HHMI Educator Tips | The Biology of Skin Color


I use BioInteractive material in my upper-level
undergraduate courses. They bring alive what my students
are learning in class, while explicitly addressing
the science of discovery. The short film,
“The Biology of Skin Color,” discusses the evidences for natural selective mechanisms
for skin color. The video takes us
through an understanding of the physiology
of skin color, UV light, the genetics of skin color, and the regulation
of the MC1R gene. Dr. Nina Jablonski tells us the story of how all these factors led to the evolution
of skin color, while explicitly demonstrating
the nature of science. The story demonstrates
how tweaking a foundational hypothesis leads to another question, producing a second hypothesis, which raised even more questions… and when those were explored, how it deepened the understanding of the first hypothesis. As they watch the video,
I have my students examine how science was accomplished. I ask them to think about
how questions were developed from the well-formed hypotheses based on previous research, and how those questions
were refined. This film is a great way
to show my students how science is always moving forward.

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