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Online Lessons for Teachers: Learning Evolution

LESSON 1: 

What Is the Nature of Science?

View LESSON 1 Student Page

Activity 1: A Survey about Science

Activity 1: Teacher Notes

Activity 2: What Killed the Dinosaurs?

Activity 2: Teacher Notes

Activity 3: Ancient Farmers of the Amazon

Materials You'll Need:

• 

Amazon Leafcutter Ants: The First Farmers? (pdf)

• 

Sample Research Proposal (pdf)

Activity 3 Teacher Notes: Ancient Farmers of the Amazon

In this activity, students read a sample research proposal and create their own proposal based on their observations of virtual research. The activity is divided into three sections. You may assign Part A, Parts A and B, or the whole activity.

Learning Goals

• 

To give students experience developing hypotheses from observations

• 

To help students identify the kinds of evidence sufficient to reject or accept a hypothesis

• 

To help students apply scientific processes in different situations

Procedure:
Part A: Leafcutter Ant Research Model
Students view a Web-based video clip of researchers studying leafcutter ants and discuss a model research proposal.

1. 

After students view the leafcutter ant video segment and complete the Amazon Leafcutter Ants: The First Farmers? form (pdf), discuss the questions in class, emphasizing the scientific process. Point out the objectivity central to science -- that a hypothesis is rejected, modified, or accepted based on the evidence. Also remind students that hypotheses and theories are never proven, only supported or rejected.

 Image of a leafcutter ant.

Amazon Leafcutter Ants:
The First Farmers?

View in:
QuickTime | RealPlayer

2. 

Discuss the sample research proposal. What is the hypothesis? What knowledge did Currie have from previous research? Why is it important to choose a hypothesis that you can test?

3. 

You may wish to refer students to Cameron Currie's research paper.

Part B: Newts or Peacocks Mini-Proposal
Students will record their observations while watching one of two Web-based video clips. Then they will create their own mini research proposal based on the leafcutter ant model.

1. 

Help students access the newt and peacock video clips. Remind students to use the leafcutter ant sample research proposal as a guide when they write their own mini-research proposals.

Image of a newt.  Image of a peacock.

Toxic Newts
View in:
QuickTime | RealPlayer

Tale of the Peacock
View in:
QuickTime | RealPlayer

2. 

You may wish to review the definition of hypothesis with your class.

3. 

When evaluating the research proposal, you should remember that you are evaluating the process the student followed rather than looking for the "right" answer. Look for how the hypothesis was formed, the questions asked, the methods the student developed to investigate the question, and the possible predictions for an outcome based on the information provided in the video clip.

Part C: Poster Session
Students engage in a poster session to share their ideas with their peers. They may create posters outlining their experiments and then walk around the room viewing each others' posters and asking questions, as if at a scientific conference.

1. 

Organize a poster session. You might want to move the desks to the periphery of the classroom, so students will have room to move around. Students can prop their posters up on their desks against the wall. Have half the class stand by their posters, while the other half comes around and asks them questions. Then they can switch roles. Explain that scientists often present their research this way at professional conferences.

2. 

Wrap up the event by discussing a couple of the posters with the class. Ask students how the process of science was represented in the posters.


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