Teaching Evolution

 

I am excited to be developing and teaching a weekly after school class about evolution for K-2 grades. Evolution has always fascinated me, and I feel that understanding it has made me a better person. For example, I understand that we are literally One Human Family, which is part of the larger One Living Family. Knowing this, it becomes natural to apply empathy to all humans and all living things. I understand that I am an animal and have an animal’s brain. Knowing this, I can have more empathy for myself, and furthermore have better understanding of myself and my actions.

The first lesson is aimed at two simple ideas:

  1. living things make copies of themselves.
  2. often, those copies are made with MISTAKES.

Mistakes drive evolution. If all the new copies were perfect, we’d all still be strings of DNA floating around in the water. But these mistakes were often great news! DNA became able to make a little protective bag around itself, called a “cell”. Somehow, some of these cells were made with a mistake that allowed them to EAT SUNSHINE, a process called “photosynthesis”. For a very long time, about four and a half billion years, that was about it for big mistakes.

In the second lesson life gets complex. We explore the Cambrian Explosion and talk about the food chain.

more to come…

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