The middle school science classroom is often students’ first contact with a scientific presentation on evolution. This is an expanded version of the author’s article “Evolution and Middle-Level Education: Observations and Recommendations” that was published in the Jan/Feb 2005 issue of NCSE Reports. Note that this article is based primarily on the author’s experience rather than academic research. A list of selected resources follows.
Teaching Evolution to Middle Level Students
By Vince Sperrazza
The 12 year old hand goes up at the first mention of the word evolution, “Is it true we came from monkeys?” It’s the first day of school, and I mention evolution in a list of topics for the year ahead in my 7th grade life science classes.
That’s the nature of middle school students. Impulsive, inquisitive, focused on their peers, yet they can still be excited about learning. As their brains try to catch up with their fast growing bodies, they are “hormones with feet,” as one adolescent psychologist characterized them many years ago. Continue reading Teaching Evolution to Middle Level Students
By Vince Sperrazza
Imagine you’ve settled into a theater to see a 24 hour movie spectacular featuring the history of the earth.
You start at midnight, and for the first 18 hours, (think – day and a half) it’s not exciting. You have plenty of time for naps, food, and bathroom as the movie opens on an alien looking world, full of noxious clouds and meteorite strikes. The camera shows mostly microscopic views of tiny bacteria, while the sky slowly turns blue.
If you watch carefully, by about 7 PM you can see little soft bodied creatures among the bacteria. Shortly after 9, the seafloor is crawling with trilobites and waving crinoids. Nearly at 10, giant fish inhabit the water, while huge horsetails and ferns sprout up on land.
At around 10:30 it’s dinosaur time, and for about an hour, they dominate the landscape. A bit past 11:30, there’s a bright flash, then darkness. Soon the screen brightens and is filled with birds and mammals, both familiar and strange.
At about 20 seconds to midnight, you watch carefully to see early humans stalking the savannah. All of human recorded history fits within the last few seconds before midnight.
Here are some places to start for more info