I did not know anything about evolution for a very long time. I liked biology but missed the beauty and logic of physics in it. Only when I learned about evolutionary principles, I stopped seeing biology as a collection of random interesting facts but discovered the logical world full of connections and consequences that led to the amazing complexity of the natural world that surrounds us.
I want to share this experience with other people, especially students from Slovakia where evolution is not part of the biology curricula. Therefore, I direct my outreach to Slovak high-school students, working in collaboration with my sister Kristína with whom I share this interest. Together, we have developed several outreach activities shown below.
STEB is an international seminar series and competition in evolutionary biology for high school students. The seminar started with the help of ESEB Outreach grant in 2017, then received several other grants and donations. Since its conception, more than 600 students have participated in the project, which is now running for the fifth year.
Virus Alert in Stayhompton
At the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, we decided to modify one of the activities from our STEB series to highlight the importance of social distancing. Together with the IST Austria outreach group and scientists from Max Planck Institute, we developed a board game for school children aged 12 and up called “Virus Alert in Stayhompton”. Thousands of copies of this game were distributed across Austria, Germany, and Slovakia. In Slovakia, Kristina and I organized a crowd-funding campaign to distribute the game freely to teachers. The game is available for free download in German, English, and Slovak language.
Collection of evolutionary activities
Kristína, as a teacher, lacked the material to teach evolution at her high school. This inspired her to develop her own. Together, we have created a collection of activities that we self-published as a book with support from ESEB. The books were distributed across Slovakia for free to interested teachers.
The collection of activities in the Slovak language is designed for secondary school teachers and contains 22 activities aimed at developing evolutionary thinking that can be used in the classroom. Brief methodological notes for the teacher are provided for each activity with copying materials, as well as worksheets for students.
In English, some of the activities are here.
Evolution of dragons board game
Evolutionary principles can be taught at different levels, even at ones that are accessible to little kids. Together with IST Austria, I co-developed a broad game called Breeding of dragons, that has been used during Open Campus day at IST Austria to demonstrate basic genetic and evolutionary mechanisms.