Learning evolution and the nature of science using evolutionary computing and artificial life

Because evolution in natural systems happens so slowly, it is dif- ficult to design inquiry-based labs where students can experiment and observe evolution in the way they can when studying other phenomena. New research in evolutionary computation and artificial life provides a solution to this problem. This paper describes a new A-Life software environment – Avida-ED – in which undergraduate students can test evolutionary hypotheses directly using digital organisms that evolve on their own through the very mechanisms that Darwin discovered.
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