material over the years.

• The site for the PBS NOVA series Evolution includes recently developed material for teachers.

• The SETI Institute, NASA, San Francisco State University and the California Academy of Sciences are collaborating to develop a high school integrated science curriculum covering cosmic evolution, planetary evolution, evolution of life, hominid evolution and more, in a package called Voyages Through Time. Currently undergoing nation field testing, it will be available in 2003.

• The National Academies of Science published Teaching About Evolution and the Nature of Science, which provides advice and activity plans.

• Representatives from a wide range of scientific organizations who attended the National Conference on the Teaching of Evolution (NCTE) put together a matrix of curricular resources.


Student Projects

As a project in my Senior Seminar on Evolution and Creationism taught at MSU's Lyman Briggs School, students had to design web pages that would be of use to teachers to help them understand and learn how to respond to common questions concerning creationist challenges to evolution. Here are a few of the pages they came up with (currently still in uncorrected draft form):

Aren't genetic mutations always harmful?

What are the main points in Behe's Darwin's Black Box, and what are the scientific reactions to it?

Isn't evolution only believed by dogmatic atheists?

What happened in the Scopes Trial?


Contact Info You can find complete contact information for me at
Dr. Robert T. Pennock's Home Page at MSU

Page created: 11/14/02. Last updated: 11/23/02