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.
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.
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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
- American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
- American Museum of Natural History
- BBC Earth
- California Academy of Science
- The Field Museum (Chicago)
- The Leakey Foundation
- New Scientist
- The Royal Institution (London)
- Smithsonian Institution
- University of California Television
- Yale Peabody Museum
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
For more YouTube video resources on this amazing fossil, click Tiktaalik.