Books & Reports
Most of the resources below are available to read for free online and many are offered as free PDFs, so be sure to check out the links. Additional Resources are also available in our Research Papers section.
A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas
Science, engineering, and technology permeate nearly every facet of modern life and hold the key to solving many of humanity's most pressing current and future challenges. The United States' position in the global economy is declining, in part because U.S. workers lack fundamental knowledge in these fields. To address the critical issues of U.S. competitiveness and to better prepare the workforce, A Framework for K-12 Science Education proposes a new approach to K-12 science education that will capture students' interest and provide them with the necessary foundational knowledge in the field.
A Framework for K-12 Science Education outlines a broad set of expectations for students in science and engineering in grades K-12. These expectations will inform the development of new standards for K-12 science education and, subsequently, revisions to curriculum, instruction, assessment, and professional development for educators. This book identifies three dimensions that convey the core ideas and practices around which science and engineering education in these grades should be built. These three dimensions are: crosscutting concepts that unify the study of science through their common application across science and engineering; scientific and engineering practices; and disciplinary core ideas in the physical sciences, life sciences, and earth and space sciences and for engineering, technology, and the applications of science. The overarching goal is for all high school graduates to have sufficient knowledge of science and engineering to engage in public discussions on science-related issues, be careful consumers of scientific and technical information, and enter the careers of their choice.
A Framework for K-12 Science Education is the first step in a process that can inform state-level decisions and achieve a research-grounded basis for improving science instruction and learning across the country. The book will guide standards developers, teachers, curriculum designers, assessment developers, state and district science administrators, and educators who teach science in informal environments.
Evolution Education Across the Life Sciences: Summary of a Convocation
Evolution is the central unifying theme of biology. Yet today, more than a century and a half after Charles Darwin proposed the idea of evolution through natural selection, the topic is often relegated to a handful of chapters in textbooks and a few class sessions in introductory biology courses, if covered at all. In recent years, a movement has been gaining momentum that is aimed at radically changing this situation.
On October 25-26, 2011, the Board on Life Sciences of the National Research Council and the National Academy of Sciences held a national convocation in Washington, DC, to explore the many issues associated with teaching evolution across the curriculum. Thinking Evolutionarily: Evolution Education Across the Life Sciences: Summary of a Convocation summarizes the goals, presentations, and discussions of the convocation. The goals were to articulate issues, showcase resources that are currently available or under development, and begin to develop a strategic plan for engaging all of the sectors represented at the convocation in future work to make evolution a central focus of all courses in the life sciences, and especially into introductory biology courses at the college and high school levels, though participants also discussed learning in earlier grades and life-long learning.
Thinking Evolutionarily: Evolution Education Across the Life Sciences: Summary of a Convocation covers the broader issues associated with learning about the nature, processes, and limits of science, since understanding evolutionary science requires a more general appreciation of how science works. This report explains the major themes that recurred throughout the convocation, including the structure and content of curricula, the processes of teaching and learning about evolution, the tensions that can arise in the classroom, and the target audiences for evolution education.
In the Light of Evolution VI: Brain and Behavior (2013)
The central goal of the In the Light of Evolution series is to promote the evolutionary sciences through state-of-the-art colloquia--in the series of Arthur M. Sackler colloquia sponsored by the National Academy of Sciences--and their published proceedings.
Each installment explores evolutionary perspectives on a particular biological topic that is scientifically intriguing but also has special relevance to contemporary societal issues or challenges.
This book is the outgrowth of the Arthur M. Sackler Colloquium "Brain and Behavior," which was sponsored by the National Academy of Sciences on January 20-21, 2012, at the Academy's Arnold and Mabel Beckman Center in Irvine, CA. It is the sixth in a series of Colloquia under the general title "In the Light of Evolution." Specifically, In Light of Evolution: Brain and Behavior focuses on the field of evolutionary neuroscience that now includes a vast array of different approaches, data types, and species.
In the Light of Evolution V: Cooperation (2011)(Includes podcasts from the meeting. Report forthcoming)
Cooperation is one of the great challenges to evolutionary theory. If individuals compete, and those winning the conflict leave more copies of their genes, what place is there for cooperation?
A large one, it turns out. Cooperation is important in the evolution of groups, and is responsible for the great ecological success of social insects. Understanding how conflict is controlled so that cooperation can occur may explain the organization of genes on chromosomes, eukaryotic cells, multicellularity, and superorganisms like social insect colonies. Advances in many areas of biology have expanded the reach of cooperation studies. This Sackler Colloquium will focus on empirical work in these new areas rather than tread old ground. We will begin with a session on the foundations of cooperation based on selfish-gene thinking. We will then move on to see how the promise of the early work has been fulfilled by the study of real genes for social behavior. The third session will look at the role of cooperation in disease, as pathogens, selfish genetic elements, and cancers exploit their hosts. The final session will explore how this evolutionary perspective sheds light on the human condition.
