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Debating whether Dinosaurs Should be "Cloned" from Ancient DNA to Promote Cooperative Learning in an Introductory Evolution Course
This interactive internet exercise engages students in cooperative library and web research on a controversial topic in science (and ethics), specifically the cloning of extinct forms of life. To debate the many complex issues embedded in this topic, students have to apply knowledge acquired from a variety of sources about dinosaurs, their evolutionary history, diversity, distribution, physiology, behavior, environmental requirements, and extinction. They must achieve a general understanding of the techniques used to discover and retrieve ancient DNA and to produce a clone from a living adult animal. During an in-class "trial," two teams of students representing six types of specialists argue cases for and against dinosaur cloning. Student "judges" hear testimony, pose questions to the specialists, and render their verdict about whether dinosaur cloning should be allowed. Working cooperatively in small groups and arguing a position in an authoritative fashion requires students to exercise their communication (written and oral), collaborative, and critical thinking skills. This exercise creates a dynamic learning environment in a moderately large introductory geology course and demonstrates the importance of scientific literacy in the contemporary experience.
Intended for grade levels:
  • Graduate / Professional
Type of resource:
  • For the classroom:
    • Classroom activity
  • Text:
    • Journal article
  • Educational theory and practice
  • Geological Sciences:
    • Paleontology
Technical requirements:
Adobe Acrobat reader
Cost / Copyright:
No cost
We encourage the reuse and dissemination of the material on this site for educational, noncommercial purposes as long as attribution is retained.
DLESE Catalog ID: EVAL-TLKT-000-000-000-094
Related resources:
This resource is referenced by
Resource contact / Creator / Publisher:
Publisher: National Association of Geoscience Teachers (NAGT)
Journal of Geoscience Education (JGE)

Author: Constance M. Soja
Colgate University, Department of Geology

Author: Deborah Huerta
Colgate University, Science Library