We often share stories about what NCSE is doing to promote evolution education across the country, whether we’re working to defeat anti-science legislation, support science teachers, or build community support for science education. But here’s a story about how NCSE helps to support evolution education in our own backyard.
For years, schools near our home office in Oakland, California, have been able to borrow materials on human evolution designed by our former executive director Eugenie C. Scott and former staffers Louise S. Mead and Eric Meikle. These materials feature a collection of resin casts of hominid skulls along with supporting documents to help students develop a cladistic understanding of hominid evolutionary relationships. The ability to see and touch facsimile evidence of evolution is extraordinarily helpful for classroom learning. (And it’s important for community learning, too, as our work with the Science Booster Club program has shown.)
In the 2016–2017 school year, Caterina Meyers of Drew School in San Francisco borrowed the materials to use with her science class. She kindly supplied these pictures of students hard at work with our skulls and their laptops (and their skulls, too, I guess). You can see how engaged the students are with this opportunity to study the fossil evidence for human evolution.
Human evolution tends to be the prickliest part of evolutionary theory to accept for many students. Resources like this, which allow people to explore evidence from the fossil record for themselves, are valuable tools. And NCSE is pleased to be able to offer them to our local community of evolution educators.
Are you a teacher in the Bay Area who is interested in using hands-on materials to teach evolution through cladistics and human origins? Now that school is out for summer, it’s a great time to think about new materials to bring in for the fall, and we’d love to help you out! If you’re located elsewhere, and you have—or are thinking about acquiring—a similar set of skull casts to share with local teachers, we’d be happy to discuss our experiences and share our materials. Either way, reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.