This website is a work in progress that just started in June 2015 and is intended to promote global access to user-friendly, organized, thematic digital educational resources and to resources available elsewhere in any form or format. Educational resources include published works, works in progress, collections of physical objects that may be useful in a classroom, books, journals, online links, experimental and observational tools, and experts on campus and off.
educational resources for students, educators, and the public – click to expand or collapse
The mission of the cosmic and global evolution project is to provide inspiration, training, and educational resources to help current and future teachers, informal science educators, and others explore and explain the composition, structure and evolutionary history of the universe and the Earth from the Big Bang to big brains and AI.
The project provides timelines showing the sequence of key events in the evolutionary history of each of these domains. The story of cosmic evolution is told from astrophysical, biological, and biogeochemical perspectives with emphasis on what nature does, not what scientists do.
plausible natural explanations of natural phenomena – click to expand or collapse
The project supports upper division undergraduate student projects and courses and informal science education. The project focuses on plausible natural explanations of natural phenomena, rather than scientific methodology and evidence. Cosmic evolution asks how stars and galaxies and life itself emerged from nothing. The ultimate question in Earth system history is how did a cold dilute cloud of gas and dust evolve into astronauts in a spacecraft orbiting a planet orbiting a star?
volunteer efforts – click to expand or collapse
The project is being developed through the volunteer efforts of Dr. Bob Field, Cal Poly physicist and research scholar in residence. It is an expansion of his Global Evolution Education Project which focused on the five billion year natural history of planet Earth which was extensively documented on his faculty website that is now defunct. Many students and a number of faculty participated in this effort and their activities will be described as this website matures.
We work with the Center for Engineering, Science, and Mathematics Education
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This accordion is based on the CESAME webpage at https://cesame.calpoly.edu/cosmic-evolution-project.
The mission of the cosmic and global evolution project is to provide inspiration, training, and educational resources to help current and future teachers, informal science educators, and others explore and explain the composition, structure and evolutionary history of the universe and the Earth from the Big Bang to big brains and AI. The focus is on what nature does rather than what scientists do.
Project participants may conduct secondary research on advanced topics in cosmic and global evolution including the cosmic web, the first stars and galaxies, interstellar and intergalactic medium, supernovas, remnant stars, planets, Earth’s geosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere, biosphere and/or complex life. They apply the principles of thematic interpretation to prepare educational materials for the website, natural science courses, and/or special events for students and the public.
Scholars may organize special events, workshops, or other activities. They may prepare and give original guest lectures, supervise student projects, mentor interns, or organize professional workshops. They may develop and teach an upper division course in thematic interpretation of advanced topics in cosmic evolution. They may teach courses in astronomy, astrophysics, Earth sciences, and/or life sciences.
Scholars may receive stipends, hourly wages, assigned time, summer salary, or other forms of compensation or credit as event organizers, summer intern mentors, or project leaders. They may collaborate with others to create original thematic content for the website that is under construction at https://evolution.calpoly.edu and/or for academic natural science courses and informal natural science programs using system models, simulations, animations, and/or educational games.
The project works with CESAME, the Center for Engineering, Science, and Math Education on projects of mutual interest. CESAME welcomes employment inquiries from undergraduate and graduate students, postdocs, high school or college teachers of any rank, informal educators, or scientists employed in or retired from any organization.
Whether you are doing primary research, teaching, or engaged in public outreach, this project may help you achieve your personal educational and professional goals. You will have opportunities to explore what nature does and to hone your science communication skills. The National Academy of Sciences says that the role of science is to provide plausible natural explanations of natural phenomena. Astrophysicist Eric Chaisson asks how islands of complexity can exist for long periods of time in an otherwise sea of chaos. The guiding principle of our system analysis is that, as statistician George Box said, “All models are wrong but some are useful.”
What is secondary research?
Secondary research uses research material published in research reports and other reliable documents. It is an efficient way to gain expertise on advanced topics and to analyze and synthesize the findings of numerous researchers. It is a method used by both generalists and specialists. It provides opportunities to explore and explain existing information in novel ways for the benefit of students, educators, researchers, and the public.
We do secondary research to analyze and synthesize responses to questions like these:
How do stars synthesize and disperse the elements of the Periodic Table?
How did large scale structures form from a nearly homogeneous early universe?
Why is dark matter our friend?
What roles do black holes play in the formation of stars and the evolution of the universe?
How do gas giant planets form?
Why is the surface of Venus as hot at the poles as the equator why doesn’t it cool during the very long nights?
