Archive for July, 2007

Best practice with an integrated curriculum?

Tuesday, July 31st, 2007

Forget “teach the controversy.” That’s so old-school. Apparently, a new strategy is out concerning getting anti-evolution/creationism into the public school classroom. The following was passed along to the FCS membership from a teacher organization as a heads-up. If I understand correctly, a teacher was considering “teaching the controversy” when presented with an approach couched by the writer as “best practice with an integrated curriculum.” (Errors in the below-quoted were in the original.)

1. Show students the difference in Philosophies between Evolution and Creation. BOTH start with a philosophical premise. Work with an integrated curriculum. Its best practice now anyway. Evolution (vs. evolutionists) says matter and energy are all that there is. Creation starts with a God or possibility of a God.

2. Both use the evidence and facts but come to different macro conclusions.

3. Distinguish between what is sometimes referred to as marco evolution and micro evolution.

4. Show the difference between operational science (observing, repeat,.etc)vs. historical or origin science (? can we recreate and measure, say , the Big Bang? ….) Show inferences vs objectively observed facts. Inference may/may not be bad….

5. Dive into theistic evolution as well as the differences btwn. old earth and young earth creationists.

6. Assuming Christianity/Bible is what may relate to creationism, bring in science to this: Examine the Bible in light of archeology, its bibliographical evidences of texts/manuscripts, mathematics/statistics of prophecies. GET KIDS to THINK within the sciences to the issues of RELIGION. Its ok. We, as teachers, can and should validate religion where is it valid (texts, ideas, morals, etc).

7. Break the misdefined word “faith” and phrase “science vs. religion”.

8. Read Books mentioned on both sides of the issue. Stereotyping of sides embarrasses me to no end. Unprofessional.

9. “all religions are the same”, “all evolutionists believe…” address these”

A number of points were brought up by some teachers and the FCS membership:

— Point number four in the above was pointed out as classic creation science apologetics. Yes, there are ways to measure evidence of the Big Bang. It seems that this list was made with the goal of getting students to distrust scientific knowledge. “The suggested actions are pure poison so far as actually teaching students science is concerned.” (Wesley Elsberry)

— “Of course it’s creationism. If the question is How to teach high school biology, and the answer is about “Philosophies” and the expanding universe aka big bang, it’s creationism. No, biology isn’t based on any special premise other than the scientific method. No, biology is not about whether matter and energy and space and time are all there is anywhere. No, biologists don’t have a philosophical presupposition about this.” (FCS Board member Pete Dunkelberg)

— “There is philosophy involved in both creationism and science. Creationism starts with the answer: “God did it”. Young earth creationism would say the answer is in the bible: earth 6000 years old, Flood geology, etc. and then uses some science and facts to support that view. It also ignores anything that dies not fit the conclusion they started with or it makes some facts up. Science on the other hand starts with the questions: How does this work? or How did this happen?. Then it uses all of the facts and reason to find the answer. Philosophy science tries to answer the questions of nature by using only nature.” (FCS President Joe Wolf)

— “This is very much the approach of presuppositional apologetics, with the vocabulary sanitized for the public school classroom. Fortunately, it doesn’t appear sanitized enough.” (Henry Neufeld, who also has a blog post related to this subject.)

— “We should be aware of the buzz words “best practices and an integrated curriculum” and calling teachers “unprofessional” and “evolutionists” for opposing these practices.” (Mary Bahr)

UF professor hits the road with Darwin

Monday, July 30th, 2007

A University of Florida professor has been honored with the title “visiting scholar” and will be touring campuses giving lectures about Darwin. The talks will apparently be open to the public.

A University of Florida professor is preparing to become a “road warrior,” heading across the U.S. to preach the “gospel” of Charles Darwin.

Betty Smocovitis, a professor of zoology and history at UF, will visit eight universities next year to give lectures on Darwin, the renowned – and sometimes maligned – evolutionary biologist.

Smocovitis’ travels will coincide with the bicentennial of Darwin’s birthday and the 150th anniversary of the publication of his groundbreaking book, “On the Origin of the Species.”

Fully aware that Darwin is a controversial figure, particularly among Christian conservatives, Smocovitis admits to stirring things up a bit by titling her lecture “The Gospel of Darwin.” But Smocovitis says her own beliefs on the origins of life, and Darwin himself, have nothing to do with what she’ll talk about.

“I’m a historian,” she said. “I am not a theologian, not a biologist. I try not to get into my beliefs. That’s irrelevant.”

Also see the UF press release.

Scuba Scouts

Sunday, July 29th, 2007

This looks like an awesome project for teens! How exciting is this?

Imagine diving 6,000 feet under the ocean’s surface in a submersible to bear witness as a new island is born.

Then climbing more than 13,700 feet to the summit of a million-year-old dormant volcano.

At the top, you’re treated to an up-close look at the vast universe beyond, through one of the world’s most powerful telescopes.

That’s exactly what a group of scientists from the Tampa Bay area will do in October at Mauna Kea on Hawaii’s Big Island. Operation: Deep Climb is the joint venture of an impressive gathering of scientists.

And some of them haven’t even entered high school yet. It’s all made possible by SCUBAnauts International, a science organization for 12- to 18-year-olds.

More information at Scubanauts International.

Learn to teach evolution

Sunday, July 29th, 2007

NCSE’s Education Project Director Louise Mead will be teaching a course on teaching evolution, on-line through Montana State University, from September 17 to December 7, 2007.

Montana State University course description.

FCS now tax exempt

Sunday, July 29th, 2007

A message from FCS president Joe Wolf:

We are now officially a 501(c)(3) tax exempt charitable organization.  The
effective date for this is Feb. 28, 2006.  We can now accept tax exempt

Congratulations everyone.

Math helps students in college science

Friday, July 27th, 2007

An interesting study suggests that the most important thing in high school that could help students in college science courses is math. Specific science courses taken in hgh school helped in that same subject in college, but didn’t translate over to other science subjects. For instance, high school biology helped with college biology, but not with physics or chemistry. What did have an impact overall was math. The more math taken in high school, the better students did in all the college sciences.

Science educators debate the effect of the order in which students take science courses. Since the 1890s biology has tended to come first, followed by chemistry and then physics.

Some educators argue that physics should be taught earlier because it will help students understand the other two science areas; others say having chemistry first will help in learning biology.

But in this study neither was the case.

“The most important thing for high school science teachers is to make sure there is lots of math in whatever science course they teach,” Sadler said. “Math is so important in college science.”

Who will be voted off first?

Wednesday, July 25th, 2007

I’ve noticed a bit of a mean streak in the slowly growing coverage of the search for Florida’s next education commissioner. An opinion piece slices and dices Jeb Bush’s education legacy (and coolly dropped in a mention of creationism in Yecke’s past). A news piece makes of point of how few people have applied for the job. Another opinion piece advises the Education Board to take the selection process seriously and restore some integrity. Get the popcorn ready, this ought to be fun.

Candidate pool not much bigger

Tuesday, July 24th, 2007

The deadline to apply for State Education Commissioner was extended so that a bigger pool of applicants could be obtained. Well, one person apparently dropped out and only two others signed up. This Orlando Sentinel education blog post says that a few more people might have slipped in at the last minute, though. We’ll see what’s up soon enough.

Log in here to check out the list of applicants yourself.