Understanding Climate's Influence on Human Evolution (2010)
Climate and fossil records suggest that some events in human evolution -- such as the evolution of new species or movements out of Africa -- coincided with substantial changes in African and Eurasian climate. This raises the intriguing possibility that environmental factors affected or controlled our species' evolution.By altering the landscape, past changes in climate may have exerted pressures that led to genetic selection and innovation in humans.
But because the human fossil record and our understanding of past climate conditions are incomplete, the details of how climates influenced human evolution remain unclear. The report recommends several research initiatives over the next 10 to 20 years
Microbial Evolution and Co-Adaptation: A Tribute to the Life and Scientific Legacies of Joshua Lederberg (2009)
Dr. Joshua Lederberg - scientist, Nobel laureate, visionary thinker, and friend of the Forum on Microbial Threats - died on February 2, 2008. It was in his honor that the Institute of Medicine's Forum on Microbial Threats convened a public workshop on May 20-21, 2008, to examine Dr. Lederberg's scientific and policy contributions to the marketplace of ideas in the life sciences, medicine, and public policy.
The resulting workshop summary, Microbial Evolution and Co-Adaptation, demonstrates the extent to which conceptual and technological developments have, within a few short years, advanced our collective understanding of the microbiome, microbial genetics, microbial communities, and microbe-host-environment interactions.
In the Light of Evolution, Volume III: Two Centuries of Darwin (2009)
Two Centuries of Darwin is the third book of the In the Light of Evolution series. Each installment in the series explores evolutionary perspectives on a particular biological topic that is scientifically intriguing but also has special relevance to contemporary societal issues or challenges. In the chapters of this book, leading evolutionary biologists and science historians reflect upon and commemorate the Darwinian Revolution.
They canvass modern research approaches and current scientific thought on each of the three main categories of selection (natural, artificial, and sexual) that Darwin addressed during his career. Although Darwin's legacy is associated primarily with the illumination of natural selection in The Origin, he also contemplated and wrote extensively about what we now term artificial selection and sexual selection. In a concluding section of this book, several science historians comment on Darwin's seminal contributions.
Origin and Evolution of Earth: Research Questions for a Changing Planet (2008)
Questions about the origin and nature of Earth and the life on it have long preoccupied human thought and the scientific endeavor. Deciphering the planet's history and processes could improve the ability to predict catastrophes like earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, to manage Earth's resources, and to anticipate changes in climate and geologic processes.
At the request of the U.S. Department of Energy, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, National Science Foundation, and U.S. Geological Survey, the National Research Council assembled a committee to propose and explore grand questions in geological and planetary science. This book captures, in a series of questions, the essential scientific challenges that constitute the frontier of Earth science at the start of the 21st century.
Science, Evolution, and Creationism (2008)
This completely updated edition of the landmark booklet Science and Creationism is written for anyone who wants to learn more about the science of evolution. It provides a succinct overview of the many recent advances from the fossil record, molecular biology, and a new field known as evolutionary-developmental biology that have yielded important, new, and overwhelming evidence for evolution.
It makes clear that the study of evolution remains one of the most active, robust, and far-reaching fields in all of modern science. An eight-page PDF summary brochure of this booklet is also available for free download. The brochure is now also available in Spanish here.
In the Light of Evolution, Volume II: Biodiversity and Extinction (2008)
The current extinction crisis is of human making, and any favorable resolution of that biodiversity crisis--among the most dire in the 4-billion-year history of the Earth--will have to be initiated by mankind. Little time remains for the public, corporations, and governments to awaken to the magnitude of what is at stake. This book aims to assist that critical educational mission, synthesizing recent scientific information and ideas about threats to biodiversity in the past, present, and projected future.
This is the second volume from the In the Light of Evolution series, based on a series of Arthur M. Sackler colloquia, and designed to promote the evolutionary sciences. Each installment explores evolutionary perspectives on a particular biological topic that is scientifically intriguing but also has special relevance to contemporary societal issues or challenges. Individually and collectively, the ILE series aims to interpret phenomena in various areas of biology through the lens of evolution, address some of the most intellectually engaging as well as pragmatically important societal issues of our times, and foster a greater appreciation of evolutionary biology as a consolidating foundation for the life sciences.
