WISE, S. B.; University of Colorado at Boulder: Presenting a summer symposium on teaching evolution

The first annual Teaching Evolution: Meeting the Challenge symposium for local professors, graduate students, school teachers, and other science educators convened on August 16, 2005 at the University of Colorado. The symposium featured four speakers from the university and equal time allocated for audience questions and discussion. Talks covered the topics of evolution in historic perspective, evolution in textbooks, molecular trees, and ideas for teaching evolution. Discussion covered these topics as well as the question of whether religious points of view can be reconciled with science. Additional resources were given to participants in the form of an annotated curriculum and web resource guide, and a CD containing curriculum files. The symposium attracted 100 participants from 25 schools and institutions. Response to the symposium was overwhelmingly positive with approximately 30% of participants indicating they would teach evolution differently as a result of their experience. Suggestions from participants will shape the next event, which will be more centered on K-12 education and include practical workshops for teachers. Organizing the symposium took approximately 70 hours of preparation over a five week period, in addition to substantial help from graduate student volunteers the day of the event. Major support for organizing the symposium was provided by an NSF GK12 grant to an interdisciplinary group of researchers and graduate fellows at the University of Colorado. The enthusiastic response of local science educators and the increasing media coverage critical of intelligent design creationism in Colorado suggests that such outreach events from academic centers can make a positive difference in the local teaching of evolution.