Sunday, October 5, 2008

Understanding Evolution website

As a follow up to the weblink that I mentioned in the MLA 266 class at Stanford on Thursday night,, I also wanted to add a few words about this website, which is called "Understanding Evolution."

This site, which I found while searching for information about uniformitarianism and Charles Lyell, is a rich resource for almost anybody interested in evolutionary theory and the history of its development. While it appears on first glance to be developed for school teachers seeking lesson plans on the topic, as well as for secondary school students seeking material for research papers, the articles are written to a sufficient level of depth to appeal to adults and any interested layperson. In fact, with an eye toward the research projects we will be working on this quarter, this website is a good resource for obtaining background information on most of the topics that we are likely to cover, and in that sense, can be an alternative to Wikipedia for getting quick information about topics as diverse as Lamarck and Linneaus, natural selection and genetic drift, speciation and mutation, as well as the tree of life.

One advantage that this site does have over Wikipedia, however, is that its sources are meticulously and authoritatively documented, and the site itself has even been evaluated by an outside firm that specializes in "technology interventions in education"(Rockman et. al.), with the results of its evaluations and surveys about the site posted online for all to see. Perhaps this is not so surprising, since the site is created by the University of California Museum of Paleontology, working with the National Center for Science Education (whose own Eugenie Scott we heard lecture at Stanford this past week). Nevertheless, it is certainly welcome to see a site like this crafted with such care, and this does increase the level of confidence and trust of any student wishing to use it as a research source.

In addition to sections explaining the basics of evolution (in great detail though, I might add), the evidence for evolution, its impact on everyday life, and the history of evolutionary theory, this site also contains sections on lesson plans for teachers and a featured news topic as well (currently focusing on the evolution of Tasmanian devils, and the development of cancerous lesions that are threatening to wipe out this species), which in addition to an article compiled by the website staff, also contains links to articles and other information resources on the topic.

Enough said for now......if you are looking to pass some time on a Sunday afternoon, I'd highly recommended browsing through this site. Enjoy.

Brad Bauer

No comments: