Archive for March 5th, 2008

Some reporters are paying attention, and so is the DI

Wednesday, March 5th, 2008

Yup, the folks at the St. Petersburg Times have been scooping up all the information popping up on the blogs about the obvious motivations behind the creationism bills and piecing it together. The more exposure this gets, the better.

Religion has nothing to do with it?

Are critics of the state’s new science standards asking the rest of the public to take a leap of faith?

But it’s worth pointing out that both Storms and Hays are Baptist, and both make no bones about their strong religious backgrounds. Hays notes on his House website that he picked up the Christian Coalition Faith & Family Award in 2005 and 2006. And last month, Storms filed a bill (SB 2010) to create an “I Believe” license plate, which would feature a crucifix and send proceeds to Faith in Teaching, a group “dedicated to funding education in Florida’s faith based community.”

And it looks like the Discovery Institute is whining about being called on their bluff. Mr Crowther, we can read between the lines. We know what is up and so do the reporters in the stories you quoted. Your scary bound and gagged graphic accompanying that post is just one example of how over-the-top ridiculous your cover story is. Smelly crap, indeed!

Heading into the next semester

Wednesday, March 5th, 2008

For those of you who don’t know, I’m taking college courses in my free time with the future objective of becoming a science teacher. It’s a long, slow road I’m traveling, mainly because I have to keep my day job in order to keep the family fed and such. And I can’t complain about my job, as it’s a good, exciting one. So, I just try to cram in my studies whenever I can.

I recently finished up (and passed!) a semester that consisted of a biology course, a literature course, and an ethics course. This new semester I just started is strictly science. I’m taking another biology class and a chemistry class. One thing I’m really looking forward to is an online seminar that’s part of the biology class. The American Museum of Natural History hosts Seminars on Science on a regular basis. During my first biology class, I participated in the AMNH seminar Genetics, Genomics, and Genethics. It was an eye-opening experience as I learned about the history of genetics and the tangled knots of ethical concerns. For instance, your genome can be screened for serious medical conditions, which can help you prepare for the future. But what if your insurance company gets a hold of that information and thus raises rates or denies coverage?

Anyway, the AMNH seminar I am signed up for this time is Evolution. The seminar instructors will be Niles Eldredge (I bet many of you recognize that name. Are you jealous?) and Joel Cracraft. This should be fun and informative!

The college I “attend” is Western Governor’s University. It’s 100% online, kinda like Phoenix University and such. WGU is the only online university to offer a teaching program. I had attended some local colleges, but started running into problems with scheduling since my evening hours couldn’t always match up with needed, available courses. So, I shopped around for an alternative and discovered WGU. I checked with my local public school district to see if a degree from WGU would be good to go for teaching, and it is. There are some tradeoffs in attending college all online. I tend to feel very isolated and on my own. On the other hand, I can get the work done when I have the time; I’m not locked into any schedule.

With the classes all being online, I wind up doing a lot of work and reading based on Internet sources. Below, you’ll find a link dump of many of the sites I used during my first biology course. And as I venture forth through this semester’s classes and the AMNH seminar, I’ll try to remember to post other interesting links here.

The Open Door Web Site
The Biology Project
Energy in the Human Body
Cells Alive!
The Virtual Cell
The Virtual Biology Labs
The Biology Place
BioLogica Web Labs
Pea Soup
Learn.Genetics
Understanding Genetics
Understanding Evolution
PBS: Evolution
Biology in Motion
ActionBioscience: Intelligent Design?
Internet BioLabs
Synthetic Theory of Evolution
Island Biogeography and Evolution
The Virtual Fossil Museum
Genetics, A Conceptual Approach
Cool Science for Curious Kids
Bloody Character of Specific Immunity
Access Excellence Science Mystery
Shedd, The World’s Aquarium: Interactives
Sustainable Measures
BiologyMad
Australian Museum: Sea Slug Forum
Physical Geography
The Field Museum: Project E.R.
NOVA Teachers 

Science makes kids smile? Who knew?

Wednesday, March 5th, 2008

Let’s take a time out and be positive for a bit. To succeed in this society we live in, we need to have a basic grasp of the science that drives all of our technology and medicine. So, it’s always a pleasure to read about school science programs that take the edge off of students’ fear of the subject. And it’s great to see how the teachers and parents work so hard to get it done, despite the inevitable obstacles.

Stinky cheese, bouncing eggs, dancing raisins and bubbles. – All, it turns out, can be the makings of something scientific.

For six weeks, 28 Cypress Elementary students got to try out those experiments and more as part of a free after-school science program.

That’s thanks to a $300 teaching grant from the Pasco County Education Foundation Inc., two enthusiastic teachers willing to put in some extra time and effort, and a spark from parent, volunteer and School Advisory Board member Pam Binder.

The lessons from the after-school Science Club also turned out to be far-reaching.

Robinson and Scherer said they each adapted some of the experiments for the students in their own classrooms.

“I think it made us better teachers,” Scherer said.”

Robinson noted that students in the club seemed especially hyped for the upcoming school Science Fair. “It sparked some enthusiasm for other projects.”

And take a look at those smiling kids in the pictures. If nothing else, those smiles make it all worth the effort.