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NCSE Roundup: This Week in Evolution and Climate Change

NCSE Round-Up: This Week in Evolution and Climate Change

This week in evolution and climate change, the National Center for Science Education provides educators with a great tool for evolution resources that's simple and free. Also, one college student argues for better education in evaluating scientific research and NCSE member Josh Rosenau discusses how Neanderthals might have went extinct.

Monthly Evolution Resource: Evolution and the Nature of Science Institutes (ENSI)

NCSE's monthly evolution resource is ENSI's web site that includes "evolution-related resources steeped in scientific methods and created by educators for educators."

NCSE describes ENSI resources as being polished and easy to use with no requirement of outside materials.

NCSE gives an example of a ready-to-use resource available on the site called "The Great Fossil Find."

"It’s a nice, quick (20–30 minute) activity in which teams of students uncover pieces of “fossil material” (bone cut outs) from a 'dig' (an envelope). A scripted narrative provides instructions and context, and a worksheet has some great questions for students to discuss and answer."

"Teachers who have used the activity provide reviews, tips, and ideas for modifications. Check it out and consider adding it into your arsenal of evolution activities next year."

Find out more about this activity and others that ENSI has to offer here.

Why Students Need Better Education on Evaluating Scientific Claims

According to former NCSE intern Lindsay Miller, based on her experience as a student at Colorado College, students need a better education on how to best evaluate scientific claims so as to not breed a generation of hyper-skeptics who dismiss valid research.

"In our increasingly hyper-skeptical society, every perceived flaw causes readers to ignore or discount good evidence for fear of being tricked. Students (as in my class) are applauded for pointing out the limitations of honest attempts to explain the science rather than recognizing their merit," Miller argues.

In order to break walls of distrust in particularly tricky subjects like climate change, Miller says that teachers should be more concerned about assessing reliability in scientific articles, studies, and the like.

Read her post here

What Happened to Neanderthals? Part I & II

Josh Rosenau answers a question from a correspondent about what happened to our human ancestors- the Neanderthals- and why they might have went extinct.

"For context, a quick scan of the literature, and a quick check with some anthropologist colleagues, turns up no clear consensus about why Neanderthals went extinct about 40,000 years ago. Some people argue for direct conflict between Homo sapiens and Neanderthals. Others favor the idea that Neanderthals were unable to compete as successfully for food or shelter as H. sapiens spread into the Neanderthal range," he said.

"The mechanisms usually cited for extinction are: competition, disease, interbreeding, and hunting. Rosenau's correspondent argues against all of these as reasons why Neanderthals went extinct.

""My correspondent was perplexed. Although he could see how competition, disease, interbreeding, and hunting might have reduced the population of the Neanderthals appreciably, he didn’t see how any of these forces could have driven them to extinction."

"In Rosenau's opinion, Neandrathal extinction can best be explained by competition with the arrival of Homo sapiens.

""It’s possible that Neanderthals were on their way out before anatomically modern humans arrived; it’s also possible that the arrival of humans precipitated changes which led to the Neanderthal extinction. Again, that may have involved direct conflict, but more likely it was mediated through competition for food and other resources," Rosenau said.

"So although not just one force of extinction can be used to explain Neanderthal extinction, Rosenau argues that all four coupled can. Read part I here and part II here


Compiled by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor


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