We feel strongly about the importance of public understanding of evolution and support for basic science research. Evolution ties together all of biology, and enables us to address important problems facing society, such as recent increases in drug resistance and pesticide resistance, the emergence of new diseases, and the increasing prevalence of allergic and auto-immune disorders, among many others. Yet, public acceptance of evolution is lower in the United States than in nearly every other Westernized country. Additionally, even though basic science research is an investment in future innovation, problem solving, health, and education, funding levels in recent years have remained stagnant (at best). Not only does this mean that many labs must close and exciting research goes undone, it also handicaps our future progress. In an effort to improve these situations, the Rice Lab participates in a number of outreach activities.
Science Demonstrations and Discussions
Our research with local chickadee populations has connected us with state parks and environmental education centers. We have enjoyed demonstrating bird banding for different groups, and discussing our research with the public through lectures and during festivals.
School Lessons and Science Fairs
We have had several opportunities to teach evolution to middle and high school students using hands-on activities. We’ve presented at a local middle school science fair. We have also visited science classes at a rural Pennsylvania high school several times to talk about careers in science, Darwin’s contributions, and how natural selection works.