He started with Mickey Mouse.
On the projector, Mr. Campbell placed slides of the cartoon icon: one at his skinny genesis in 1928; one from his 1940 turn as the impish Sorcerer’s Apprentice; and another of the rounded, ingratiating charmer of Mouse Club fame.
“How,” he asked his students, “has Mickey changed?”
Natives of Disney World’s home state, they waved their hands and called out answers.
“His tail gets shorter,” Bryce volunteered.
“Bigger eyes!” someone else shouted.
“He looks happier,” one girl observed. “And cuter.”
Mr. Campbell smiled. “Mickey evolved,” he said. “And Mickey gets cuter because Walt Disney makes more money that way. That is ‘selection.’ ”
Monday, August 25, 2008
Update - required evolution reading/ Harmon story/ Mickey Mouse
Yesterday I posted about Amy Harmon's excellent story in the NY Times about evolution education. For more on it see my post - Required evolution education reading - Amy Harmon on Florida Evolution teaching
I just wanted to give an update here as I have seen a few postings out there discussing the Mickey Mouse example in the story. In the story, Harmon described how David Campbell, the Florida high school science teacher uses the evolution of Mickey Mouse as an example of natural selection.
From the Times article:
Some bloggers have questioned using this example (see john hawks weblog for example as well as Bora's excellent post about this story here) because it seems more like Intelligent Design than natural selection. I disagree and wanted to point out that this is a classic Stephen Jay Gould teaching case study which he detailed (see A BIOLOGICAL HOMAGE TO MICKEY MOUSE Stephen Jay Gould).
In fact, when I was an undergrad at Harvard and was taking Gould's class, we played around with a cool new computer program called MacClade to track the evolution of Mickey Mouse. Little did I know I would still be using Macclade and its descendants today.