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This article is part of the supplement: Second Congress of Italian Evolutionary Biologists (First Congress of the Italian Society for Evolutionary Biology)

Open Access Research

Fantastic animals as an experimental model to teach animal adaptation

Roberto Guidetti1*, Laura Baraldi1, Caterina Calzolai2, Lorenza Pini1, Paola Veronesi1 and Aurora Pederzoli1

Author Affiliations

1 Scuola di Specializzazione per l'Insegnamento Secondario University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Modena, Italy

2 Scuola Media Statale "G. Marconi", Modena, Italy

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BMC Evolutionary Biology 2007, 7(Suppl 2):S13  doi:10.1186/1471-2148-7-S2-S13

Published: 16 August 2007

Abstract

Background

Science curricula and teachers should emphasize evolution in a manner commensurate with its importance as a unifying concept in science. The concept of adaptation represents a first step to understand the results of natural selection. We settled an experimental project of alternative didactic to improve knowledge of organism adaptation. Students were involved and stimulated in learning processes by creative activities. To set adaptation in a historic frame, fossil records as evidence of past life and evolution were considered.

Results

The experimental project is schematized in nine phases: review of previous knowledge; lesson on fossils; lesson on fantastic animals; planning an imaginary world; creation of an imaginary animal; revision of the imaginary animals; adaptations of real animals; adaptations of fossil animals; and public exposition. A rubric to evaluate the student's performances is reported. The project involved professors and students of the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia and of the "G. Marconi" Secondary School of First Degree (Modena, Italy).

Conclusion

The educational objectives of the project are in line with the National Indications of the Italian Ministry of Public Instruction: knowledge of the characteristics of living beings, the meanings of the term "adaptation", the meaning of fossils, the definition of ecosystem, and the particularity of the different biomes. At the end of the project, students will be able to grasp particular adaptations of real organisms and to deduce information about the environment in which the organism evolved. This project allows students to review previous knowledge and to form their personalities.