Evolve - The Evolution Project Newsletter
An Evolution Vote in Texas:

Many of us have recently been following news from the Texas Board of Education, who voted on March 26-27, 2009 on state standards that would dilute evolution education in the state, therefore affecting the curriculum content of textbooks throughout the US. Prior to the vote, National Center for Science Education (NCSE) executive director Eugenie Scott asked Texas members of institutions like the Geological Society of America and the Paleontological Society to write their Board representative and request that they not dilute evolution education. PRI and its Museum of the Earth asked its members in Texas to write a letter to their Board representative. We provided them with a form letter as a starting point, which you can read here on our website.

The results of the vote weren’t a complete victory for science education, but they did shoot down re-inserting the “strengths and weaknesses” phrase that is considered a loophole for creationist teachings in science classrooms.

Here are a few examples of items that were amended in the Texas State Standards:
  • The phrase that the universe was formed “about 14 billion years ago” was replaced with “current theories of the evolution of the universe including estimates for the age of the universe.”
  • Inclusion of the phrases “sufficiency or insufficiency” and "supportive and not supportive” about items like natural selection, the mechanism for the theory of evolution
  • Evaluation of the phrases “sudden appearance” and “stasis” in the history of life, which are used often as creationist arguments against evolution
  • Inclusion of the words “is thought to” and “proposed” transitional fossils
If interested, a longer explanation of the meaning of these small changes in semantics as it affects evolution education can be found here http://ncseweb.org/news/2009/04/setback-science-education-texas-004710

Sculpting Human History: A Work in Progress by John Gurche:

If you haven't stopped by the Museum of the Earth recently, you'll be amazed at the progress John has made in the last few weeks. Come watch John sculpt our distant relatives on Monday, Thursday, and Friday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. or come and chat with him about the project at his open houses on the first and third Sunday of the month at 11 a.m.

As a special treat, John will be giving a talk on his sculptures and artistic process on Friday, May 15. We'll start with a meet and greet over wine and snacks at 6 p.m. with the lecture to begin at 6:30 p.m. Admission to this event for non-members will be $10 adults - $7 Student/Senior - $5 Youth and for members will be $5 adults - $3 Student/Senior - $2 Youth.

April 8, TerraDaily:

"Metal Magic: Nickle Kick-Started Evolution, Suggests Study"
Scientists, including geologists and paleontologists, have been familiar with Banded Iron Formations since their first geology class. These rocks show layers of iron rich rock that were formed during alternating oxygen rich and oxygen deprived times, hence being red and dark grey in color, respectively. This is the first real evidence of oxygen buildup on our planet. However, what caused this spike in oxygen levels, which led the way for multi-cellular life, was unknown. This report discusses the idea that the levels of nickel on the planet reduced dramatically, and this started a chain of events that allowed oxygen buildup to occur on our planet.

April 12, ScienceDaily:

"Evolution's Impact On Ecosystems Shown Directly For First Time"
Scientists use a freshwater fish, called a stickleback, to show that organisms can have an effect on the organisms lower or higher than them in the food chain. This article is a particularly poignant example of how evolutionary principles are intrinsically related to global change. As organisms evolve to adapt themselves to their environment, they can shape how the other organisms diversify and adapt. In an unhealthy environment, the diversity of life is dramatically reduced and only a few types of organisms can thrive. Evolutionary adaptation is stifled, and the overall success of the ecosystem drops dramatically.

The evolution of life is a central unifying principle of modern science, and it is integrally connected to much of our understanding of how Earth systems work and evolve. PRI's world-class collections of fossils help tell the story of the evolution of the Earth, and our programming helps educators, students, and the public understand what evolution is and how scientists study it.

Featured Programs:

Evolution in the Classroom

Teacher Workshops
Tailored workshops to help you teach evolution more knowledgably and confidently

Fossil Finders
Curriculum & resources using fossils to engage students in studying geological and evolutionary concepts (in partnership with Cornell University Dept. of Education)

Teacher-Friendly Guide to Evolution Using Bivalves
Uses easily available clams to illustrate evolution

Evolution in Museums

Evolution Exhibits at Museum of the Earth
The Museum of the Earth tells the story of the evolution of life throughout Earth's history using fossils from PRI collections.

Annual Darwin Days

A series of lectures and events celebrating & exploring Darwin's ideas.

Docent Training
A guide and program on evolution for museum educators.

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