Archive for July, 2009

Goodbye Dinosaur Adventure Land?

Friday, July 31st, 2009

The Pensacola News Journal reports that Kent “Dr. Dino” Hovind’s Dinosaur Adventure Land might go extinct courtesy of the IRS.

A ruling this week says the nine properties that make up Dinosaur Adventure Land, and two bank accounts associated with the park will be used to satisfy $430,400 in restitution owed to the federal government.

Kent Hovind, who founded the park and his ministry, Creation Science Evangelism, is serving 10 years in federal prison as a result of a tax-fraud conviction for failing to pay more than $470,000 in employee taxes in a long-running dispute with the Internal Revenue Service.

h/t NCSE.

This n That

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

— First of all, anyone know what this site is saying about our Stick Science Contest? I ran it through Google translator, but still couldn’t figure it out.

— Here’s a sad story about nature doing its thing, no matter what we humans do about it.

— Now here is a quote that ought to make many a science teacher shake his or her head: “I like actually doing science,” 13-year-old Tavonna Bell said. “We don’t really do it in school.”

— For those who’ve been waiting for the ultimate patience sport, try the Tour de Turtles. Here’s the official website. Actually, it’s a cute and cool way to get the public involved in science and conservation.

— Florida science teacher Wendy Shelden is one of only 100 nationwide to win the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering. “It’s overwhelming that a little, insignificant teacher like me is going to meet the president.”

— YMCA Junior Marine Biology Summer Camp offers youngsters ages 10 to 15 a unique learning experience through hands-on exploration of Florida’s marine life, ecology, coastal sciences and the environment.

— The SciGirls program gets quite a bit of good press. Here’s the latest story.

“With girls, middle school is where we lose girls in science. They don’t take the necessary classes and by the time they finish they are already behind,” Hughes said. “This program shows them they can do it, it’s just a matter of preparation and realizing they can do it at a young age.”

— We’ve run across Mr. Kemple before during our fight over evolution in the science standards. He’s back. Evolution opponent says church-state separation is ‘lie’.

— Tallahassee’s Resident Astronaut says kids are not as interested in math and science as they once were.

Science Cafe, Orlando

Monday, July 27th, 2009

Science Cafe, Orlando is hosting a meeting next week. Should be interesting.

Climate Change: The Science and the Skeptics
Presenter: Snow, Richard & Mary
When: Wednesday, 5 August 2009 7:00pm – 9:30pm
Where: 717 W. Smith Street, Orlando

Since civilization began some 6000 years ago, the mean temperature of Earth has not varied more than 1°C from the average. The change in temperature of between 1.5 and 4°C (2.7 to 7°F), forecasted for the next hundred years, has no equal in the recent history of the planet. Several natural phenomena do contribute to climate change and most of the past changes in climate can be explained by a combination of them. However, none of these natural phenomena, individually or collectively, explain today’s rapid climate changes. In the short (in terms of geologic time) period that people have inhabited Earth, we have brought about massive changes in the environment, which have had a significant impact on Earth’s climate. Dr. Richard Snow and Dr. Mary Snow examine the evidence and effects of climate change as well as the well-orchestrated attempt to create controversy and disseminate misinformation regarding global warming.

Blast from the past

Saturday, July 25th, 2009

Things have been rather slow around here, thus the dearth of updated blog posts. So, I thought I would share with y’all some old documents I’ve been scanning in as part of my research into the history of creationism in Florida. Enjoy! All files are pdf.

I’ve written quite a bit about retired Rev. Winslow and his efforts to combat evolution in the public schools back in the 1970s and 1980s. Here is a letter of his from October 1975 to the Hillsborough County schools superintendent. “As chairman of the Committee for Creationism in Education, I would like to have the privilege of explaining our objective involving an adjustment in education throughout the state.” And here is another letter from December 1979 that includes his “The Supreme Court Approves Teaching Historic Creation” resolution. Take note of how the organization changed from the Committee for Creationism in Education in 1975 to the Compatriots for Academic Freedom in 1979. Does that change have a familiar ring to it?

