Program Details: Open to the public

Teaching Evolution Outreach

We have three goals for our Teaching Evolution For Outreach Educators and Teachers
1) bring educators from the community together with scientists and students at CU for broadening the education community and providing an opportunity for sharing experiences, learning goals, and effective curriculum;
2) training educators to use vetted and effective learning plans that focus on evolution as a unifying principle for biology education; and
3) providing educators with materials for implementing learning activities in their classrooms.

There is an often-cited famous quote: "Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution." Despite this truism, evolution is not an integral part of biology curriculum mostly because it is a difficult subject to teach. In an effort to advance biology education in the state, we initiated a workshop for K-12 educators several years ago with a focus on teaching evolution. The number of teachers and educators increased from 43 to 65 representing 29 and 30 different schools and non-profit organizations. Our survey of past participants overwhelmingly identified curriculum activities as the most relevant and transferable aspect of the workshop.

The proposed outreach activities center around a workshop focused on advancing the teaching of evolution. The workshop spans two days. While we have keynote speakers at the beginning and end of the workshop, most of the effort is directed towards demonstrated tested learning activities that are suitable across a number of grade levels.

Project plan
Our survey of teachers indicated that a late summer workshop (August, 2012) enables the greatest participation. Our goal is to increase the number of teachers that participate in the workshop, especially from rural communities in Colorado. The bulk of the budget request is meant to provide incentives for teachers by providing compensation for travel expenses and a waiver of the fee for credit. Furthermore, each teacher will be provided a flash-drive with all of the materials that were presented during the workshop.

A group of graduate students in EBIO and a handful of EBIO faculty will coordinate and run the workshop. Each graduate student has designed a set of learning goals and some learning activities. The current version of the learning activities have been modified based on feedback obtained from teachers. In addition, we have developed additional activities based on what teachers wrote that they wanted for the classes.

During the workshop, graduate students will introduce the learning goals and then walk the teachers through an activity, or a set of activities. Examples of activities include:

1) toxins in plants
2) evolution of diseases
3) comparative study of primate skulls
4) genetic engineering
5) drawing and interpreting trees
6) antibiotic resistance in your backyard

For each learning activity, interested teachers will be provided with all of the necessary materials to carry out the activity in their classroom with detailed instructions. Additionally, all participating students and faculty will make themselves available to answer questions teachers may have when implementing the activities in their classroom.

This is a public program. For more information, please visit the program website.


On Campus

  • Ramaley Biology

In Colorado

Sponsoring Units

Arts & Sciences, College of

  • Ecology & Evolutionary Biology (EBIO), Department of

Program Contact

Andrew Martin

Program Categories


  • Biological Sciences
  • Education (K-12)
  • Science
  • STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math)
  • Teacher Renewal & Enhancement

Program Types:

  • Classroom Instruction
  • Professional Development - Teacher
  • Workshop


  • Teachers - Elementary School
  • Teachers - High School
  • Teachers - Middle School

We do our best to accurately represent CU Boulder’s outreach programs and services, but they are subject to change and may no longer be active in a community. Please contact the program directly for current information.