New Perspectives in Science Education

Edition 14

Accepted Abstracts

Evolution and Heredity Online Course for Educators

Vered Shapiro, The Davidson Institute for Science Education (Israel)

Gal Yerushalmi, The Davidson Institute for Science Education (Israel)

Pion Carmit, Weizmann Institute of Science (Israel)


“Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution”. Indeed, modern biological sciences focus primarily on understanding the biological processes that are responsible for the diverse body plans, life styles and physiological processes observed in modern-day organisms. Yet, over the years, both educators and education plans tended to avoid teaching evolution. As there are no scientific arguments against the theory of evolution, and its importance to understanding biological processes is obvious, the main reason for this avoidance is the desire to avoid social and cultural conflicts. Nevertheless, this prolonged avoidance of this supposedly volatile subject results in a lack of modern teaching tools, making it even harder for current-day science educators to integrate it into their curriculum. To overcome this barrier we are currently developing an online open course for educators focusing on evolution and heredity, providing the teacher with lesson plans and interactive online teaching resources for their students. This timeline-based course, built as three consecutive units, tells the story of the scientific discoveries leading to the modern synthesis of evolutionary theory. The first part discusses the work of Charles Darwin and theory of evolution. The sencond part focuses on Gregor Mendel’s first experiments in heredity and genetics. The third part brings the students to modern day molecular biology, when genetic engineering enables us to change the rules of spontaneous mutations and technology overcomes natural selection. We believe it is important for both students and educators to learn not just the science itself but also the history of science, and to understand how scientific theories that were once accepted are subsequently supplemented or even replaced by new findings, and how emerging technologies assist us in furthering our understanding of biology and evolution. 

KeywordsEvolution, heredity, genetics, online, course, educators;


[1] Maynard Smith, J. “The Theory of Evolution”, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press. 1993
[2] Dawkins, R.  “The Blind Watchmaker”, London, Penguin Books, 1990
[3] Szasz, F. "William B. Riley and the Fight against Teaching of Evolution in Minnesota", Minnesota History,  1969, 41:201-216
[4] Miller, E. Scott, C. Okamoto, S. “Public Acceptance of Evolution“ Science, 2006, 313:765-766
[5] Lachish-Zalait A. et al, “The educational arm of the Weizmann Institute of Science”, In this conference proceedings (2018).


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