Life on Earth: Biodiversity and Evolution

This project will develop an online curriculum module for high school biology. It has three main goals: 1) Demonstrate how a story like malaria can integrate the teaching of multiple science topics and facilitate the diffusion of biodiversity and evolution across curriculum; 2) Model for students how to think like a scientist and show science as worthy of career consideration; and 3) Provide versatile multimedia as an alternative to textbook-centered instruction.

Full Description: 

This project will develop an online curriculum module for high school biology. The module is intended to be a major component of the larger Life on Earth (LOE) online textbook project being prepared by the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation. LOE is the cornerstone educational project of the foundation, conceived to lead the way into a new era of science learning in which versatile multimedia resources, available online, will replace bound textbooks as the principal tool of instructional support. In addition to be being more engaging, flexible, and cost-effective compared to textbooks, LOE is intended to bring a coherence often lacking in online resources. The approach is potentially transformative in offering a comprehensive and superior alternative to printed textbooks, while also providing features to help improve the way that science is taught, using a thoroughly interdisciplinary approach tied to cutting-edge scientific research. A nagging problem with the use of online materials is the sometimes inconsistent and seemingly haphazard nature of resources obtained from myriad places. For LOE, coherence will be achieved through careful consideration of how teachers and students actually use online resources, combined with the talents of a team of award-winning scientists, media developers, and educators. Careful attention to teachers' classroom, standards and curricular needs should facilitate wide adoption and dissemination.

This project will develop a pilot series of high school lessons with three main goals: 1) Demonstrate how a compelling multidimensional story like malaria can be used to integrate the teaching of multiple science topics and facilitate the diffusion of biodiversity and evolution across the life sciences curriculum; 2) Model for students how to think like a scientist and show science as an active enterprise, essential to a good education and worthy of career consideration; and 3) Provide versatile multimedia as an alternative to textbook-centered instruction that can better support a broad range of learning styles as promoted, for example, by the proponents of Universal Design for Learning. To achieve these goals, the LOE team will produce test materials and design a prototype website, as well as build a network of partnerships that includes teachers, scientists, scientist-educators and key organizations with similar goals and complementary interests.

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