Avida-ED Home Page



AVIDA-ED 3.0 (Beta)









Announcing 2017 Active LENS Workshops

- June 21-23 - Univ of Washington -
- July 27-29 - Michigan State University

NEW NOW ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS for instructors to learn to use Avida-ED in their courses for active learning of evolution and the nature of science. Click here for more information, including the on-line application form. [Note: the July MSU workshop overlaps with BioQUEST, making it possible for participants to attend both.]
Deadline for applications: EXTENDED. Spaces are filling up fast, especially for the June workshop, but we will still be accepting applications on a rolling basis until April 10th. Please visit https://avida-ed.beacon-center.org/active-lens-train-the-trainers-2017-edition/ to apply.

Avida-ED 3.0 BETA Released - June 18, 2016

NEWA beta version of the next major version of Avida-ED was released June 18, 2016 at the national Evolution 2016 conference. The new version works across all major operating systems by running in the browser.

Visit the Avida-ED 3.0 BETA release access page, which has a link to the application served from our site, and also installer packages for both MacOS and Windows. The platform-specific installers set up a local web server on your machine and launch an instance of Avida-ED Web 3.0 in your default browser.

If you have trouble with the above link, visit the Avida-ED 3.0 BETA release access page mirror.

You can also get a copy of the updated Avida-ED lab book here.

Active LENS 2016 workshop participants

- The second national Avida-ED Active LENS Workshop for faculty was held June 9-11, 2016 at Lyman Briggs College and the BEACON Center for the Study of Evolution in Action here at MSU. [Photo: Wesley Elsberry]

Avida-ED logo

Avida-ED is an award-winning educational application developed at Michigan State University for undergraduate biology courses to help students learn about evolution and scientific method by allowing them to design and perform experiments to test hypotheses about evolutionary mechanisms using evolving digital organisms.


Avida-ED 2.0


• August 11, 2016: Avida-ED 3.0: Experimental Evolution, Now in the Browser. BEACON Center Congress. Michigan State University.

• August 9, 2016: Active LENS Congress for 2015 Workshop Participants. BEACON Center for the Study of Evolution in Action. Michigan State University.

• August 8, 2016: Avida-ED Workshop for High School Biology Instructors. BEACON Center for the Study of Evolution in Action. Michigan State University.

• July 29, 2016: NEW PUBLICATION - James J Smith; Wendy R Johnson; Amy M Lark; Louise S Mead; Michael J Wiser, Robert T. Pennock “An Avida-ED digital evolution curriculum for undergraduate biology"  Evolution: Education and Outreach (2016, 9(1), 1-11; DOI 10.1186/s12052-016-0060-0). Open access link.

• July 4, 2016: Michael Wiser. Conference Tutorial: "AVIDA-ED: Avida-ED, a tool for teaching a classroom research." ALife XV. Cancun, Mexico.

• June 28, 2016: Amy Lark. Conference Workshop: "Engaging Students in Authentic Science Research Teacher Institute" Michigan Technological University, Houghton, MI.

• June 20, 2016: Jim Smith & Cory Kohn. Conference Workshop: "Avida-ED: An artificial life platform for teaching evolutionary principles and how to "do" science." 2016 National Academies Special Topics Summer Institute on Quantitative Biology. North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC.

• June 18, 2016: Michael Wiser, Cory Kohn, Louise Mead, James Smith, Robert T. Pennock. "Comparing Human and Machine Learning Scoring of Open-Ended Responses About Natural Selection" Evolution 2016. Austin, TX.

• June 18, 2016: Robert T. Pennock, Charles Ofria, Diane Blackwood, Matt Rupp. “Avida-ED 3.0: The Digital Evolution Education Platform, Now in the Browser.” Evolution 2016. Austin, TX.



The following representative comments are taken from interviews with instructors
in a national study of classroom use of Avida-ED.

- “I want students to be engaged in something that is their own. [Avida-ED gives them] the opportunity to go in and interact with the process. … We can play out fairly complex relationships in a short amount of time. … The flexibility allows the students to have a much richer experience than some of the other kinds of labs that you see people doing.” – Small University Professor

- “We have run real-time evolution experiments with microbes, however, there is no other system that allows students to focus on the most important aspects of experimental science (hypothesis generation, experiment design/implementation/re-design/analysis, etc.) than Avida-ED.  Avida-ED allows the students to concentrate on the "thinking" parts of experimental science as opposed to the "doing" parts.” – Research University Professor

- "Avida-ED is the only tool out there students can use to explore the dynamics of evolution. It allows them to see an active model of evolution and understand what a mechanism is." – HBCU Professor

- “I liked the idea of [Avida-ED] being more open ended, so I could say I want you to define a question and see if you can explore it in this environment. That was different from a lot of the other computer-based [educational software] that were geared to teaching a particular fact about the model or microevolution or whatever.” - Research University Professor, upper division course

- “For me it was having the students work with something hands-on rather than giving them a case study that we were telling them about. They could do something with it.” – Lab Instructor in Residential College

- "Avida-ED makes me think that people are capable of understanding [evolution]. I have rejected what most people say, that most people aren’t going to get this, the general population can’t get this, it’s too hard. And [I say], no, the general population isn’t getting this because we’re not giving them experiences like Avida-ED.” - High School AP Biology Teacher

Avida-ED picture in Science World Globe Avida-ED Excellence Award in Interdisciplinary Scholarship 2012
Avida-ED is discussed in the 10 Feb. 2006 issue of Science. Avida-ED has been used in biology classes in universities and colleges such as Arizona State, Cornell, Grinnel, Harvard, North Carolina A&T, Univ. of Texas, Univ. of Washington, Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison and many more. Avida-ED won the 2012 Excellence Award in Interdisciplinary Scholarship given by the MSU Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society.

Page updated 2017/3/20
© Robert T. Pennock