The Howard Hughes Medical Institute is one of the wealthiest private foundations supporting scientific research in the world, with annual payouts exceeding $800 million. One branch of HHMI focuses on science education activities and is headed by renowned evolutionary developmental biologist Sean Carroll. Starting several years ago, HHMI has produced a series of short films on evolution, each focusing on a topic and usually focusing on a particular case study. Previous films in the “Making of the Fittest” series have centered on lava mice, sticklebacks, icefish and humans. Yesterday, HHMI announced the release of a new series, “The Origin of Species,” featuring films on Darwin and Wallace (a historical dramatization that marks a break from the approach of previous films), Darwin’s finches and…anoles! The films are short, approximately 15 minutes for birds and lizards, 30 for the big men. The HHMI press release explains more and provides short video clips, and the films themselves can be watched here:
The press release notes that the films are only part of the educational initiative, complemented by a variety of teaching tools:
“HHMI’s Educational Resources Group has developed an extensive set of teaching materials that will help teachers use the films. All the resources are freely available on the BioInteractive.org website. “The films’ contents are built upon through additional classroom discussion, activities, and further study. To maximize classroom impact, it is crucial to provide teachers with various supplements and media to support the use of the films in addressing key topics in the curriculum,” said Carroll. Carroll notes that to date, several million students have viewed previously released films and well over one-half million teacher supplements have been distributed or downloaded.”
Stay tuned for the release of materials for these films, which currently are in production and should be ready by early next year. More generally, the films are readily downloadable from the HHMI website and are distributed as DVDs.