Reports of the National Center for Science Education

The Road to Extinction

What was it like in the hours, days, and years directly after that fateful meteor strike that contributed to Earth’s most recent mass extinction event? The answer to this question was the basis for science writer and communicator Riley Black’s Darwin Day webinar. Sponsored by the National Center for Science Education and the National Association of Biology Teachers (NABT), “The Road to Extinction” was held on February 8, 2024, to celebrate the 215th birthday of naturalist Charles Darwin.

This is the fourth consecutive year that NCSE has collaborated with NABT to bring an expert in the scientific field to share their research or work with teachers at NABT’s annual November conference, then reprised the experience for a wider audience the following February via an online webinar. This year, NCSE was thrilled to have Riley Black share her unique storytelling style, which made her recent book, The Last Days of the Dinosaurs, such a riveting tale of extinction and evolution. A prolific author, Black has written for publications such as Wired, National Geographic, and Scientific American for over a decade.

Coupled with Black’s presentation, Director of Teacher Support Lin Andrews shared one of NCSE’s lesson sets, The Road to Extinction. This lesson set allows students to explore the relationships between extinction, evolution, and biodiversity. Students do so by investigating the major mass extinctions of the past as well as possible solutions to mitigate what some scientists are considering the sixth mass extinction event resulting from human activity.

The lesson shared by Andrews at the webinar was a small sampling of a more in-depth learning experience that took place at the NABT Evolution Symposium this past November. At the symposium, teachers were led through the lesson’s activities by Teacher Ambassador Chandler Tawney and NCSE Science Education Specialist Blake Touchet. Additionally, Tawney shared data, pictures, and anecdotes from her experiences field-testing the lesson set with her students.

Facilitating events such as the NABT Evolution Symposium and Darwin Day webinar is one of the ways NCSE works to support the continuing education and success of science teachers. You can find all our past Darwin Day webinars on the NCSE YouTube channel. And, as always, we encourage everyone to check out NCSE’s classroom resources designed to resolve student misconceptions.

NCSE Teacher Support Partnership Specialist Blake Touchet.
Short Bio

Blake Touchet is a Science Education Specialist with NCSE's Supporting Teachers program.
NCSE Director of Teacher Support Lin Andrews
Short Bio

Lin Andrews is NCSE Director of Eduation.