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Think Evolution: A summer institute for science educators

Sponsored by UCMP and the National Center for Science Education
Think Evolution II: A summer institute for science educators

Calling all middle school, high school, and community college biology teachers and science educators!

Put on your evolution eyeglasses and your nature of science thinking cap and join us for (yet another) fun-filled five days of evolutionary explorations with biologists and educators from the University of California. The Think Evolution Summer Institute, back by popular demand, will combine lectures by prominent biologists with sessions focused on hands-on activities for the middle school, high school, and community college classroom. Topics this year to include: How evolution informs big ideas; Molecular evolution — from gene trees to species phylogenies; Continued discussion of the important role of developmental biology in generating new insights into evolution; and the latest developments in human and primate evolution. Check out the most recent developments in evolution and explore how to integrate these topics into your curriculum. Follow up with biologists and participating educators at the Evo-Picnic to be held the following February.

Monday through Friday, August 2–6, 2010
UC Museum of Paleontology, Valley Life Sciences Building, UC Berkeley
9:00 am to 3:00 pm

$75.00 for five days; includes lots of free resources distributed to participating teachers plus morning and afternoon snacks.

** The program is FULL and REGISTRATION IS CLOSED as of July 19, 2010 **

Institute schedule

Monday 8/2 — How evolution informs big ideas
9:00-9:30 am Introductions and logistics
Warm-up activity: Diagnostic characters of "pastries"
9:30-10:45 A conversation with Charles Marshall: Evolution's Big Bang: Explaining the Cambrian Explosion of animals
The majority of animal body plans first appeared during the Cambrian "explosion". After summarizing all that the fossil record reveals, Marshall will offer an explanation for this unique event, using computer simulation to illustrate how both diversity and disparity can emerge from the evolutionary dance between the pre-adapted genome and increased ecological interaction.
10:45-11:00 Break
11:00-12:15 A conversation with Roy Caldwell: Mantis shrimp: Still the fastest claw in the west
Over 350 million years ago, stomatopod crustaceans evolved one of the fastest and most powerful mechanical weapons in the animal kingdom, a greatly enlarged pair of raptorial appendages. While the raptorial appendages evolved for feeding, they also provide formidable offensive and defensive weapons that have shaped the biology and behavior of stomatopods. Caldwell will give a general introduction to the biology of mantis shrimps highlighting his work on how the stomatopod strike functions, their amazing visual and communications systems, and the co-evolutionary interplay between the weapons they possess and other aspects of their biology.
12:15-1:00 Lunch with the scientists
1:00-3:00 Introduction to tree-thinking: What are evolutionary trees, what are the different types, how and why are they important to evolutionary biology
Tuesday 8/3 — Evo-devo
9:00-9:30 am Warm-up activity: Building a simple tree (using a subset from What did T. rex taste like?)
9:30-10:45 A conversation with Nipam Patel: Telling left from right: An ancient mechanism controlling snail shells and the human heart
While most animals show overall symmetry between their left and right sides, there are important left-right asymmetries that are vital. For example, our hearts are towards one side and our intestines coil in a specific direction. The direction of snail shell coiling is another manifestation of left-right asymmetry. I will discuss how these seemingly dissimilar patterns are controlled by a common, and ancient, molecular system that also gives us insights into the common ancestor of all animals.
10:45-11:00 Break
11:00-12:15 A conversation with David Weisblat: Why the leech? Lessons from a "derived" annelid
Leeches of the genus Helobdella provide an experimentally useful system in which to study fundamental developmental processes such as cell fate determination, axis formation and body plan evolution as exemplified in a large but relatively little studied group of animals, the super-phylum Lophotrochozoa. Developmental comparisons between leech and the standard insect and vertebrate systems, for example, reveal that there are more than two ways to make a segment.
12:15-1:00 Lunch with the scientists
1:00-3:00 Evograms with Kevin Padian
Evograms are diagrams that show different kinds of evolutionary information: changes in structure, function, habitat and lots more. They explain graphically to students and teachers how we know about the origin and evolution of major groups and adaptations. This presentation will explain how they're constructed, how we use them, and how they are the last thing that anti-evolutionists want to have in classrooms.
Wednesday 8/4 — Primates and human evolution
9:00-9:30 am Warm-up activity: Candy cladistics — Nan Ho
9:30-10:45 A conversation with Adrienne Zihlmann: Walking, running, climbing and jumping to conclusions
Habitual bipedal behavior distinguishes humans from the apes and other primates and appeared early in the course of human evolution. To address questions that surround the how, when and where a quadrupedal ape evolved into a bipedal hominid requires bringing together all the available evidence, including the behavior and anatomy of living apes and humans, the fossil record, paleoecology, and the molecular data.
10:45-11:00 Break
11:00-12:15 A conversation with Eugenie Scott: Myanthropus is older than Youranthropus? Teaching what is important in human evolution
Press coverage of human evolution often highlights disagreements among scientists, leaving the public (and students) with the impression that the field is in disarray. Actually, we have a very good idea of the basic outlines of human evolution. Disputes, as is so often the case in science, concern the details — and are comparatively minor from the standpoint of the general public. So how should teachers deal with the new fossil discoveries?
12:15-1:00 Lunch with the scientists
1:00-3:00 Primate skull lab: Louise, Nan Ho, Chelsea, and Linda
Thursday 8/5 — Gene thinking
9:00-9:30 am Warm-up activity: Thinking about your primate tree
9:30-10:45 A conversation with Nicole King: Reconstructing the origin of animals
The evolution of animals from their single celled ancestors represents one of the major transitions in life's history. As the closest living relatives of animals, choanoflagellates provide insights into the molecular and cellular mechanisms underpinning the origin of animal multicellularity. The recently sequenced genomes of two choanoflagellates reveal that much of the genetic toolkit for animal multicellularity evolved before the origin of animals.
10:45-11:00 Break
11:00-12:15 A conversation with Han Lim: Epigenetic control: Betting your life on games of chance
Epigenetic control of gene regulation
12:15-1:00 Lunch with the scientists
1:00-3:00 Resources, videos, activities for teaching
Friday 8/6 — Educational psychology and understanding evolution
9:00-10:00 am Creating your primate tree
10:00-10:15 Break
10:15-11:30 A conversation with Gale Sinatra: The challenges of teaching and learning about biological evolution
Learning about biological evolution presents unique challenges for students and teachers. Barriers to learning include students' prior conceptions that conflict with the scientific perspective of biological change, the challenges of understanding emergent systems, and threats to personal identity. Theory and research from developmental and educational psychology provide insight into these barriers. Helping students understand evolution is not simply a matter of adding to their existing knowledge, but rather, it means helping them to see the world in new and different way.
11:30-12:00 Discussion, evaluation, reflection …

