ISA’s grade 12 Nature of Science students have recently been studying a unit titled “the quest for understanding”, which focuses on the universe, the nature of our planet and human evolution. On Tuesday, 11 September, the class visited the Neanderthal Museum in Mettmann, Germany, to gain a deeper understanding of how humans have evolved.
The Nature of Science is a pilot IB Diploma programme course that is currently only offered at 20 schools worldwide and was developed developed to meet the needs of students who are not intending to continue scientific study in further education by helping them develop an understanding of scientific methods in order to make sense of the world around them.
The Neanderthal Museum is located at the site of the discovery of the first Neanderthal man in the Neander Valley, which gave its name to the newly discovered species. The students received an in-depth tour, focusing not only on how humans evolved but also on the specific methods that scientists use to map out the story of human evolution. They also participated in a practical workshop where they learned to identify and classify skull specimens from a variety of species.
“Human evolution is an important part of the Nature of Science course” noted Darren Frampton, ISA Nature of Science teacher. “It’s inherently interesting but, of course, doesn’t lend itself to direct observation. By going to the Neanderthal Museum, I’m hoping that the students learned by associating the concepts with real artefacts and appreciate the difficulties faced by real scientists in uncovering the human story.”