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Online Course for Teachers: Teaching Evolution

About this Course 


SESSION 2: How Does Darwin's Theory of Evolution
Illustrate the Process of Science?

Engage Part A: Darwin the Scientist

Charles Darwin was an unusual scientist. For Darwin,

science was obviously not a 'profession.'... It was a necessity to sustain his mind, just as the food he ate and the air he breathed....

Theodosius Dobzhansky (From Barrett, Paul, ed The Collected Papers of Charles Darwin [Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1977] p. xiii)

Picture of the cover of Darwin's book 'On the Origin of Species'.

Watch the Video for Students: "Who Was Charles Darwin?" and consider which of Darwin's characteristics and actions made him such an outstanding scientist.

Who Was Charles Darwin?
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Reflect on this quote from Charles Darwin:

From my early youth I have had the strongest desire to understand or explain whatever I observed -- that is, to group all facts under some general laws. These causes combined have given me the patience to reflect or ponder for any number of years over any unexplained problem.... I have steadily endeavoured to keep my mind free, so as to give up any hypothesis, however much beloved (and I cannot resist forming one on every subject), as soon as facts are shown to be opposed to it. Indeed I have had no choice but to act in this manner, for with the exception of the Coral Reefs, I cannot remember a single first-formed hypothesis which had not after a time to be given up or greatly modified.

(From The Autobiography of Charles Darwin [New York City: W.W. Norton and Company, Inc., 1958] p. 141)

What essentials of scientific process does Darwin express here?

Next: Engage Part B: What Do You Know about Darwin's Theory?

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