GIFT at EGU GA 2011 elebrates 200 years since the birth of Charles Darwin and 150 years after publication of “The Origin of Species” with a GIFT workshop on “Evolution and Biodiversity”. The programme can be found online at the EGU GA 2011 site. The EGU Geosciences Information For Teachers (GIFT) Programme offers teachers of elementary to high school the opportunity to upgrade their knowledge in geophysical themes and to shorten the time between new discoveries and textbook information. More information about the GIFT programme can be found on it’s webpages at the EGU homepage. GIFT is one session of Educational and Outreach Symposia at the EGU GA 2011, for other sessions visit the EOS Programme on the EGU GA 2011 homepage.
In the “Evolution” portion of the workshop, historical aspects of the theory of evolution will be addressed as well as modern views provided by molecular genetics studies that have been developed in the last 10-15 years. These studies provide confirmation of the theory of evolution and allow major aspects of it to be much better understood. Relationships to major geological events, such as the Snowball Earth and its deglaciation will be explored along with climatic influences on the critical intervals in Late Pleistocene human evolution. Special attention will be paid to human evolution. A number of hands-on activities that allow for introduction of critical concepts into the classroom will also be demonstrated.
Another major aspect of the GIFT-2011 workshop will be devoted to “Biodiversity” – the biological richness of an ecosystem – that is the product of nearly 3.5 billion years of evolution. On Dec. 20, 2006 the General Assembly of the UN declared 2010 as the International Year of Biodiversity. In the present Anthopocene, species are being lost at rates far higher than natural extinction rates, to the point that some ecologists believe that we are witnessing the sixth great extinction wave of our planet. Some of the vast resources made available during this year will be accessed for developing with the teachers educational aspects of biodiversity and its conservation.