Evolution's Selection Not Natural in Classrooms
Erdley, Debra, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Like evolution itself, the teaching of Charles Darwin's famous theory apparently is a work in progress in many public schools.
Duquesne University will celebrate Darwin's birthday at its annual Darwin Day lecture at 7 p.m. The free event, which attracts 500 to 700 people and is perhaps the city's largest general science lecture, will feature Michigan State University professor and researcher Richard E. Lenski.
Lenski has studied the evolution of more than 50,000 generations of the E.coli bacteria over the last 25 years.
David Lampe, an associate professor of biology at Duquesne who has organized Darwin Day events for 12 years, is encouraged by the enthusiasm for the lectures, but he worries about survey responses he receives from freshmen biology students regarding their knowledge of Darwin's theories.
"One-fourth to one-third claim they were never taught evolution in high school," Lampe said.
Even though evolution, considered a fundamental principle of biology, is included in the National Science Standards for public education, the standards are voluntary and the topic still stirs controversy among those who believe it conflicts with religious beliefs, a National Center for Science Education spokesman said.
"Standards are one thing, but what happens in the classroom can be very different. It's very local and hit-or-miss in terms of what is actually taught," said Eric Miekle, education project director for the center.
Miekle's group tracks complaints about science education in public schools. …