Test Posting using Word’s blogging tool

This is a quick attempt to see how if using Word’s blogging tool is useful. If this works and shows up, other KABT authors may wish to try it out.

I’m also trying out the auto uploader for images.

It worked….Published from Word and uploaded the image…..

I did have to log onto the blog to add these statements and edit the size of the picture—I left it too big but I could have taken care of it before posting…..cool new tool.

The Grandeur of Life Exhibit

A Celebration of Charles Darwin and the Origin of Species:
An Exhibition of Rare Books from the History of Science Collection
by William B. Ashworth, Jr.


Where: Linda Hall Library
When: October 1, 2009 through March 27, 2010

  • Monday: 9:00 am – 8:30 pm
  •  Tuesday-Friday: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
  • Saturday: 10:00 am – 4:00 pm

A little over a week ago, on the evening of October 1, I had the pleasure of attending the opening of this wonderful exhibition.  My words would put the exhibit to shame so read the introductory words that the library has published in a brochure for the exhibit.

Charles Darwin was born on February 12, 1809.  When he was fifty years old, in 1859, he published On the Origin of Species, a book destined to radically change our view of the living world.  In 2009, we celebrate both the bicentennial of Darwin’s birth and the 150th anniversary of the publication of his great work.

Darwin began his scientific career as a naturalist, as someone who collected plant and animal specimens, studied and recorded the details of their structures, and attempted to identify and classify them.  He thus worked within the framework that was known as natural history.  Natural history had a vernerable pedigree, with its roots in Aristotle, but it especially flourished and matured in the four centuries before the Origin of Species.  Darwin was the direct heir of naturalists like Konrad Gesner, who published the first illustrated encyclopedia of zoology (1551-58), Carl Linnaeus, who successfully sorted out the plant and animal kingdoms with his influential taxonmic Systems of Nature (1735), Joseph Banks, who sought new species in the south seas on the first voyage of Captain Cook (1768-71), and Jean Lamarck, who made the study of invertebrates a respectable branch of zoology (1801).

We choose to honor Darwin, therefore, by showcasing the tradition out of which he himself evolved.  Fortunately, for exhibition purposes, the works we have chosen to display are not only important intellectually, but are also some of the most beautiful books ever published.  “There is gradeur in this view of life,” Darwin remarked in the last sentence of the Origin of Species.  We hope our exhibition captures some of the grandeur, and of Darwin’s great achievement.

I also had the pleasure of listening to Lyanda Haupt’s lecture on “Darwin’s Evolution as Naturalist: A Bird’s-eye View”, and have subsequently purchased and have begun to read her book, Pilgrim on the Great Bird Continent, that the lecture was based on.  It has been a good read so far…   Luckily for you there are two remaining lectures in the series honoring Darwin, on October 29th and December 3rd.  To learn more about these lectures visit Linda Hall’s Darwin Lecture Series site.

So, as we draw near to the anniversary of the publication of our Origins, take a few minutes and tour the grand exhibit at Linda Hall and please inspire your students to do the same.


Avida-Ed: Exploring Evolution in Silico

At the NABT Conference in Atlanta in the fall of 2007, Brad Williamson talked me and a few others who were loitering around to come to a workshop presentation on Avida-Ed software as a means of fostering inquiry of evolutionary processes.  After the presentation, Brad suggested that I write a post about the experience.  At the time, I didn’t have much to say.

Having had time to play around with Avid-Ed and to make my way through most of the unedited model lessons downloadable from the Avida-Ed website, I have decided to make the post.  The best place to start is to download the software developed by Robert T. Pennock from the Avida-Ed website at Michigan State University, and to read the Discover magazine article written by Carl Zimmer highlighting Robert Pennock’s development and use of the research version of the software to study the process of evolution (The first activity below has pre-activity questions that require students to read this article).  The links below will get you that far.

  1. Avida-Ed Website
  2. Testing Darwin by Carl Zimmer in February 2005 edition of Discover magazine.

If you are a self learner, after downloading the Avida-Ed, open it, drag the @ancestor into the black area of the Petri Dish window to the right, select the play button, and have fun.  Otherwise, keep reading…

Well, as I said, I have had the time to make my way through the unedited model lessons posted on the Avida-Ed website.  In effort to prepare to introduce my freshman honors biology and AP Biology student for the software, I have cut and pasted, edited, and created (in some cases) more detailed step-by-step instructions for the activities presented in their models lesson.  In a few cases, I have even collected and attached data in a teachers section at the end of the student friendly documents that help you understand what the students will be doing prior to your own exploration of the software.

Explorations in Evolution Series

  1. I – Introduction to Avida-Ed
  2. II – Observing an Instance of Evolution in Avida-Ed
  3. III – How do Resource Availability & Mutation Rate influence Avidian Fitness?
  4. IV – Observing Mutations in the Genomes of Evolving Avidians
  5. V – Common Misconceptions of Evolution

I look forward to your comments and criticism of the activities but realize that I am just beginning to use these activities in my class for a second time.

As a justification for activities such as these, if you take the time to read the Bio2010 published by the National Academies as well as the most recent bulletin from HHMI (read Thinking like an Engineer and Add 56), you will quickly learn that we should be doing more to motivate our keen biology students to appreciate the importance of other scientific perspectives (mathematics, computer science, physic and engineering).  Similarly, we should be reaching out equally to those that are already bent toward study in these other fields and show them that they can fulfill there interests while helping to make new discoveries in the biological sciences.

Download the non-education version of Avida.