What is the origin of life? How did complex multicellular life evolve?
Do beneficial viruses foster evolution, enhance biodiversity, and mitigate climate change and ocean acidification?
Are consciousness and free will illusions
What is thematic interpretation?
Thematic interpretation https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thematic_interpretation is a well-established educational tool for engaging non-captive audiences that is equally effective in the classroom and lab. Our approach is based on twenty years of experience applying Dr. Sam Ham’s principles of thematic interpretation to natural history and natural science studies. Two powerful general themes are: “Everything you see depends on things you don’t see” and “Small things make big changes”. Visit https://evolution.calpoly.edu/purpose for details about project purposes and plans.
What do animations, simulations, computer models, and games do?
Illustrations, animations, simulations, computer models, and games foster engagement in classrooms, independent studies, and informal venues. Participants who develop or use these tools gain greater insight into the processes that influence the evolution of naturally occurring systems.
Opportunities for scholars
Scholars may receive competitive compensation for any of the following roles:
- Event organizers
- recruit and host the annual consulting guest speaker for an audience of ~400 and document scholarly results.
- work with students to prepare and present quarterly student faculty special events associated with Dark Matter Day, Darwin Day, and/or Earth Day featuring original thematic content and document any scholarly results.
- Summer intern mentors supervise summer interns to create original thematic content for special events, poster presentations, hands-on activities, outdoor programs, professional workshops, and/or the evolution website.
- Project leaders collaborate with others to create original thematic content for the website and/or for academic natural science courses and informal natural science programs, using system models, simulations, and/or animations.
Qualifications for student interns and scholars
- Students seeking internships should be pursuing a STEM degree and be interested in science education.
- Scholars applying for part-time employment should have an interest in science education and a degree in physics, astronomy, astrophysics, Earth and planetary sciences, marine science, life sciences, or other natural sciences.
- MS or PhD in physics, astronomy, astrophysics, any of the Earth, planetary, or life sciences
- Expertise in the composition, structure, and evolutionary history of the Earth and/or universe
- Experience as a natural science teacher and/or informal science educator
- Affiliation with a UC or CSU campus
- Ability to visit San Luis Obispo as needed
Scholars are responsible for advancing the mission of the cosmic evolution project. Scholars should have general knowledge of the composition, structure, processes, and evolutionary history of the Earth or the universe.
For more information, contact project founder Bob Field at firstname.lastname@example.org or CESAME director Chance Hoellwarth at email@example.com. To apply for paid part-time work as a project leader, event organizer, mentor, or intern, please contact Jenny Cruz at firstname.lastname@example.org or (805) 756-2859.
Additional discussion of possible uses of funds
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Scholarly projects shall emphasize calculus-based and/or science-driven advanced undergraduate courses, special problems, senior projects, quarterly earn-by-doing projects, summer research, workshops, seminars, and/or online learning. Projects may enhance scientific literacy in natural science and mathematics. Projects may involve the origin, evolution, diversity, abundance, and distribution of materials and processes in each cosmic evolution domain. Interdisciplinary studies may involve astrophysics, Earth and planetary sciences, geophysics, oceanography, atmospheric physics, biogeochemistry, microbial ecology, cell biology, biochemistry, and astrobiology.
Project materials are available at the website currently named https://evolution.calpoly.edu to promote global access to user-friendly, organized, thematic digital educational resources and to resources available elsewhere in any form or format. Educational resources include published works, works in progress, collections of physical objects that may be useful in a classroom, books, journals, online links, experimental and observational tools, and experts on campus and off. Resources help specialists and non-specialists add advanced content and cross-disciplinary content to their educational projects. Systems analysis focuses on the big picture that is often lost in an age of specialization and powerful personal computers have made numerical analysis highly accessible, affordable, and portable. Analysis promotes critical thinking, goes beyond hand waving explanations, and promotes the use of digital technology. It promotes cross-disciplinary studies, mathematics, reading, literature search, and writing skills.
The current effort is based primarily on volunteer efforts. Funds may support scholars who create and organize education materials, do secondary research, and prepare course and project materials that emphasize the role of physical, chemical, and biological evolution in natural systems. Funds may also support other activities necessary to accomplish the project goals. Products may include lectures, special events, animations, simulations, NetLogo models and educational games, readings, course readers, homework, test materials, Excel and Mathcad math models, system analyses, graphs and tables, evolutionary timelines, and other project resources for advanced undergraduate courses including 200 and 400 series special problems, summer research, senior projects, and advanced topics courses. The 2006 Physics 470 Advanced Topics in Solar and Global Evolution course materials may be helpful and the resources at www.works.bepress.com/rfield.
