Evolution and Genetics

Beacon High School

Consortium school

To discover the history of life on earth: that is, (1) to determine the ancestor-descendant relationships among all species that have ever lived—their phylogeny; (2) to determine the origin of and course of change in their characteristics.

To understand the causal processes of evolution: that is, to understand (1) the origins of hereditary variations; (2) how various processes act to affect the fate of those variations; (3) the relative importance of the many co-acting processes of change; (4) the processes, such as mutation, natural selection, and genetic drift, that have given rise to the diverse molecular, anatomical, behavioral, and other characteristics of different organisms; and (5) the ways in which populations become different species.

Virtually all of biology bears on this vast project of understanding the causes of evolution, and reciprocally, understanding the processes of evolution informs every area of biology.

General outline
1. What evolution is and the evidence supporting it.
2. The major mechanisms of evolution.
3. How we study evolution.
4. How evolution is relevant to our lives.

Through the introduction of genetics “seen in the light of evolution," we will become more acquainted with:
1. The genetic basis of biological phenomena.
2. The relationship between genetics and evolution.
3. How scientists study genetics.
4. How the study of genetics is relevant to our lives.

The course requires several field trips (some to the American Museum of Natural History , others to field work sites elsewhere). Students are also required to attend occasional off-site lectures that will coincide with and enhance our studies.

Exams, written responses, laboratory and field work are all components of this course.

Over the course of the term, we will make use of several texts, periodicals, online and other sources.

Arms, Karen and Camp, Pamela S. ed. 1995. Biology 4th Edition. New York, Harcourt Brace College Publishers
Begun, David R. July 14, 2003. Planet of the Apes From Scientific American
Boorstin, Daniel, 1983 The Discoverers:A History of Man's Search to Know His World and Himself, New York, Random House Publishing Group.
Bryson, Bill. 2003. A Short History of Nearly Everything. New York, Broadway Books.
Carroll, Sean B. 2005. Endless Forms Most Beautiful: The New Science of Evo Devo. New York, W.W. Norton Company
Coyne, Jerry A. Why Evolution is True
Darwin, Charles. 1979 (1859). On the Origin of Species By Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life. New York, Random House.
Dawkins, Richard. 2009 The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution
Mathez, Edmond A. and Webster, James D. 2004 The Earth Machine: The Science of a Dynamic Planet
Niemark, Jill. Mayy 2011. Meet the New Human Family. Discover magazine
Ridley, Matt. 1999. Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters. New York, HarperCollins Publishers
Weiner, Jonathan. 1995. The Beak of the Finch. New York, Vintage Press.
Zimmer, Carl. 2002. Evolution: The Triumph of an Idea. New York, Harper Collins Publishers.

Research wild origins of domestic breeds; research variation within populations; research populations and community diversity; research species and type distributions; research population growth trends; research methods of classification; research "reading Earth's history"; research themes in scientific thought; research origin and evolution of species, with a focus on primates; research the cell; research the growth of understanding genetics; research the structure and function of DNA; research the genetic basis of classification; research common misconceptions about evolution in the public arena.

Media Used: 
Several DVD and video sources, including, but not limitted to: NOVA Evolution series; Cracking the Code; Origins; Journey of Man: A Genetic Odyssey
Domestication and variation: http://www.ansi.okstate.edu/breeds/cattle/ http://www.innvista.com/science/zoology/domestic/cattle.htm http://www.albc-usa.org/cpl/wtchlist.html https://www.msu.edu/course/ans/305/Jan_19/ http://www.fathom.com/course/21701781/session1.html
Plant domestication: http://web.pdx.edu/~mworks/GEOG360/5aplants.htm : list of useful plants from north and south america http://www.biodiversityexplorer.org/encounter/food/index.htm http://www.pnas.org/cgi/content/full/103/33/12223 : paper on the centers of plant domestication http://www.news.cornell.edu/Chronicle/97/8.28.97/plant_genes.html : information on the genetic t http://www.nps.gov/plants/wildwealth.htm : native plant uses and sources
Clip on Linne/classification: http://www.nhm.ac.uk/visit-us/galleries/darwin-centre/live/qt/linnaeus-hi.html
New species: http://www.coml.org/image-gallery
History of Science/evolutionary thought: http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/article/0_0_0/history_index_01
On line paleontological study: http://www.sdnhm.org/exhibits/mystery/interactives.html
Embryology/ontogeny http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/wells/haeckel.html http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/comdesc/section2.html#ontogeny
Biogeography/speciation http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/evolution/darwin/origin/index.html
Cells to organisms, current article: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/15/science/15why.html?_r=1&ref=science
Fossils and relative dating: http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/fosrec/BarBar.html
Primate family tree research: http://1kai.dokkyomed.ac.jp/mammal/en/order/primates.html www.eskeletons.org http://anthro.palomar.edu/primate/ http://digimorph.org/specimens/Cacajao_calvus/302626
Bipedalism: http://www.becominghuman.org/node/interactive-documentary
Hominid profiles/fossils: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/evolution/humans/humankind/ed_pop.html http://www.anth.ucsb.edu/projects/human/ http://www.becominghuman.org/node/resources http://www.becominghuman.org/node/interactive-documentary http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/homs/species.html http://www.anth.ucsb.edu/projects/human/# http://humanorigins.si.edu/
Interviews with paleontologists: http://www.leakey.com/louise_leakey.htm http://www.roycecarlton.com/speaker-print-format/Louise-Leakey-Biography/ http://www.leakey.com/leakey_research_project.htm http://www.achievement.org/autodoc/page/joh1bio-1 http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/homs/djohanson.html http://www.handprint.com/LS/ANC/evol.html http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/homs/rleakey.html http://www.leakey.com/richard_leakey.htm
DNA basics: http://learn.genetics.utah.edu/units/basics/molgen/ http://www.dnaftb.org/17/animation.html http://highered.mcgraw-hill.com/sites/0072437316/student_view0/chapter14/animations.html#
DNA comparisons: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
Interim Assessments: 

Students research wild varieties of domestic breeds and create charts showing their geographic origins, native adaptations, and current status of both wild and domestic varieties.

Students group and classify organisms at different hierarchical levels, based on different levels of information and detail. Information regarding fossils and extinct relatives is added in order to mimic the paleontological concepts.

Students research cladistics and primates and create a kinetic art piece of a cladogram of extant primate species. The "artist statement" is used to assess direct content knowledge/interpretation of data.

Students use NCBI blast program to create cladograms of several select organisms and interpret the relation of genetic evidence as it relates to evidence from the fossil record.

Significant Assignments: 

See above. Also: readings on the growth of scientific thought; stratigraphy and rock formations; relative dating and fossils; population growth; embryological development and its importance/misinterpretation; interpreting graphic representation of data; basic vertebrate anatomy; skull modeling; cell microscopy/anatomy; DNA extraction; reading DNA; using NCBI for comparative genomics.

Significant Activities or Projects: 

See above.

Sample PBATs: 
Addressing misconceptions: Eugenics and Darwin
Evolution and society: Rapid Evolution of HIV