Free Educational Resources Available on the HHMI website

HHMI is the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. It is a non-profit institution dedicated to supporting high quality research and education. They offer multiple resources, and here I will highlight some of the resources in regards to education. 

How to explain Evolution to your school kids?

Evolution is an interesting and fundamental biologic concept, but can perhaps be challenging to explain properly. HHMI has created a series of professional quality short videos (10-15 minutes) for use in schools. Furthermore, these films are provided for free: You can watch them through online streaming (see links below), or request free DVD's.

The short films are produced by the acclaimed producer Sarah Holt, and the narrator in these three films is the well-known evolutionary scientist Sean B. Carroll (who is also HHMI’s vice president for science education since 2010). The first three movies were presented for the first time at the National Association of Biology Teachers (NABT) annual meeting in 2011, and describe Evolution: 

"The Making of the Fittest" Trilogy of Short Films: 

"The Birth and Death of Genes - The Story of the Icefish":

Did you know that some fish do not have red blood? It has for a long time been assumed that all vertebrates have red blood, as red blood cells are crucial for transportation of oxygen. However, on a cold winter day in December 1927, the Norwegian marine biologist Ditlef Rustad pulled up a strange pale fish from the Antarctic ocean: a fish that had colorless blood! This fish, initially named "The Crocodile Fish", and later known as the Icefish, has since then been studied by several scientists, in order to elucidate the secret of how an animal can survive without red blood cells.

"Natural Selection and Adaptation - Pocket mice":

Smaller animals, like for instance mice, that are the targets of various predators, need to be able to hide in order to survive. One crucial trait is the ability to blend into the environment, for instant with fur color that is similar to the colors in its environment. But what happens if the environment suddenly change? In this short film, you learn how the Pocket Mouse adapted through natural selection to a changing environment after lava flow turned the otherwise light-colored desert floor into a dark black lava rock environment.

"Natural Selection in Humans - Sickle Cell Anemia":

Last, but not least, in this initial mini-series of evolution, we learn about natural selection in humans. A great example is provided with sickle cell anemia, and we follow patients, doctors and the scientist Dr. Tony Allison in exploring how this trait has survived during evolution.

You can watch these videos as live streaming through the above links, or you can request a free DVD copy here. This site also contains information about other educational material provided for free by HHMI. In relation to the above films, they have created extensive classroom material and handouts for use together with the films, including teachers material, student handouts, and student quiz. Please do remember to leave feedback to HHMI, so that they know that their website is helpful, as this will be important in the justification and maintenance of the HHMI educational program.

You can find more information about other excellent resources for teachers provided for free on the HHMI bio-interactive page. Check it out for yourself and explore!

Grants and Scholarships

In addition to the generous support of excellent and well-established scientific researchers throughout the US (see list of HHMI Investigators), HHMI also provides various Grants for Science Education. For instance, HHMI provides individual summer or one-year scholarships to encourage young undergraduate or graduate students to spend time in a high quality research lab.The programs might vary, so check their website for updated information, but here is one ongoing program that is currently listed:

The HHMI Medical Research Fellows Program provides the opportunity for medical, dental and veterinary students to spend a summer or a full year in the laboratory of well established HHMI investigators, to get real first-hand experience in academic biomedical research. 


This page is linked from:

9/1-2012: Free educational resources available on the HHMI website. 

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