Advanced undergraduate courses and student projects in the natural sciences serve relatively small student populations. Historically, this has led to a scarcity of educational resources, training, and preparation time for teachers. Resource-starved upper division elective courses often cover subjects that change more rapidly than available textbooks. Unlike the digital commons, this project provides frequent updates to a widely accessible, user-friendly website for works in progress. The project also provides opportunities to develop novel educational approaches or apply proven methods to new material. Educational resources may benefit non-calculus courses, middle school and high school teachers and students, and informal science education.
Products may include poster displays, exhibits, digital media, websites, lectures, wikis, and other resources supporting academic and/or informal science education. The Academy shall retain exclusive rights to work that it creates or acquires, but should strive to make its products accessible online and via brief quarterly reports to the fund manager.
Our project explores the following elements:
1 - universe timeline – click to expand or collapse
13.7 billion year logarithmic timeline of the sequence of events associated with the origin and evolution of the universe including the diversity, abundance, and distribution of particles, stars, and galaxies.
2 - solar system timeline – click to expand or collapse
five billion year logarithmic timeline of the sequence of events associated with the origin and evolution of our solar system including the Sun and planets and the diversity, abundance, and distribution of matter and energy in the solar system
3 - planet Earth timeline – click to expand or collapse
five billion year linear timeline of the sequence of events associated with the formation and evolution of planet Earth's interior and its geobiosphere which includes the lithosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere, and biosphere
4 - brains and tools timeline – click to expand or collapse
3.4 billion year reverse order logarithmic timeline of the sequence of events associated with the building blocks of brains and tools include the evolution of brains from neurons and the subsequent capacity to make and use tools to extend the ability of animals to explore and control their environment.
video: what is cosmic evolution and who cares – click to expand or collapse
The integrated high school curriculum developed by the SETI Institute and others defines cosmic evolution in six steps, cosmic evolution, planetary evolution, origin of life, evolution of life, hominid evolution, and evolution of technology. Harvard's Eric Chaisson describes eight epochs of cosmic evolution: particulate, galactic, stellar, planetary, chemical, biological, cultural, and future. Our approach condenses these eight epochs into four domains: universe, solar system, Earth and geobiosphere, and brains and tools. This video highlights many of the professional works that have influenced our project. We suggest using full 1080 HD setting and full screen. Below the video is a partial list of reasons to create and maintain a cosmic evolution project website.
video: Why create and maintain a Cosmic Evolution Project Website?
repository for highly detailed educational material
flexible formats – texts, math models, graphics, animation
continuous development and revision
easy to share with students and peer reviewers
resource for future projects and grant proposals
worldwide audience of students, teachers, science fans
previous cosmic evolution projects at Cal Poly – click to expand or collapse
This video shows a few webpages and lecture flyers associated with previous projects, mostly related to the solar system, the Earth, and the geobiosphere. We suggest using full 1080 HD setting and full screen. Below the video is a partial list of past projects.
here is a partial list of past solar and global evolution projects
natural history lectures – origin and diversity of life, climate change, Father Sun, etc.
state park walks: Exploring Evolution in museums and state parks
CCSP teacher talks plus discovery of Dr. Art’s Guide to Planet Earth book
outreach programs at many local venues
student summer projects energy flow in the Earth, Sun, Jupiter,
LANL solar evolution code and Guzik physics colloquium
PHYS 463 – 464 senior projects
PHYS, ASTR, BIOL 200 / 400 - Earth, Sun, Jupiter, Venus, universe, geobiosphere, etc.
Advanced Topics PHYS 470 - Solar and Global Evolution
Ocean Science Quest tabloid newspaper poster display
Osher lifelong learning course: Ocean Science Quest
Darwin in the Garden poster display and Leaning Pine walking tour
Scholars Talks: Carbon and Climate, Venus: One Helluva Planet, Life on an Evolving Planet, Violent Birth of Mother Earth, Darwin in the Garden
Physics Colloquia: Structure and Evolution of the Sun, Structure and Evolution of the solid Earth, Ocean Science Quest, Darwin Bicentennial: Geologist and Naturalist
rfield faculty webpages includes dozens of pages and downloads
CCC proposal and NSF informal science education proposal NHOPE
and now part of the
Cal Poly COSAM Cosmic Evolution Project website and YouTube channel