About the speakers

Roy Caldwell is a professor in the Department of Integrative Biology. For more than 40 years he has prowled coral reefs from Bermuda and Panama to Australia and Indonesia. While most of his research has been on the behavior and ecology of stomatopods and octopus, he and his students also have worked on coral reef conservation and restoration and even participated in the discovery of a new species of living coelacanth from Indonesia.

Nicole King is an Assistant Professor of Genetics, Genomics, and Development in the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology. She received her Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1999, performed a post-doc at the University of Wisconsin from 2000-2003, and then joined the faculty at UC Berkeley. Her research focuses on animal origins, genome evolution, and the biology of choanoflagellates, the closest living relatives of animals.

Han Lim is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Integrative Biology at UC Berkeley. He received his medical degree from the University of Queensland in Australia and has a Ph.D. from the Department of Pediatrics, University of Cambridge. He was a post-doctoral fellow at MIT in the Department of Physics before joining the faculty at UC Berkeley in 2005. His current research explores the intersection of genetic, epigenetic and environmental factors in pathways that control bacterial cell differentiation to better understand bacterial pathogenesis and to provide tools for the rational construction of synthetic circuits and genomes.

Charles R. Marshall arrived in 2010 to become a Professor in Integrative Biology and the Director of the University of California Museum of Paleontology. A native Australian, Prof. Marshall did his Ph.D. at the University of Chicago and an NIH post-doc in evo-devo at Indiana University before serving eight years at UCLA and ten years as a Professor of Biology and Geology at Harvard University. He has very broad interests, including quantifying the incompleteness of the fossil record and integrating molecular phylogenetic and paleontological data in evolutionary studies.

Kevin Padian has been a professor of evolutionary biology and paleontology at Berkeley since 1980. He is interested in how big changes get started in evolution, and in the history of thought about biology and evolution. A lot of his focus is on the age of dinosaurs and how dinosaurs evolved into birds. He is also the long-time President of the National Center for Science Education, the pre-eminent organization that explains the creationism vs. science issue to the public. In 2005 he was an expert witness in the Dover, Pennsylvania, "Intelligent Design" trial.

Nipam H. Patel is a Professor of Molecular & Cell Biology and Integrative Biology. He was an undergraduate at Princeton, a graduate student at Stanford, a staff associate at the Carnegie Institution, and a Professor at the University of Chicago before arriving at UC Berkeley. His research focuses on the developmental changes that underlie the diversification of animals. He is also the co-author of a college level textbook on evolution published by Cold Spring Harbor Press, and is active in educating the public on evolutionary biology.

Eugenie C. Scott is the Executive Director of the National Center for Science Education, Inc., in Oakland, CA. She is widely recognized as being an expert on the creationism/evolution controversy, and is the author of Evolution vs. Creationism: An Introduction, and with Glenn Branch, Not in our Classrooms: Why Intelligent Design Is Wrong for Our Schools. For her work at NCSE she has been awarded the National Academy of Sciences Public Welfare Medal and honorary degrees from eight institutions, and received NABT's Honorary Membership, its highest honor.

Gale M. Sinatra, (Ph.D., Psychology, University of Massachusetts, Amherst) is a Professor of Educational Psychology at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas; Editor of the APA's Division 15 journal, Educational Psychologist; a Fellow of APA and AERA; and Vice President of AERA's Division C, Learning and Instruction. Her model of conceptual change learning emphasizes the role of motivation in conceptual change. Along with her colleagues, Sarah Brem (ASU) and Margaret Evans (University of Michigan), she is currently co-PI on a National Science Foundation grant exploring the challenges of teaching and learning about biological evolution in the U.S., which include emotional and motivational barriers.

David Weisblat is Professor of Cell & Developmental Biology in the Department of Molecular & Cell Biology at Berkeley. After undergraduate and graduate work at Harvard and Caltech, he came to Berkeley to study the leech nervous system with the late Gunther Stent, but got diverted into studying its embryo. After 34 years on this sidetrack, he feels he is just getting started. He also teaches internationally with the IBRO Visiting Lecture Team Program, and directs an NSF REU program in Cell, Developmental and Evolutionary Biology.

Adrienne Zihlman is Professor of Anthropology at UC Santa Cruz with research interests in primate and human evolution. Her publications cover topics on the evolution of human locomotion, chimpanzee and gorilla anatomy, growth and development of apes and fossil humans, and the role of women in evolution. She is co-editor of The Evolving Female: A Life History Perspective and author of The Human Evolution Coloring Book and of a book on comparative ape anatomy (in progress). She is Science Trustee of the California Academy of Sciences.

Limited enrollment, so for further information, contact Louise S. Mead or Judy Scotchmoor.

University of California Museum of Paleontology National Center for Science Education