Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial

Expand/Collapse Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial


In 2004, parents and teachers from Dover, PA filed suit in federal court against a school board policy that required biology teachers to present intelligent design as an alternative scientific theory to evolution. The plaintiffs sought to prove that the intention behind the board's policy—to reject evolution and advance a religious agenda—was unconstitutional. These media resources and lesson plan, based on the NOVA program "Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial," address some common misperceptions concerning the very meaning of "theory" in science and feature compelling evidence in support of evolution. Also check out the Teacher's Guide for this NOVA program and the professional development course for teachers.

  • Tiktaalik: Evolution of a "Fishapod"

    In this media-rich lesson, students learn about transitional fossils and explore the similarities and differences between the structures of different animals. They focus particularly on Tiktaalik, a transitional fossil between aquatic and terrestrial vertebrates.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Human Chromosome 2

    This video segment from NOVA: "Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial" reveals how genetic evidence helped to confirm an important component of Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection: the common ancestry of humans and apes. In particular, it explains that humans have one fewer chromosome pair in their cells than apes, due to a mutation found in chromosome number 2 that caused two chromosomes to fuse into one.

    This video is available in both English and Spanish audio, along with corresponding closed captions.

    Grades: 6-12
  • Transitional Tetrapod Fossil

    In this video segment from NOVA: "Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial," paleontologist Neil Shubin recounts a fossil discovery that added another compelling piece to the body of evidence that supports evolution. Shubin's find of a well-preserved skeleton, a "fishapod," represents a transitional fossil. Transitional fossils help scientists bridge gaps in the tree of life, resulting in a picture of gradual evolution over millions of years.

    This video is available in both English and Spanish audio, along with corresponding closed captions.

    Grades: 6-12
  • What Is a Theory?

    In these audio interviews from NOVA Online, Barbara Forrest, a philosophy professor, and paleontologist Kevin Padian address the basis of a general misunderstanding of what a scientific theory is. Although it may be defined as just a hunch in everyday language, a theory in science is an explanation strengthened by a large body of evidence. Theories including evolution theory, germ theory, and gravitation theory have stood the test of time in the face of rigorous testing, evaluation, and revision.

    Grades: 6-12

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