Apparently, the Orange County school district had a brush with creationism in 1977. Anyone know about this? If so, please contact me and fill me in; I know nothing about it other than this letter from August 1977 from the American Humanist Association responding to the school district’s science program coordinator who wanted to know the organization’s stance.

And here is a letter from the executive secretary of the Florida Foundation for Future Scientists in January 1980. The FFFS was asked to provide a statement about creationism/evolution, but such a request is “outside the charter” so the writer instead issued a statement “speaking as a scientific professional.”

I’ve got a ton more of these documents, and I’ll feed more to ya as I get the time. And, as always, if you know any details about any of this stuff and would care to share, please contact me!

“Controversial Issues Workshop” an Overview

Thursday, July 16th, 2009

There has already been several posts by Brandon regarding the Controversial Issues Workshop,however, I felt that a summery of all the events would be appropriate. First, I would like to thank Larry Plank who is the Hillsborough County Schools Science Supervisor, for the time and energy he expended in organizing this event.It takes a great deal of effort to organize a workshop and Larry did an outstanding job.  I would like to thank all the teachers and educators who gave of their time to attend, showing their desire to understand the various controversies and grow as better teachers and educators.  I wish to thank the FCS who provided five of the main presenters, Joe Wolf, Brandon Haught, Kathy Savage, Debra Walker and myself. We were well received and very much appreciated by all concerned for our efforts. Those in attendance were thirsty for answers and kept our speakers engaged way beyond their scheduled time limits. And, of course, it was an honor to have NCSE’s Josh Rosenau on hand to give a presentation and offer his insight. Here’s the schedule of events if you want to see the full lineup of presentations.

In all,even considering the less than accurate TV coverage, the workshop was a unmitigated success, for the school district,for the Florida Citizens for Science, but most of all and most importantly,for the students who will reap the benefits of a well informed group of teachers.

Interesting note about state university system chancellor finalist

Tuesday, July 14th, 2009

This editorial in the Palm Beach Post discusses various qualities of some candidates being considered for the job of chancellor of the state university system. One of those folks is Florida Atlantic University President Frank Brogan. The articles says of him:

But the system would be getting a leader who as education commissioner stressed charter schools and vouchers over public schools and said this of creationism: “We understand that evolution is a widely accepted theory. I think there is another belief out there, and it can be taught.”

Grossly misleading story

Tuesday, July 14th, 2009

The Fox News station in Tampa probably meant well, but they went about doing this story about the Controversial Issues Workshop going on this week all wrong. I mean really wrong.

Florida science teaching standards didn’t allow the word “evolution” to be used.

Instead teachers had to say the phrase, “biological change over time.”

But that’s about to change.

In the journalism school that’s called an error in fact and would get serious points taken off of the student’s work. Teachers were certainly allowed to say evolution. It’s just that the standards didn’t use the word and didn’t emphasis the concept. The new state science standards now make evolution one of the “big ideas” in biology.

Once the story moves on past that horribly misleading opening the rest of it is OK. There were a lot of positive comments and no stupid false “balance.” The story even goes so far as to state as fact:

Subjects that are not science, like creationism, will not be taught in schools.

Outstanding!

Man set foot on the moon

Tuesday, July 14th, 2009

At least that is what the New York Times wants you to believe. 😉 I love it when there is a Florida tie.

Mark Fenster, a professor at the University of Florida Levin College of Law who has written extensively on conspiracy theories, said he sees similarities between people who argue that the Moon landings never happened and those who insist that the 9/11 attacks were planned by the government and that President Obama’s birth certificate is fake: at the core, he said, is a polarization so profound that people end up with an unshakable belief that those in power “simply can’t be trusted.”

And here is why groups like Florida Citizens for Science exist:

Harrison Schmitt, the pilot of the lunar lander during the last Apollo mission and later a United States senator, said in an interview that the poor state of the nation’s schools has had predictable results. “If people decide they’re going to deny the facts of history and the facts of science and technology, there’s not much you can do with them,” he said.

“For most of them, I just feel sorry that we failed in their education.”