Archive for October, 2012

Revisionaries movie showing in Sarasota

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

The Revisionaries, the documentary about the battles over evolution education at the Texas state board of education, will be playing at the Sarasota Film Society’s 23rd Annual Cine-World Film Festival (flip to page 26 in the book). The screenings will be at noon on November 9 and at 2:00 p.m. on November 11, at Burns Court Cinemas and/or Lakewood Ranch Cinemas (the website is unclear as to the exact venue) in Sarasota.

A description of the film: “Once in a decade, the 15 members of the Texas State Board of Education meet in Austin to revise the textbook standards for five million schoolchildren. Led by Don McLeroy, a Young-Earth Creationist and Evangelical Christian, the panel implements standards that will ultimately go into effect in science and history textbooks for schoolchildren across the nation. The Revisionaries is a galvanizing peek behind the curtain at the politicization of education.”

Short 10.28.12 This & That

Sunday, October 28th, 2012

— Florida has STEM jobs, but not grads to fill them: “Despite the [large number of job] openings and [Gov.] Scott’s commitment to bring similar so-called STEM jobs to the state, Florida universities aren’t coming close to graduating enough students to fill them.” Also, Bridge to Tomorrow notes that Gov. Scott’s education agenda is missing something important.

Science Olympiad is a nationally recognized science competition for middle and high school students that is fully correlated to the Next Generation Science Sunshine State Standards. All of our events are team based, interactive, and include strong authentic assessment.  Students engage in pre-build engineering events, laboratory experiments, and research activities that provide a strong foundation for a future career in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

Schools are allowed to enter as many 15-member teams as they would like.  Each team competes in 23 different events that are as diverse as Rotor Egg Drop, Forensics, Forestry, Maglev, and Experimental Design. Common among the events is the fact that the students have fun and are motivated to learn science!

Hillsborough school board election in the spotlight

Sunday, October 21st, 2012

A runoff election for a spot on the Hillsborough County School Board is an interesting one. Carol Kurdell is facing off against a person well known to us here at Florida Citizens for Science: creationist Terry Kemple. Hard-working insider, conservative with an agenda facing off in Hillsborough School Board race:

Carol Kurdell, who joined the board before most of the district’s students were born, faces Terry Kemple, a conservative activist who is not shy about stumping on social issues.

When asked about creationism and evolution, he laughed. “That’s not something that can be controlled by local School Boards,” he said.

But, he added, “the fact that the state requires us to teach that evolution is the be-all and end-all is a travesty.” He said believing in evolution requires just as much faith as religious teachings.

Recent campaign contribution reports show Kurdell has raised $28,000, about half what Kemple has collected.

Much of Kurdell’s funding comes from leaders in the local teacher’s union — which endorsed her — and other labor organizations.

Kemple’s donors include leaders in the Tampa 9/12 Project and the local tea party, along with individuals and businesses in eastern Hillsborough County. The reports show Kemple spending four times as much as Kurdell.

What do you think Kemple’s chances are?

Darwin a write-in candidate in GA

Thursday, October 18th, 2012

ATLANTA — Having denounced evolution as a lie “straight from the pit of hell,” Republican Rep. Paul Broun has won himself a new political opponent: Charles Darwin.

Now scientists are questioning whether Broun, a medical doctor and Baptist from Athens, should serve on the House Science, Space and Technology Committee if he rejects widely accepted scientific ideas. And a talk radio host in nearby Atlanta is trying to rally voters to cast write-in votes for Darwin, the English naturalist who first published his theory of evolution in 1859. …

A Facebook page titled “Darwin for Congress” went up Oct. 8 urging supporters to take a stand against Broun. As of Tuesday it had just 45 “likes” — less than half the membership of a similar Facebook group calling for Broun’s ouster from the House science committee.

As of this post, the likes are up to 614. Here’s the Facebook page. What a catchy campaign slogan: Evolve!

10.17.12 This & That

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012

— Researcher advocates ‘student-centered’ approach to science education:

A group of educational researchers at Florida State University are drawing widespread attention after their paper measuring the superior results of a more “student-centered” approach to teaching science was published in the pre-eminent journal Science. …

“By many measures, the United States is not making much, if any, progress in science and math learning,” said Granger, who is director of Florida State’s Office of Science Teaching Activities and co-director of FSU-Teach.

— This is sad and deeply frustrating. This person is a science teacher?! Really? At least he’s not in Florida (I hope!) Global Warming Debate: I am a Science Teacher Who Teaches Both Sides of the Issue.

The students are too smart to believe the nonsense that their uncle was a monkey swinging from the trees, he lived on green bananas, and his arms swung to his knees. While some of them did not realize until I informed them that evolutionists say we came from apes, it is good to know that the shoving of evolution down the throats of school-aged children has not worked after all; at least not in my public school district.

FCAT science and Biology end of course … public input

Monday, October 15th, 2012

There are two public input workshops coming up during which you can give your opinion on how the new science FCAT and Biology end of course exams (and Geometry) are scored. You can go to Tallahassee tomorrow or West Palm Beach on Thursday. (h/t Sentinel School Zone.)

In September, the Florida Department of Education invited educators, business and community leaders, and higher education representatives to participate in establishing new achievement level standards as Florida moves forward with Biology I and Geometry End-of Course assessments, and the FCAT 2.0 Science assessment (grades 5 and 8).

The next step is a series of rule development workshops to get public input.

10.13.12 This & That

Saturday, October 13th, 2012

UCF receives $1.8 million for new program to encourage students to study math, science: “The UCF program aims to recruit students partly by offering some freshmen a course that will introduce them to a variety of STEM-related careers. Students who take the class, which will be offered for free to those who have been invited to enroll, will earn three credits for it.”

Huge eyeball from unknown creature washes ashore on Florida beach: “Taking his usual morning stroll along the surf in Pompano Beach, Gino Covacci noticed a strange ball-like object at the high tide line. He kicked it over and found himself staring at the biggest eyeball he had ever seen.”

Orange biology teacher wins president’s award for environmental educators: “Deborah Wasylik, a longtime biology teacher at Dr. Phillips High School, has been chosen as one of 18 top national environmental educators by the United States Environmental Protection Agency.”

An unusual collaboration between researchers in two disparate fields at the University of Florida resulted in a new discovery about the teeth of 65-million-year-old dinosaurs: “Just a decade ago, a paleontologist might not have asked engineers for help, and they could not have helped him. In the last 10 years, however, Sawyer said advances in engineering — tribology and nanoscience, in particular — make it possible to test more materials, even those millions of years old.”

10.8.12 This & That

Monday, October 8th, 2012

— Yup, I know. U.S. Representative from Georgia Paul Broun is on a science committee and yet denies basic science: “All that stuff I was taught about evolution and embryology and the Big Bang Theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of Hell,” he said. But did you know that he’s among like minds on that committee? Paul Broun’s not the only GOP member of the House Science Committee who’s a bit iffy on the whole science thing.

— Well, I guess that the Nobel Prize itself comes from hell: The Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet has today decided to award The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2012 jointly to John B. Gurdon and Shinya Yamanaka for the discovery that mature cells can be reprogrammed to become pluripotent.

— And some good news here in Florida: Future physicists in 7th, 8th and 9th grade tapped for new program, to get encouragement from profs at FSU, other schools. And here is the Future Physicists of Florida website.