Every once in a while I’m reminded just how easy it is to teach biology in the Long Island suburbs.
One of my favorite projects that I give to AP Biology during the course of the year is the "Evolution Misconceptions", in which students choose one from a list of various misconceptions about the theory of evolution that I feel are demonstrated with regularity in various places. This is done in follow-up to a larger point that I make about the seeming fact that most folks who disagree with evolutionary theory really don’t understand what the theory (and the associated science) actually means.
It’s a great project for a bunch of reasons.
This year, I moved to having students publish the work on the course blog, and I have to say I think this was a great decision. Giving students the task of writing a post for public consumption forces them to write clearly and make points with efficiency. I also like how some groups linked to videos as they felt necessary.
I really don’t know if I would get away with doing an assignment like this in another area of the country. I’d bet I would at least get some background flack. People are silly, that way. As it is, I have a room full of super intelligent students who are only too eager to start taking apart the various misconceptions that I give them. Frankly, I have to umpire a bit to make sure they are writing from a place of reason and not a place of emotion.
Evolution education is alive and well, at least around here.