Working Group

Learning Evolution from the Fossil Record: K-12 Explorations in Deep Time

PI(s): Margaret Yacobucci (Bowling Green State University (Bowling Green,OH))
Roy Plotnick (University of Illinois (Chicago))
Pedro Marenco (Bryn Mawr College)
Dena Smith (University of Colorado)
Start Date: 18-Jun-2012
End Date: 19-Jul-2014
Keywords: education, paleontology, macroevolution, biodiversity, phylogenetics

This Working Group brings together paleontologists, K-12 science education specialists, and museum education staff to design and deliver innovative programming that uses fossils to engage students in explorations of evolutionary concepts. Students will investigate changes in biodiversity through time, test hypotheses of phylogenetic relationship, and examine the causes and consequences of mass extinctions, all using authentic fossil data. We will partner with local schools and community groups to share this programming with public school students in Chicago, Denver, and Philadelphia. Undergraduate and graduate students who are themselves under-represented minorities will serve as facilitators and mentors. Extensive pre- and post-assessment measures will allow us to measure prior understandings and attitudes and to evaluate learning gains. Research questions to be explored include comparing field-based vs. classroom-based learning, evaluating the use of 3D geospatial visualizations of biodiversity changes and extinctions through time, and measuring student gains in scientific reasoning skills.