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Author(s): Kelly O'Donnell

Science Forward

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This video explores the way evolution happens via natural selection in the context of the microbial world. Viruses and bacteria are discussed. We will see how evolution can be simulated in a laboratory setting.

Licensed under CC Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International according to these terms

Version 1.0 - published on 24 Jul 2018 doi:10.25334/Q4P118 - cite this


Evolution shapes life at every scale, and it occurs whenever there are three simple building blocks: variation, heritability and differential reproduction.  This video looks at the evolution of viruses and bacteria as models (on a scale that is small and fast) to help understand how evolution works…and how understanding evolution is critical to understanding the microorganisms that are all around us and sometimes make us sick.

Science Senses:

Number Sense

  • Having a sense of scale

Data Sense

  • Visualizing data

Knowledge Sense

  • Developing hypotheses and designing experiments
  • Using models
  • Communicating science
  • Applying scientific knowledge

Classroom Ideas:

  • Statistics and Graphical Interpretation – Datasets for bacterial survival under different treatment conditions can be generated to allow students the opportunity to use basic statistics and create figures. Tables and figures from the scientists featured in this video can also be used to discuss how results can be summarized and presented. (DS – doing statistical analysis, visualizing data; KS – communicating science)
  • Evolution and Public Health Discussion – Students can discuss why knowing how evolution works is important from a public health perspective. (KS – applying scientific knowledge, communicating science)
  • Evolution in the Classroom Discussion – Students can analyze Judge Jones’ Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District decision that succeeded in keeping Intelligent Design out of the science classroom. The 2005 ruling lays out some things that make science distinct. (KS – nature of science, communicating science)

Possible Readings:

  • Kitzmiller v. Dover Decision (linked above)
  • Selections from Darwin 1859 On the Origin of Species (particularly the first four chapters).
  • Palumbi, SR. 2001. Humans as the world’s greatest evolutionary force. Science. 293(5536):1786-1790.
  • Pigliucci M. 2010. Chapter 7: Science in the Courtroom. From Nonsense on Stilts: How to Tell Science from Bunk. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

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