Ken Bingman teaches
ninth grade biology at Shawnee Mission West High School in Overland Park, Kansas, a
typical middle-American suburb surrounding the greater Kansas City area. As the
chairperson for High School Science Standards in the state most dogged by the controversy
of teaching evolution, Mr. Bingman has witnessed the changes from the front line. When the
state Board of Education removed evolution from the science standards, Mr. Bingman led the
case that reversed the decision. Evolution currently stands as a strong component in
Kansas's high school science standards. The district frameworks list the topics teachers
need to cover, leaving the order of topics and lab choices up to individual teachers.
Before the Lesson
Mr. Bingman teaches evolution as a unifying principle in biology, interweaving its
subtopics and labs throughout the course of the school year. Before Mr. Bingman's students
begin their research projects on the evidences for evolution, they covered units on the
history of biology (including an overview of evolution); atoms, molecules, and compounds;
DNA proteins; and cells and organic compounds. Just prior to the lesson, Mr. Bingman
reviews guidelines for conducting research on the Internet.
In this lesson students learn to identify misconceptions about and evidences for
evolution. Mr. Bingman divides evolution into seven group research topics, and students
present their findings to the class. View the Lesson Plan (pdf).
After the Lesson
Mr. Bingman used the student presentations to launch a discussion about common
misconceptions, to carefully question students' misconceptions, and to point toward
evidences for evolution. Mr. Bingman also gave students time to revise and finish their
reports. The class went on to study the Galapagos Finches, the effect of a drought on the
species over time, and other topics in genetics.