Monday, May 11, 2015

Tech Review: Lizard Evolution Virtual Lab

The Lizard Evolution Virtual Lab is an amazing science website and app from Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s (HHMI) BioInteractive project.
Developed by a team of scientists, educators, graphic artists, and film makers, the website and app provides a virtual space for exploring the evolution of the anole lizards in the Caribbean.
Containing nearly 3 hours of instructional content, the app includes four modules including ecomorphs, phylogeny, experimental data, and dewlap colors. In each module, students are involved with questioning, collecting data, making calculations, analyzing information, and discussing results. Videos, images, maps, illustrations, and other visual content accompany the text presentation.
Engaging activities are woven into the materials such as dragging lizards into categories and labeling groups; measuring lizards and recording the results; building and analyzing a phylogenetic tree; and analyzing the color and brightness of lizards using a scale. Progress through the modules is tracked and users can print out their results.
Educator materials are providing including a summary and learning objectives, key concepts, and suggestions for using the lab with students. Other useful materials include additional resources and a glossary. In addition to the virtual lab itself, the project website also includes a six-page worksheet that can be downloaded as a PDF file and printed.
Librarians and classroom teachers will enjoy having two ways to access this content. First, users can go to the project website and use the browser version. Second, users can go to iTunes and download the app for mobile devices.
Both the website and the app are intuitive and easy-to-use. They contain the same content, so students could use either virtual lab for the same experience.
The Virtual Bacterial ID Lab and the Stickleback Virtual Lab are also available through HHMI.
Published by BioInteractive in 2015.