AAS 197, January 2001
Session 86. Innovations in Teaching Astronomy I
Joint Display, Wednesday, January 10, 2001, 9:30am-7:00pm, Exhibit Hall

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[86.05] Teaching Evolutionary Processes to Skeptical Students

M. Bobrowsky (Challenger Center for Space Science Education and University of Maryland University College)

Astronomy instructors teach about phenomena having very long time scales, and they are often challenged by skeptical students. This is particularly true when teaching a "Life in the Universe" unit or course, which includes some potentially controversial topics concerning biological evolution. Yet, the evidence is overwhelming that evolutionary processes have indeed taken place over long time scales. Whether the topic is the age of the earth, long-term astrophysical phenomena, or biological evolution, instructors should be aware of the supporting evidence. Presentation of the evidence, along with the methods of science that provide high levels of confidence in our current understanding, will help the instructor to respond to students' questions. This information will also allow the instructor to present the scientific content with confidence and not be deterred by special interest groups who, for religious or other reasons, do not want to provide students with the best scientific information that currently exists.

The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: mbobrows@nova.umuc.edu

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