The "Understanding Evolution" Web site (evolution.berkeley.edu), funded by the National Science Foundation and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) and created jointly by UC Berkeley's Museum of Paleontology and the National Center for Science Education, went online in early February. It debuted just as Georgia's Superintendent of Education advocated eliminating the evolution "buzzword" from the state science curriculum and the Ohio state Board of Education voted to include some aspects of intelligent design in lesson plans about evolution.
For teachers caught up in the imbroglio, or those who just want to brush up on their understanding of the theory or find an engaging lesson plan for their students, the Web site is the place to go.
"Many K-12 teachers don't have a strong science background, so there is some discomfort in teaching evolution, which is perceived by some as controversial," said Judy Scotchmoor, director of education and public programs at the UC Museum of Paleontology and a 25-year veteran of 7th and 8th grade science classrooms. "We provide a comfort zone. Teachers can use this Web site to increase their confidence level so they can teach evolution enthusiastically in the classroom."
One Tennessee science teacher who stumbled on the new site e-mailed the museum with his praise. "Your gorgeous, content-rich site absolutely knocked my socks off! Don't know who the genius was who knew exactly what middle-schoolers would be interested in while learning real science, but I am totally impressed! The content is superb and the graphics beyond belief."<
Contact: Robert Sanders
University of California - Berkeley