Teaching Evolution with Video

Biological evolution is a scientific theory of great significance, on par with others that explain the broadest ways of nature. Although our scientific understanding of biological evolution has helped mankind to develop vaccines against disease-causing organisms, construct the geological time scale of Earth, and engineer partially synthetic bacterial genomes, the teaching of biological evolution in many K-12 public schools in the USA remains controversial for a variety of reasons. 

In the classroom, the teacher's voice on evolution is an important one for students because of the personal conversation that can occur during an exploration of ideas. However, even the best of teachers have limited knowledge and experience.

Broad ideas, like the theory of biological evolution, are best learned from many different viewpoints. The explosive growth of video accessible on the web, particularly through YouTube, enables a teacher to present information on biological evolution from many different sources. Student engagement with different points of view is one way to capture student attention, raise questions, and potentially reach individual students through specific touchpoints.

The sample of videos here presents different voices on evolution that teach scientific ideas, convey individual understandings, and raise issues ripe for discussion and exploration. 

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Click the filmstrip for more videos on EZSnips.com

Each Miss USA contestant during the 2011 competition was asked a question about the teaching of evolution in school. Here are their answers.

The wonderful animators at MinutePhysics produced an engaging video on the many meanings of evolution. It only takes a minute!

How do you read the history of life? Scientists depict relationships among species as branches in the tree of life.

The mechanisms of evolution explained in one video. 

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Click the filmstrip for more video snips on EZSnips

Evolution in Popular Culture

Here is a clip from The Big Bang Theory in which the controversy about teaching evolution in the public school has been brilliantly condensed into a few tight lines of script. Click the link below the video for a video tutorial.

Click for a Ready-to-Use Video Tutorial for The Big Bang Theory

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Even more video resources on YouTube

A number of YouTube channels, including museums and science organizations, have significant numbers of videos that relate to evolution. Museums, government agencies, university faculty, and many others post video of collections, interviews, field operations, and more. Each link will return results from a search of "evolution" from the YouTube channel. Browse the search results for videos of interest. Explore YouTube further for resources aligned to your needs.

Click each link below for evolution videos from that YouTube channel

Tiktaalik - the "fishapod" fossil

A particularly rich video resource on empirical evolutionary studies in the fossil record is that of Tiktaalik. This extinct genus of lobe-finned fish appears as a transitional form between older more fish-like fossils and land-dwelling tetrapods. 

Click for Tiktaalik's home on the web

It takes a lot of time and preparation to run a fossil collecting trip to the Arctic. Follow the Shubin HeadCam as we take you back to experience the trip that discovered Tiktaalik.

It's a long way from a quarry in the Canadian Arctic to fossil labs in Boston, Chicago, and Philadelphia. Follow the Shubin HeadCam as we take you back to experience the trip that brought Tiktaalik home.

Professor Neil Shubin talks about the discovery of Tiktaalik and one of the greatest evolutionary events in Earth's history: when the very first fish ventured out onto land. Widely known as the "fishapod", Tiktaalik roseae is a 375 million year old fossil fish discovered by a team of six palaeontologists in the Canadian Arctic in 2004.

For more YouTube video resources on this amazing fossil, click Tiktaalik.