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About Us

This website has been developed to provide a web based resource for use by New Zealand secondary teachers, especially in the science fields of evolution and geological time.


The comments on this site are the beliefs of individuals and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Waikato as a whole.

This website does not take any responsibility for the content of external links. While every effort has been made to review and regularly check outside sources we take no liability for other websites.

The last check of the links was carried out in October 2004

Copyright Information

If you have any comments on this site or wish to contact us please email us at (Note, please substitute 'at' in this email address with @)

The 'Evolution for Teaching' Website Project

Through discussions with teachers and gaps in the information and structure of existing sites (plus the findings of the National Curriculum Stocktake project it became obvious that there was a need for a resource site for Science teachers. New Zealand science teachers expressed a need for a website that provides knowledge content (evidence, NZ examples, images) to enable them to teach and answer questions arising in their classrooms on evolution with accurate, clear and relevant scientific information.

Our 'Evolution for Teaching' website is intended to provide expert support and quality material and resources for New Zealand Science teachers. This resource stands apart from existing material available on the web in that it specifically focuses on evolution, geological time, New Zealand examples and the New Zealand senior school curriculum. Naturally it can be used as a resource by science teachers of any nationality.

Recognising that teachers are very busy and consistently adapt material for use with their classes this site provides 'bite sized' information with images for use in response to student queries or for integration into a planned unit. A key feature of this site is its 'search' function. There is a Frequently Asked Questions area that will build up over time with teachers using the email form provided to send in their questions. Thus the site will have a degree of interactivity and is an active area.

Our intention is that annually the content will be reviewed in light of the senior secondary school science curriculum and assessment and events in the scientific community so that the site remains accurate and relevant.


The People

This project was initiated by Dr Alison Campbell and Dr Penelope Cooke. Essentially, four people worked as a team to get this project up and running. We did not allocate official roles we just got on with it. The notes provided here are to highlight our level of experience and expertise to give some reassurance that we know what we are talking about.

Dr Alison Campbell
Role: Team Leader and Content Development
Qualifications: PhD (Massey) TTC

After gaining a PhD in animal behaviour, Alison taught in secondary schools for seven years. She then returned to the university environment, working first at Massey University and now at the University of Waikato, where she is based in the Department of Biological Sciences. Her current role, in addition to teaching responsibilities, includes mentoring first year biology students as well as supporting international students at all levels of study. Recent research projects in science education include a study on the teaching in first year biology courses and student and teacher understanding of evolution.

Dr Penelope Cooke
Role: Researcher and Content Development
Qualifications: BSc, MSc (Hons), PhD (Waikato) PGCE (Bath)

Having completed her Masters degree in Earth Sciences, Penny embarked on her OE and while living in the UK completed a Postgraduate Certificate of Education at the University of Bath. She then taught at secondary school for 2 years, before returning to New Zealand where she started her PhD in addition to being a first year undergraduate Earth Sciences tutor. Now that she has finished her doctorate in Neogene palaeoceanography - it was a study of the ancient Tasman Sea over the last 19 million years, Penny is starting on a new project, the result of a recently awarded a Comer Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship. Her postdoc research will focus on the climate history of New Zealand from the perspective of the sediment supply to the deep ocean off the east coast of the South Island. Discussions with Alison regarding student understanding of evolution and geological time prompted a joint research project in science education on student and teacher understanding of evolution and the scientific method.

Dr Kathrin Cass
Role: Researcher and Content writer
Qualifications: Mag.rer.nat. (Salzburg, Austria), PhD (Waikato)

Kathrin has a PhD in Geoscience Education from the University of Waikato. She is also a trained secondary school teacher for Biology and Earth Sciences and she has taught at schools in Austria and New Zealand. Kathrin has spent the last 10 years developing and researching Earth Science resources for teachers mainly in out of classroom environments.

Kerry Earl
Role: Project Coordinator
Qualifications: Dip Tchg, BEd (Canterbury) MEd (Hons) (Waikato)

Kerry has a Master's degree in Education from the University of Waikato. She has taught in primary and secondary schools in New Zealand and Britain and the United States. She has worked on a number of case study projects in schools and industry organisations. Kerry currently works as an education researcher for The School of Science and Engineering at The University of Waikato with her main focus being online education research and development. Kerry's personal research interests are personal and professional development and organisational change.

Do we have all the answers?

Scientific knowledge is objectively proven knowledge, with no space for personal opinions, speculations or preferences. Its aim is to explain and predict after careful study. However there are many things that have not yet been answered, maybe because the technology available is not advanced enough or maybe because the question has not been thought of. So in some cases it is OK not to have all the answers. On this website we have tried to provide comprehensive information about evolution and our aim was to include any relevant scientific material. If there are any areas that you would like to see extended or if there are any questions that we havenít answered we invite you to contact us and we will try to answer them if we can.


Thank You  Credits  

We are grateful to Dr Geoff Chambers and his colleagues, from the Institute for Molecular Systematics (School of Biological Sciences) at Victoria University , for providing us with the information on kea, kaka, kakapo, karariki, geckos, and cicadas.

We also gratefully acknowledge the assistance of Professor David Lambert and his colleagues, from Massey University's Institute of Molecular Biosciences and the Allan Wilson Centre, in providing information on microevolution in Adelie penguins.

Dr Carolyn (Kim) King from the Department of Biological Sciences at The University of Waikato, and Professor John A. Campbell from the Department of Communication at the University of Memphis kindly provided commentaries for the section on Darwin and Religion.

Thanks to Mike Eagle (Auckland Museum and University of Auckland) for his donation of a fossil collection to the Dept. of Earth Sciences, University of Waikato, which was used for the photographs.

Thanks to Barry O'Brian (Dept. of Biological Sciences, University of Waikato) for the time and effort he put in to taking the fossil photos.

Thanks to Professor Cam Nelson and Associate Professor Roger Briggs (Dept of Earth Sciences, University of Waikato) for help with the geology of New Zealand section.


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