Archive for November, 2009

Florida end-of-course exams

Friday, November 27th, 2009

The Orlando Sentinel has a story up about Florida’s attempt to introduce end-of-course exams. Paul Cottle’s efforts on behalf of science education are mentioned:

About 100 Florida science professors think Florida isn’t doing enough if a biology exam is the only end-of-course science exam it plans. Earlier this year, the group of professors sent a letter and issued a paper to state leaders, urging them to develop a comprehensive series of end-of-course exams in science.

“Rigorous science education is the driver that will transform Florida into a modern economic powerhouse,” the professors wrote.

Replacing the 11th-grade FCAT science exam with just a biology test will mean high schools will feel no pressure to teach chemistry, earth and space sciences or physics, the professors wrote.

More news on Comfort’s trash

Friday, November 20th, 2009

A Christian publication called Chrisma ran a lazy article about the book distribution. The publication couldn’t be bothered with, oh, I don’t know, maybe going out and actually reporting by talking to folks at the targeted schools. No, the “reporter” just pulls some goofy crap off Comfort’s own website and that’s it.

The Independent Florida Alligator, UF’s campus paper, also had a brief story about the book distribution.

Florida students are pretty much last in the nation for science

Thursday, November 19th, 2009

Last in the nation. That’s one of the “take home” points made in a slide show created by the Florida Department of Education and obtained by they Orlando Sentinel’s School Zone education blog. To see the 55-slide presentation, head over to the School Zone blog and click on the link there.

Slide #3 shows how ready Florida students are for college in the core academic subjects. Science is the short bar on the far right. Looks kinda pitiful next to those other subjects, doesn’t it?

State of Science Achievement in Florida starts on slide 29.

Slide 30 shows how Florida ranks in science achievement compared to other states using NAEP, ACT and AP assessments. Overall, Florida looks bad, espcially in the ACT where our state rank is 49. The next slide shows where Florida stands using the same assessments in the other core subjects. The contrast between science and the other subjects is striking.

Slide 33 shows just how dismal FCAT science scores are. Florida students are “less than 50% proficient at all three grade levels in 2009.”

Slide 37 compares percentages of students achieving level 5 (the highest level) on the FCAT in reading, math and science. Wow … just, wow!

And there it is on the last content slide: “Florida students are pretty much last in the nation for science.” We can only hope that the words “pretty much” won’t be removed from that sentence in the next few years.

Comfort’s trash makes the news

Thursday, November 19th, 2009

Darwin book with creationist spin passed out at Univ. of Florida.  Some of the reactions were priceless:

“I just said, ‘OK, have a good day’ and walked away.”

“It was very confusing because I thought it was a Charles Darwin book and it ended up being propaganda.”

And the bit about distributing the books early: “avoiding some protests planned over Comfort’s views.” What protest? This one?

… the group [NCSE] was encouraging people to avoid confrontation and allow the book to be distributed.

Overall, this took on the appearance of a comedy routine rather than an educational campaign. Should we have expected anything different?

Becoming Human Part 3

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

The last episode in the “Nova” series “Becoming Human” airs tonight. In “Last Human Standing,” NOVA examines the fate of the Neanderthals, our European cousins who died out as modern humans spread from Africa into Europe during the Ice Age.  “Last Human Standing” examines why “we” survived while those other ancestral cousins died out. And it explores the provocative question: In what ways are we still evolving today?

This n that

Friday, November 13th, 2009

Florida Race to the Top ideas include science end of course exams.

Science teacher fired over sexual “Florida got excited” remark.

Digital Atlas of Marine Species & Locations, a 1st-of-its-kind database, unveiled this week at NSTA Convention.

Free Science Friday seminar at Northwest Fl State College “Fossil Hominins – Evidence for Human Evolution” Nov 20.

Get good grades, get in free at the Orlando Science Center. Student gets an A in math or science & gets in for free.

Florida State Univ professor in charge of “Operation Dead Zone”

North Miami Beach science teacher has colorful take on teaching.

Tampa science teachers featured in article about NSTA conference in FL. Help kids speak science.

Students “on edge of their seats” as ID advocate William Dembski spoke at The Baptist College of Floridain Graceville

“It’s really important to me to show them that science is fun. So many of the younger students are afraid of science.”

Ten Questions to Ask Your Biology Teacher About Intelligent Design

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

A few years ago, Jonathan Wells came up with his 10 questions to ask your biology teacher — they were largely drawn from his book “Icons of Evolution” and were promptly rebutted by the NCSE. Now Dembski and some guy named Sean McDowell have a new list of Ten Questions to Ask Your Biology Teacher About Intelligent Design.

However it would appear that these questions are not so new after all,it seems that Wesley Elsberry answered them way back in 2005.  So nothing new from the ID camp, just the same worn out objections that have been rejected time and time again.

Hat tip to PZ Myers at Pharyngula


Nova Series “Becoming Human” Part Two Updated

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

Nova’s new three part special “Becoming Human” part two airs tonight.  Part 2. “Birth of Humanity”, profiles the early species of humans. In “Birth of Humanity,” the second part of the three-part series “Becoming Human,” NOVA investigates the first skeleton that really looks like us–”Turkana Boy”–an astonishingly complete specimen of Homo erectus found by the famous Leakey team in Kenya.

I have just watched the above program (which I thought was better than the first instalment) and notice this new information. Nova has a new web site dedicated to Evolution which includes a great section for teacher resources