Southeastern Section–56th Annual Meeting (29–30 March 2007)
Paper No. 1-4
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-9:20 AM


DESANTIS, Larisa R. Grawe, Department of Zoology, University of Florida/Florida Museum of Natural History, 223 Bartram Hall, P.O. Box 118525, Gainesville, FL 32611-8525,

Antibiotic resistance, genetically modified produce, invasive species, avian flu, and extinction, are just a few scientific issues pulled from the headlines that affect society on a daily basis. Understanding these issues requires knowledge of evolutionary processes and evidence from the fossil record. The need to produce students equipped to understand current and future scientific issues of societal relevance is rarely disputed; however, public battles between science and religion provide hurdles to teaching evolution. Thus, we must use creative methods to improve scientific literacy and evolutionary understandings.

Building evolutionary understandings can be achieved through inquiry-based modules that build upon knowledge of relevant and uncontroversial geological, physical, and life sciences. A module is presented that engages students in grades 6-12 in determining the age of a fossil horse, how it is related to other living organisms, and observing natural selection through inquiry-based and collaborative learning. Through logical clues and collaborative reflection on scientific methods, the first lesson enables students to construct a stratigraphic sequence of fossils and volcanic ash from which they can determine the potential age of their fossil. The second lesson provides students with the opportunity to develop classification skills and gain an introduction to how organisms are related. Students first engage in guided discovery, while learning classification methods as a class. They then work together to classify organisms according to methods they just learned. During the third lesson, students serve as “birds” removing the most visible “insects.” Through several rounds of “insect” removal, different “environments” yield different types of “insects” enabling students to witness how natural selection operates. By first understanding the scientific methods used by paleontologists to document evolutionary processes, latter lessons specific to evolution are effective and well received. Produced as part of a National Science Foundation GK-12 program, the module is available on-line at The dissemination of this module and numerous others can assist in improving evolutionary understandings in K-12 classrooms.

Southeastern Section–56th Annual Meeting (29–30 March 2007)
General Information for this Meeting
Session No. 1
Teaching Organic Evolution for K-16 Students and Pre-Service Teachers: Viewpoints, Techniques, and Approaches
Hyatt Regency Savannah on the Historic Riverfront: Ballroom D
8:00 AM-12:00 PM, Thursday, 29 March 2007

Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, Vol. 39, No. 2, p. 3

© Copyright 2007 The Geological Society of America (GSA), all rights reserved. Permission is hereby granted to the author(s) of this abstract to reproduce and distribute it freely, for noncommercial purposes. Permission is hereby granted to any individual scientist to download a single copy of this electronic file and reproduce up to 20 paper copies for noncommercial purposes advancing science and education, including classroom use, providing all reproductions include the complete content shown here, including the author information. All other forms of reproduction and/or transmittal are prohibited without written permission from GSA Copyright Permissions.