Experimental Evolution in the Classroom: The Active LENS Project

PI Name
Robert Pennock

Presentation Type

Additional Abstract:

Avida-ED Evolution in Action: Software, Curriculum and Faculty Development

Robert T. Pennock, Michigan State University Richard Lenski, Michigan State University Louise Mead, Michigan State University Charles Ofria, Michigan State University Jim Smith, Michigan State University

Avida-ED is an educational software application that is based on an research platform that allows experimental evolution using evolving artificial life forms. Implementing a novel platform for classroom use requires not only the development of the technology itself, but also associated curricular materials as well as faculty expertise.


Among its various goals, the Active LENS Project aims to develop Avida-ED by adding major features that have been among those most requested by instructors; developing and test model exercises, lesson plans and instructor support materials; and providing training to faculty.


To solve the ongoing problem of cross-platform usability, we are recoding the software so that it will run in a browser instead of as a stand-alone application. We have also developed a lab book and successfully used it in the classroom. We have also held the first of an annual series of intensive Train-the-Trainer faculty development workshops.


We will demonstrate a Beta version of the new software; show material from our lab book; and discuss the progress from our inaugural Active LENS workshop.

Broader Impacts

We will also summarize our other dissemination efforts to date and plans for the future.