“Your Inner Fish” Part 3

April 23rd, 2014 by Jonathan Smith

Part three of Neil Shubin’s three part series, Your Inner Fish, will air tonight on Wednesday April 23rd at 10: pm (EST) on your local Florida PBS station. This week’s program is titled “Your Inner monkey” and delves back into our primate past. Shubin travels from the badlands of Ethiopia, where the famous hominid skeletons “Lucy” and “Ardi” were found, to a forest canopy in our own state, Florida, home to modern primates. I’m sure this program will further fuel the ongoing debate about evolution and several bloggers on this site will find reasons to cross swords.

Teaching children that science is corrupt

April 19th, 2014 by Brandon Haught

Eileen Roy, an Alachua County School Board member, wrote an op-ed for the Gainesville Sun arguing against using state tax money to fund vouchers that go to bad science classes in some religious schools.

It is an irony that the mantra in Tallahassee is that we want our students to be educated in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) courses and to be prepared to compete in the global economy. Teaching children that science is corrupt is no way to equip them for the modern world and will cause them and society future harm.

How about we send Ms. Roy some messages of support for helping bring this issue to the public’s attention.

Going Ape in the news

April 19th, 2014 by Brandon Haught

A story about me and my new book was published in the Daytona Beach News Journal today. The piece also features quotes from Florida Citizens for Science president Jonathan Smith and Florida Family Policy Council president John Stemberger.

John Stemberger, president of the Orlando-based Florida Family Policy Council, said he doesn’t want teachers to skip the theory, but he wants them to point out its weaknesses, including the lack of fossils that show the arch of evolution. Teachers also should balance evolution with other theories, like intelligent design or the idea that an asteroid brought life to earth, he said.

“Our position is that evolution is a leading scientific theory, but it is a flawed theory and it should be taught with a critical analysis,” Stemberger said.

I try to emphasize that even though I have a strong opinion about the controversy, the book is neutral.

He said he feels it’s crucial for teachers to cover evolution, but don’t expect him to chronicle the history of Florida’s science instruction from that point of view.

“I was very, very careful to tell the story from a neutral standpoint,” Haught said.

“My book is about history, but it’s also about the present,” Haught said. “I think that’s very important for folks to get a feel for how it happened. This war is not over and it’s not going to be over for many years to come.”

Florida teacher reprimanded for teaching evolution?

April 18th, 2014 by Brandon Haught

Richard Dawkins recently visited Iowa and this story relates why he was there and what he said. One thing stood out to me, this quote:

“Calling it a scandal, he noted a Florida biology teacher was reprimanded by her superior for teaching evolution, after a parent complained.”

Can anyone help me with that. When and where did this reprimand happen?

This & That 4/16/14

April 16th, 2014 by Brandon Haught

– There will be a free screening of the documentary The Revisionaries on Tuesday, April 29th, 6 p.m., at the Peace Education and Action Center at 525 Kumquat Ct. Sarasota, FL 34236. Sponsored by: Americans United for Separation of Church & State, The Peace Education & Action Center, ACLU, the Center for Religious Tolerance, and the Humanists of Sarasota Bay.

– The Tallahassee Democrat published an op-ed I submitted about science education in voucher-accepting private schools: Science has a spot in voucher debates. I especially like the political cartoon that ran with it.

– I have now confirmed that I will be on the Marc Bernier radio show (WNDB, Daytona Beach) on April 29 at 5 p.m. When the time comes, you can listen live online at the show’s website.

– Duval schools seek more science, math teachers: “A new program in which Duval Schools and the University of North Florida attract and train new science and math teachers has too few takers, so officials are extending its deadline.”

“We want to get math and science teachers that stay in the classroom and become highly effective and don’t leave after one or two years.”

Merritt Island students work with NASA mentors to build tiny satellite:

“It means so much, it’s going to be so amazing,” said Briana Luthman, 17, looking forward to seeing the satellite she helped design and build launch in the Mojave Desert. “I can’t wait.”

STEM Superheroes Kickstart Next Phase of Work:

DuPont says inspiration hit them like Shazam’s lightning bolt while they waited in line one day at Disney World.

“One of us said “superheroes” and I think both of us started staring at the sky, and we’re in line and it’s really hot out and we’re like, ‘Wow, that’s a really good idea,’” DuPont says.  “Because superheroes are pinnacles of the society, they’re good citizens, they’re always trying to do the right thing, they use science and math all the time because they’re either super-powered so there’s something scientifically strange about them or sometimes you have superheroes that are just really good with technology, like Batman.”

“Your Inner Fish” Part 2

April 15th, 2014 by Jonathan Smith

Part two of Neil Shubin’s three part series, Your Inner Fish,will air on Wednesday April 16th at 10:pm (EST) on your local Florida PBS station. This weeks program is titled “Your Inner Reptile” and traces back our human traits such as skin,hair and teeth which evolved from early reptiles. Shubin has a natural wit and talent,turning this series into both an epic saga and a modern-day detective story.

Film Screening & Book Talk

April 14th, 2014 by Brandon Haught

You are invited to the advanced screening of the documentary Filthy Dreamers and a short talk by local author Brandon Haught on Saturday April 26. There will also be a question and answer session and a book signing. This is free and open to the public.

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Filthy Dreamers is a film about the passionate controversy that flared in the late 1920s about the teaching of evolution to women students at Florida State Women’s College. Nearly 100 years later, public figures and activists are still trying to control curriculum in the state’s public schools, colleges and universitites. This film’s goal is to educate and inform viewers about the long history of attempted censorship on school campuses statewide. The 30-minute documentary was produced by the combined efforts of the University of Central Florida School of Visual Arts and Design, UCF Department of History, UCF College of Arts and Humanities, and Burnett Honor College.

Brandon Haught is the author of Going Ape: Florida’s Battles over Evolution in the Classroom. Classroom lessons and textbook passages about evolution have launched several crusades against this “Un-American, Athesistic, Subversive and Communistic” subject for decades in the Sunshine State. Brandon’s book tells the engrossing stories about the passionate citizens and public figures who have been caught up in this long-running battle that started in the 1920s and rages with undimished strength today. Brandon was interviewed for Filthy Dreamers and will give a short talk expanding on the film’s theme after the screening.

WHERE
UCF Center for Emerging Media
500 West Livingston Street, Orlando, FL 32801

WHEN
Saturday April 26 at noon.

Light refreshements will be provided.

SPECIAL NOTE: You will need to print and bring with you the flyer available below. The flyer has a parking pass on it that you will need when you get to the venue. Place the parking pass in a clearly visible spot in your windshield.

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Finally in the conversation

April 9th, 2014 by Brandon Haught

The Tampa Bay Times has an editorial in today’s paper: Florida doesn’t need more vouchers. Among the many reasons cited against vouchers is this one.

Nor are voucher schools required to meet the same curriculum standards as public schools. Private schools don’t need to offer a breadth of courses and can forgo teaching some subjects, such as evolution, for example, even though evolution is a part of the state’s academic standards.

We don’t take a stance one way or the other on vouchers overall, but we are very happy that all of our hard work highlighting this important aspect of the debate is finally paying off. Nearly everyone has shrugged off this point about what’s being taught in private school science classes. Finally, it’s entering the conversation.

But we certainly can’t stop now! Keep on pushing, everyone.