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Online Lessons for Teachers: Learning Evolution

LESSON 6: 

Why Does Evolution Matter Now?

Back to LESSON 6

Activity 1: Evolution and Antibiotic Resistance

Activity 1: Teacher Notes

Activity 2: Teacher Notes

Activity 2: Evolution in Your World

Evolution may seem like a topic relevant only to Darwin and a few scientists. In reality, evolution is a topic that touches your life every day. The cereal you eat for breakfast comes from a grain that has evolved to its current state after generations of artificial selection by humans. If you get a flu shot, the reason you have to get one every year is that viruses constantly evolve, and a vaccine that works this year may not work next year. If you wash your hands with antibacterial soap, you kill some bacteria, but other bacteria have mutations that make them resistant to the agent used in the soap. Evolution is going on all around you all the time, and if you want to help make decisions to protect the environment and ensure a healthy future and a plentiful food supply, you need to understand how it works.

Procedures

1. 

You may be assigned to a team of researchers. Each team member will choose one of the topics listed below:

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Environment and conservation

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Agriculture and natural resources

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Finding useful natural products

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Human health and medicine

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Biotechnology

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Understanding humanity

(If you are working alone, you may choose to explore more than one topic.) These topics came from a report titled Evolution, Science, and Society: Evolutionary Biology and the National Research Agenda, a project sponsored by the A. P. Sloan Foundation and the National Science Foundation in 1998. You can see an annotated list of these topics in the executive summary of the report. Scroll down to "How Does Evolutionary Biology Contribute to Society?"

2. 

Select one of the topics listed and investigate it by searching the entire report. (Try using your browser's "Find" function to speed your search.) Look for five examples of how evolution is related to your field. (Keep in mind that other classmates may be researching the same topic, so try to find specific examples to avoid overlap.) The report is long and dense, so you may want to use it to find keywords and then branch into an Internet search. Write a paragraph about each example.

3. 

Next you may want to meet with researchers from other groups who have selected the same area to study. If you are exploring the impact evolution has on our understanding of the environment and conservation, for example, you will meet with others who have selected this same topic. Discuss your findings.

4. 

Meet again with your original group and participate in a roundtable discussion of what you have found.

5. 

Conclude this lesson with a classroom discussion about the importance of evolution, as well as how evolution affects each of us in our daily lives.

 

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