In the Light of Evolution: Volume 1. Adaptation and Complex Design (2007)
In December 2006, the National Academy of Sciences sponsored a colloquium (featured as part of the Arthur M. Sackler Colloquia series) on "Adaptation and Complex Design" to synthesize recent empirical findings and conceptual approaches towards understanding the evolutionary origins and maintenance of complex adaptations. Darwin's elucidation of natural selection as a creative natural force was a monumental achievement in the history of science, but a century and a half later some religious believers still
contend that biotic complexity registers conscious supernatural design.
In this book, modern scientific perspectives are presented on the evolutionary origin and maintenance of complex phenotypes including various behaviors, anatomies, and physiologies. After an introduction by the editors and an opening historical and conceptual essay by Francisco Ayala, this book includes 14 papers presented by distinguished evolutionists at the colloquium. The papers are organized into sections covering epistemological approaches to the study of biocomplexity, a hierarchy of topics on biological complexity ranging from ontogeny to symbiosis, and case studies explaining how complex phenotypes are being dissected in terms of genetics and development.
Darwin's Gift to Science and Religion (2007)
With the publication in 1859 of On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, Charles Darwin established evolution by common descent as the dominant scientific explanation for nature s diversity. This was to be his gift to science and society at last, we had an explanation for how life came to be on Earth. In Darwin's Gift, a voice at once fresh and familiar brings a rational, measured perspective to the science of evolution.
An acclaimed evolutionary biologist with a background in theology, Francisco Ayala offers clear explanations of the science, reviews the history that led us to ratify Darwin's theories, and ultimately provides a clear path for a confused and conflicted public. (Published by Joseph Henry Press, an imprint of the National Academies Press. The views expressed in this book are solely those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Academies.)
Genesis: The Scientific Quest for Life's Origins (2005)
Life on Earth arose nearly 4 billion years ago, bursting forth from air, water, and rock. Though the process obeyed all the rules of chemistry and physics, the details of that original event pose as deep a mystery as any facing science. How did non-living chemicals become alive? While the question is (deceivingly) simple, the answers are unquestionably complex. Genesis tells the tale of transforming scientific advances in our quest for life's origins. Written with grace, beauty, and authority, it goes directly to the heart of who
we are and why we are here.
(Published by Joseph Henry Press, an imprint of the National Academies Press. The views expressed in this book are solely those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Academies.)
Evolution in Hawaii: A Supplement to Teaching About Evolution and the Nature of Science (2004)
Evolution in Hawaii examines evolution and the nature of science by looking at a specific part of the world -- the Hawaiian Islands. By focusing on one set of islands, this book illuminates the general principles of evolutionary biology and how ongoing research will continue to expand our knowledge of the natural world.
This practical book has been specifically designed to give teachers and their students an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of evolution using exercises with real genetic data to explore and investigate speciation and the probable order in which speciation occurred based on the ages of each island.
Science and Creationism: A View from the National Academy of Sciences, Second Edition (1999)
While the mechanisms of evolution are still under investigation, scientists universally accept that the cosmos, our planet, and life evolved and continue to evolve. Yet the teaching of evolution to schoolchildren is still a contentious issue. In Science and Creationism, the NAS states unequivocally that creationism has no place in any science curriculum at any level.
Briefly and clearly, this booklet explores the nature of science, reviews the evidence for the origin of the universe and Earth, and explains the current scientific understanding of biological evolution. This edition includes new insights from astronomy and molecular biology.
Teaching About Evolution and the Nature of Science (1998)
Written for teachers, parents, and community officials as well as scientists and educators, this book describes how evolution reveals both the great diversity and similarity among the Earth's organisms. It explores how scientists approach the question of evolution, and illustrates the nature of science as a way of knowing about the natural world.
In addition, the book provides answers to frequently asked questions to help readers understand many of the issues and misconceptions about evolution. The book includes sample activities for teaching about evolution and the nature of science.
National Science Education Standards (1996)
A landmark effort that involved thousands of teachers, scientists, science educators, and other experts across the country, these standards echo the principle that learning science is an inquiry-based process, that science in schools should reflect the intellectual traditions of contemporary science, and that all Americans have a role in improving science education.
This document is invaluable to education policymakers, school system administrators, teacher educators, individual teachers, and concerned parents.
The study of planetary biology and chemical evolution draws together experts in astronomy, paleobiology, biochemistry, and space science who work together to understand the evolution of living systems. This field has made exciting discoveries that shed light on how organic compounds came together to form self-replicating molecules -- the origin of life. This volume offers recommendations on research programs -- including an ambitious effort centered on Mars.
Page updated Sept. 2011