DARWIN DAY: THE UNIVERSITY OF TENNESSEE’S EFFORT TO IMPROVE EVOLUTION EDUCATION IN KNOXVILLE, TN
Darwin Day events are designed to encourage as many people as possible to learn to enjoy science via public lectures, social media, field trips, and public school visits For 2015, programming is centered around the field of biogeography, which integrates the scientific realms of evolution, geography, and geology. In line with the goal of providing science teachers with the tools they need to effectively teach evolution, Darwin Day UT, in affiliation with the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS), hosted an annual free teachers workshop in February. This popular workshop presented evolution and biogeography-specific activities in line with TN state standards, as well as allowed teachers to share their experiences with teaching evolution.
Our scheduled programs for this year also included: three nights of lectures and daytime “brown bags” provided by both local scientists and a renowned keynote speaker; field trips to the famous Scopes trial courthouse and to the Smokies to explore how geology affected the biogeography of flora and fauna; creative contests for all ages of students; numerous public school visits by representatives of Darwin Day; and a panel discussion comprising graduate students and faculty across disciplines to explain common misconceptions of evolution.
Teaching evolution in the southeast can often be difficult because of common misunderstandings of the science; Darwin Day works to eliminate these misconceptions and provide the Knoxville community with the opportunity to learn about evolution in a fun and engaging atmosphere.