Evolutionary change is a powerful framework for studying our world and our place therein. It is a recurring theme in every realm of science: over time, the universe, the planet Earth, life, and human technologies all change, albeit on vastly different scales. Evolution offers scientific explanations for the age-old question, "Where did we come from?" In addition, historical perspectives of science show how our understanding has evolved over time. The complexities of all of these systems will never reveal a "finished" story. But it is a story of epic size, capable of inspiring awe and of expanding our sense of time and place, and eminently worthy of investigating. This story is the basis of Voyages Through Time.
The SETI Institute, the California Academy of Sciences, NASA Ames Research Center, and San Francisco State University have developed standards-based curriculum materials for a one-year high school integrated science course centered on the unifying theme of evolution and delivered on CD-ROM. Scientists, teachers, curriculum writers, and media specialists have created six modules that integrate astronomical, geological, and biological sciences. The sequence of lessons in each module is designed to promote students' understanding and skills as defined by the National Science Education Standards and Benchmarks for Science Literacy.
The six modules, Cosmic Evolution, Planetary Evolution, Origin of Life, Evolution of Life, Hominid Evolution, and Evolution of Technology, use the constructivist approach of engage, explore, explain, elaborate, and evaluate (BSCS, 1996) as an instructional framework. The core lessons for all six modules are provided on teacher CD-ROMs; instructional guidelines, science background information, resources (print, audiovisual, software, WWW sites), as well as student handouts will be included on the CDs. Each module also has a soft-cover reader of articles from popular science magazines and a student's CD-ROM of databases and images. These products are published as a complete set for use as a year-long integrated science course and will also be available as individual modules for use in discipline-based courses.
The content and instructional approach of the Voyages Through Time curriculum addresses national standards and recommendations (NRC, AAAS, NSTA), all of which acknowledge evolution as an overarching theme and call for activity-based learning for students. The curriculum also meets the need for quality science materials that incorporate technology, while accommodating schools still building their technology capacities and promoting students' basic literacy.
Teachers from the San Francisco Bay Area and scientists from the collaborating institutions and members of our science advisory board worked with the project leadership, curriculum writers, and multimedia specialists to design the curriculum. The Voyages modules were pilot tested in local S.F. Bay Area schools in the 1999-2000 and 2000-2001 school years. National field tests were completed during the 2001-2002 school year in diverse schools across the nation.
The SETI Institute is a non-profit scientific research and educational research organization and is an equal opportunity employer. Voyages Through Time is funded by the National Science Foundation, Grant #ESI - 9730693, with additional support from the Hewlett-Packard Corporation, the Foundation for Microbiology, and the Combined Federated Charities.