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2018 Active LENS Workshops

Applications for the 2018 Active LENS Workshops are now being accepted.
Deadline: Has been extended. We will review applications on a rolling basis.
Apply here
We have had some technical problems. If you have not received a response within 5 days of applying, please contact Mike Wiser at mwiser@msu.edu.

Avida-ED wins ISAL Award

Avida-ED was the 2017 winner of the International Society for Artificial Life (ISAL) Education and Outreach Award.  The award was announced at the Artificial Life conference, which was held September 4-8 in Lyon, France. Congratulations to everyone who has worked on the Avida-ED project over the years!
Avida-ED 2017 Award

2018 Active LENS Workshops

Applications for the 2018 Active LENS Workshops are now being accepted.  See the link on the left hand sidebar.

News and Events

• Whitley Lehto, Mayra Vidal, Gabby Gurule-Small, and Dale Broder taught an introduction to Avida-ED digital evolution software (developed at BEACON) at a regional conference, The Front Range Ecology Symposium, in Fort Collins CO. Many of the attendees have ideas for how to include Avida-ED activities in their classes.

Amy Lark, Gail Richmond, Louise S. Mead, James J. Smith and Robert T. Pennock. 2018. Exploring the Relationship between Experiences with Digitial Evolution and Students’ Scientific Understanding and Acceptance of Evolution.  The American Biology Teacher 80(2): 74-86

Wendy R. Johnson and Amy Lark. 2018. Evolution in Action in the Classroom: Engaging Students in Science Practices to Investigate and Explain Evolution by Natural Selection.  The American Biology Teacher 80(2): 92-99

• Robert T. Pennock & Mike Wiser. “Avida-ED: a web-based, GUI implementation of the Avida software platform, for educational use.” Workshop at European Conference on Artificial Life. Lyon, France. (9/7/17)

• Louise Mead, Cory Kohn, Jim Smith, Mike Wiser. “Avida-ED: An artificial life platform for teaching evolutionary principles and how to “do” science.” BioQUEST 2017: Making Meaning thru Modeling. East Lansing, MI (July 25, 2017)

• Mike Wiser, Kohn C, Mead LS, Smith JJ, and Pennock RT. “Undergraduate Student Conceptions About Randomness and Mutation.” Poster at SABER. July 21-23, 2017.

• Mike Wiser. Undergraduate Student Conceptions About Randomness and Mutation” Poster at Evolution 2017. June 23-28.

• Louise Mead. “Avida-ED Implementation at MSU: Past, Present, and Future.” HHMI Gateway Summit. Michigan State University (May 16th, 2017).

• Demo of Avida-ED running at the BEACON Booth at National Association of Biology Teachers (NABT) meeting in November 2016.

• James J. Smith. “Using Evo-ED cases and Avida-ED digital evolution as integrative, active-learning approaches to evolution education”, Invited seminar, University of Guelph, CBS Office of Educational Scholarship and Practice, November 15, 2016.

• James J. Smith. Professional development session on Avida-ED for four high school teachers at the American School in Barcelona in October 2016.

• Louise Mead and Cory Kohn “Adventures in Avida-ED.” Workshop at the Kellogg Biological Station GK12 Teacher Workshop (August 8th, 2016)

• Mike Wiser, Kohn C, Mead LS, Smith JJ, and Pennock RT. “Comparing Human and Machine Learning Assessment of Student Reasoning about Natural Selection.” Talk at SABER 2017. July 21-23

• June 21-23, 2017: The third national Avida-ED Active LENS Workshop for faculty was held at the BEACON Center for the Study of Evolution in Action at the University of Washington in Seattle.

• July 27-29, 2017: The fourth national Avida-ED Active LENS Workshop for faculty was held at the Michigan State University campus.
Active Lens 2017 June workshop participants

The following representative comments are taken from interviews with instructors
in a national study of classroom use of Avida-ED.

– “I want students to be engaged in something that is their own. [Avida-ED gives them] the opportunity to go in and interact with the process. … We can play out fairly complex relationships in a short amount of time. … The flexibility allows the students to have a much richer experience than some of the other kinds of labs that you see people doing.” – Small University Professor- “We have run real-time evolution experiments with microbes, however, there is no other system that allows students to focus on the most important aspects of experimental science (hypothesis generation, experiment design/implementation/re-design/analysis, etc.) than Avida-ED.  Avida-ED allows the students to concentrate on the “thinking” parts of experimental science as opposed to the “doing” parts.” – Research University Professor

– “Avida-ED is the only tool out there students can use to explore the dynamics of evolution. It allows them to see an active model of evolution and understand what a mechanism is.” – HBCU Professor

– “I liked the idea of [Avida-ED] being more open ended, so I could say I want you to define a question and see if you can explore it in this environment. That was different from a lot of the other computer-based [educational software] that were geared to teaching a particular fact about the model or microevolution or whatever.” – Research University Professor, upper division course

– “For me it was having the students work with something hands-on rather than giving them a case study that we were telling them about. They could do something with it.” – Lab Instructor in Residential College

– “Avida-ED makes me think that people are capable of understanding [evolution]. I have rejected what most people say, that most people aren’t going to get this, the general population can’t get this, it’s too hard. And [I say], no, the general population isn’t getting this because we’re not giving them experiences like Avida-ED.” – High School AP Biology Teacher

Avida-ED picture in Science World Globe Avida-ED Excellence Award in Interdisciplinary Scholarship 2012
Avida-ED is discussed in the 10 Feb. 2006 issue of Science. Avida-ED has been used in biology classes in universities and colleges such as Arizona State, Cornell, Grinnel, Harvard, North Carolina A&T, Univ. of Texas, Univ. of Washington, Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison and many more. Avida-ED won the 2012 Excellence Award in Interdisciplinary Scholarship given by the MSU Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society.
Page updated 2017/12/01
© Robert T. Pennock