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Website helps teachers, kids with evolutionary theory

When Len Eisenberg walks into a classroom to give a presentation, he likes to tell students that a dog is their 27-millionth cousin.

Explaining to children that every living creature is connected and related is a sure way to grab their attention, the Ashland, Ore., resident believes. “Bing—all eyes are up front when I say that,” said Eisenberg, who volunteers to speak in schools about evolutionary theory, as well as topics such as earth science, geology, and oil and gas.

Retired from the petroleum industry, Eisenberg began volunteering in schools more than 10 years ago, when his daughter attended elementary school. He would tutor in math and science and offer to help out in classes, something he continued even after his daughter finished school.

Eisenberg said when it comes to the teaching of evolution in schools, many teachers shy away, afraid of creating controversy. “I think there’s a fair number of teachers who downplay it because they aren’t comfortable with it themselves,” he said.

A 2010 Pennsylvania University study of more than 900 high school biology teachers revealed that nearly 60 percent of teachers were wary of teaching evolution. Fewer than 30 percent of teachers surveyed followed National Research Council recommendations for the teaching of evolution, while 13 percent taught creationism or intelligent design theories.

To support the accurate, in-depth teaching of evolution, Eisenberg created www.evogeneao.com, a website that offers resources for teachers.

The website seeks to promote the teaching of evolution by emphasizing one of its great lessons: that life on Earth is one big extended family. This view of life can be thought of as “evolutionary genealogy,” and the name of the website—Evogeneao (ee-voh-gee-nee-oh)—is a play on this term.

A “Tree of Life” poster depicts the beginning of life and creation of bacteria, and it expands out to plants, fish, reptiles, and eventually mammals created through evolution. The site outlines evolutionary genealogy and its use as a teaching tool, and teachers also can email Eisenberg for a free PDF slideshow that explains evolutionary theory and responds to its common criticisms.

(c) 2013, the Mail Tribune (Medford, Ore.). Visit the Mail Tribune online at www.mailtribune.com. Distributed by MCT Information Services.

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Comments:

  1. schellekensr

    January 30, 2013 at 5:46 pm

    I would love to see this teacher lay out repeatable experiments where the theory is PROVEN.

    After all, this is science, correct? We are teaching kids critical thinking skills, correct? So does this teacher mention the FACT that none of his THEORY is provable – according to scientific laws, and that as long as a theory is a theory, one has to be careful with applying certain conclusions?

    Just wondering…

    • darth robo

      February 1, 2013 at 8:54 pm

      Plenty of tests demonstrate evolution. However science is NEVER “proven”, as science ALWAYS accepts the possibility of new evidence discovered in the future may disprove it. Potential for falsification is a requirement of scientific concepts. So rather than “proof” science deals with facts and evidence. Of which evolution has plenty. That is why the only genuine scientific debate over evolution is over how it occurred. There has been no question over evolution’s validity since the discovery of DNA. It is opposed only by those with philosophical objections.

      Also, in science, “theory” is as high as it gets. They do not get “proven” and therefore “promoted” to become “laws”. Hence why the “law” of gravity was replaced by Einstein’s THEORY of Relativity, since unlike Newton’s “law” it could account for the motion of planet Mercury. In science a “theory” does NOT mean “wild guess”. It is a testable explanatory model for observable phenomena.

      Critical thinking is ESSENTIAL to teach to kids in class. Indeed the term is synonymous with science, as that’s how it works, along with the application of the scientific method to test our assumptions (hypotheses). Unfortunately pseudo-science is being pushed into public schools by some local school board members and politicians under the guise of “critical thinking”. Although when critical thinking is actually applied to their particular brand of “science” it is actually revealed to be anything but. And it’s a real shame that they use this method of political pressuring to get their claims taught in public schools, rather than actually demonstrating them first by doing scientific research. No, instead they feel it’s best for kids in schools to decide on the validity of science instead of actual qualified scientists.

      In most other school subjects if a student gets an answer wrong on a test it’s marked wrong. However some claim students should decide what the correct answers are and not be penalized when they get it wrong. This approach is anti-education to the core, and ultimately harmful to any student hoping for a future in the sciences. However those pushing for such apologetics do not have an interest in science in the slightest.

    • darth robo

      February 1, 2013 at 9:04 pm

      One example of how to test for evolution is to make a comparison of ERV markers. Since their insertion is essentially random in nature, any shared ERV’s in orthologous positions are strong evidence of common ancestry. We have so many of these in fact that to consider them to be the result of multiple independent insertions instead would be ludicrous beyond the pale.

      Hopefully this site allows hyperlinks, so here’s a published scientific paper on the subject:

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC17875/?tool=pubmed

      This is also evidence that evolution is indeed taken seriously by the scientific community. In fact a search on scientific sites can reveal literally hundreds of thousands of peer-reviewed published papers on the subject, exceedingly few of which question the validity of evolution as a whole.

  2. lknezha

    January 31, 2013 at 2:37 pm

    It is concerning that someone in this day and age is still teaching “intelligent design” in a biology class.

    Evolution can be demonstrated by an experiment with micro-organisms and how they evolve in a short amount of time. Glad to see this website showing other support for teachers to use in class.

    By the way, gravity is a theory too, so if one questions the validity of teaching evolution, do they question gravity too?