What Came First-- Sponges or Ctenophores?

By Natasha Fraley On Shape of Life, we present sponges as the first animals. But recently several scientists make a case for ctenophores (common name comb jelly) being the first animal.  As of today scientists still don’t agree on the issue. This is an example of “science in action” where new research and technologies call into question long held science. This is basically how science works. The evolving nature of science will have a major influence on science teaching in the classroom. 

A Cool Summer Adventure: BURGESS SHALE!

By Nancy Burnett, Founder of Shape of Life

While working on the original PBS Shape of Life series, I learned about the discovery of fossil animals that first appeared during the Cambrian Explosion. When I realized that the most famous Cambrian site is in the Burgess Shale of British Columbia, I knew I had to visit it. 

There are now several sites where the Burgess Shale can be accessed. The original fossil sites, the Walcott Quarry and Mt. Stephens, are very long hikes. So, when my friend Burt told me there’s a new site that’s an easy hike, I was ready to go. The site is at Stanley Glacier, in Kootenay National Park, British Columbia, just a two-day drive from where we were. After driving through a lot of smoke from wildfires, we arrived in Radium Hot Springs, at the gate to the park. The next day we woke to a beautiful day – the smoke cleared by a rainstorm.

Is Personalized Learning depersonalizing the wonder of our natural world?

At time when investors and philanthropists are sinking tons of moola into Edtech, (growing from $75bn in 2014 to $120bn in 2019!), and development in adaptive learning, voice recognition, and machine learning is growing off-the-hook— I wonder what the long-term effect will be on the cultivation of life skills. You know, things like hooking a worm onto your fishing line.

Nothing can replace a tactile, personal relationship with the natural world...

The Seven Noble Truths About Our Oceans

“If you think the ocean isn't important, imagine Earth without it. Mars comes to mind. No ocean, no life support system.” Sylvia Earle


The ocean covers 71 percent of our planet. Ocean scientists, educators and policy specialists came together to define ocean literacy and to create seven principles.

‘Ocean literacy is defined as an understanding of the ocean’s influence on you and your influence on the ocean.’ 

Here are the seven ocean literacy principles....