Legislative Tools for Science Teachers

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The Oklahoma Legislature begins it’s 55th regular session next week.  Here are some popular links and resources that you might find handy at some point during the next 4 months until adjournment at the end of May:

Aren’t sure who to contact?  Find your House Representative or Senator here:

 http://www.oklegislature.gov/findmylegislature.aspx

The House Common Education Committee is found here:

http://www.okhouse.gov/Committees/CommitteeMembers.aspx?CommID=255&SubCommID=0&clientHeight=633&clientWidth=1220

The Senate Education Committee is found here:

http://www.oksenate.gov/Committees/standingcommittees.aspx

On the legislature website you can track and find the text of bills, find committee members, and even set up automatic notification of action on bills as they progress through the process.

http://www.oklegislature.gov

The process whereby a bill becomes law can be VERY confusing.  A roadmap to the process can be found here:

http://www.okhouse.gov/Information/CourseOfBills.aspx

Another site you might find useful is Legiscan, which tracks legislation and features some interesting search and browse features.

https://legiscan.com/OK

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HB 1537 Introduced to Re-Write Science Standards (Again)

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District 25 (Pontotoc county) Representative Todd Thompsen has introduced legislation that, if passed, would re-write Science Standards for the 3rd time in 5 years. HB 1537 modifies the law from last year that scrapped the Common Core and mandated new College and Career Ready standards for ELA and Math to include Science.  This is despite the year’s-long efforts of K-20 educators, parents, industry leaders, research scientists and college professors to develop the Oklahoma Academic Standards for Science that were enacted in June of last year.

The essential portion of the bill is:

  1. In addition to the requirements set forth in subsection A of this section, on or before August 1, 2017, the State Board of Education shall adopt subject matter standards for Science which are college- and career-ready and will replace the current standards. The meaning of college- and career-ready shall be the same as set forth in subsection B of this section.

Stay tuned…

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Antiscience Bill Filed in Oklahoma Senate (Again)

(Based on information from the National Center for Science Education with additional information from Oklahomans for Excellence in Science Education)

Senate Bill 665 (document), styled the Oklahoma Science Education Act, is the third antiscience bill of the year. (Read about the VERY similar bills filed in Montana, and Indiana here). SB 665 would, if enacted, in effect encourage science teachers with idiosyncratic opinions to teach anything they pleased — proponents of creationism and climate change denial are the usual intended beneficiaries of such bills — and discourage responsible educational authorities from intervening. No scientific topics are specifically identified as controversial, but the fact that the sole sponsor of SB 665 is Josh Brecheen (R-District 6), who introduced similar legislation that directly targeted evolution in previous legislative sessions, is suggestive.

SB 665 would require state and local educational authorities to “assist teachers to find effective ways to present the science curriculum as it addresses scientific controversies” and permit teachers to “help students understand, analyze, critique and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories covered in the course being taught”; it would prevent such authorities from “prohibit[ing] any teacher in a public school district in this state from helping students understand, analyze, critique and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and weaknesses of existing scientific theories covered in the course being taught.”

In late 2010, Brecheen announced his intention to file antievolution legislation in the Durant Daily Democrat (December 19, 2010): “Renowned scientists now asserting that evolution is laden with errors are being ignored. … Using your tax dollars to teach the unknown, without disclosing the entire scientific findings[,] is incomplete and unacceptable.” In a later column in the newspaper (December 24, 2010), he indicated that his intention was to have creationism presented as scientifically credible, writing, “I have introduced legislation requiring every publically funded Oklahoma school to teach the debate of creation vs. evolution using the known science, even that which conflicts with Darwin’s religion.”

What Brecheen in fact introduced in 2011, Senate Bill 554, combined a version of the now familiar “academic freedom” language — referring to “the scientific strengths [and] scientific weaknesses of controversial topics … [which] include but are not limited to biological origins of life and biological evolution” — with a directive for the state board of education to adopt “standards and curricula” that echo the flawed portions of the state science standards adopted in Texas in 2009 with respect to the nature of science and evolution. SB 554 died in committee. In 2012, Brecheen took a new tack with Senate Bill 1742, modeled in part on the so-called Louisiana Science Education Act; SB 1742 likewise died in committee.

In 2013, Brecheen modified his approach again. Senate Bill 758 followed the lead of Tennessee’s “monkey law” (as it was nicknamed by House Speaker Emeritus Jimmy Naifeh), enacted (as Tenn. Code Ann. 49-6-1030) over the protests of the state’s scientific and educational communities in 2012. The major difference is that SB 758 omitted the monkey law’s statement of legislative findings, which cites “biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, and human cloning” as among the topics that “can cause controversy” when taught in the science classroom of the public schools. The bill died in the Senate Education Committee.

In 2014, Brecheen introduced the virtually identical SB 1765. Like SB 758, it died in the Senate Education Committee, but not before eliciting opposition from the American Institute of Biological Sciences, which described the bill as “bad for science and bad for science education,” and the National Association of Biology Teachers, which warned that it “could easily permit non-science based discussions of ‘strengths and weaknesses’ to take place in science classrooms, confusing students about the nature of science.” Since Brecheen’s latest effort, SB 665, is virtually identical to SB 758 in 2013 and SB 1765 in 2014, it is sure to provoke a similar reaction.

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An analysis of SB 665 has been written by OU Biology Professor Richard Broughton. Read “Why SB 665 by Brecheen is a Bad Law” here.

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Yellowstone Science Course for Educators

Yellowstone Course Flyer (2015)

Oklahoma State University will host a new travel course, Yellowstone Science for Educators. During the first three days of this two week course graduate (CIED 5280) and undergraduate (CIED 4560) students will hear presentations from top scientists regarding the science of Yellowstone (i.e. extremophiles, plate tectonics, deforestation due to natural causes, ecological impacts of specie introduction, etc.). Then we head to Yellowstone National Park to experience the scientific wonders of this majestic place. In addition to course readings, students will develop a standards-based lesson addressing the science of Yellowstone. Application Deadline is March 9th 2015 with a limit of 15 students. For more information contact Dr. Julie Angle at Julie.angle@okstate.edu or Vallory Vencill at vallory.vencill@okstate.edu.  Download fliers: Yellowstone 2015 tear away, Yellowstone Course Flyer (2015).

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NASA Oklahoma Space Grant Johnson Space Center Trip for Educators

JSC Flyer-2There are only have 18 slots available which will fill fast!  Slots are filled on a first come, first serve basis based on completed registration packets turned into the Oklahoma Space Grant Consortium office.  The deadline for completed registration packets to be received in our state office will be at 5PM on February 28th.  If they should have any questions or to receive a registration packet, they can contact Dorinda Risenhoover via e-mail (DorOKSG@ou.edu).

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Evolution Road Trip: Past and Present in Oklahoma and Texas

Second Oklahoma Evolution Road Trip

Dr. Stan Rice and Dr. Gordon Eggleton

Oklahoma Scholar Leadership Enrichment Program

March 16-20, 2015

University of Oklahoma Biological Station, Lake Texoma

This year, the road trip will be an upper-level college course open to all Oklahoma undergraduates. All information is or will be available on the OSLEP web site (http://www.oslep.org). For an overview of the course, see http://oslep.org/Rice. The course syllabus will be posted shortly; a draft syllabus is available upon request from Dr. Stan Rice (srice@se.edu). Each campus has a local OSLEP coordinator who will arrange student registration (http://oslep.org/campus_contacts). This course will give students an opportunity to explore evolutionary concepts for themselves and to see fossils, dinosaur footprints, and a creationist museum. The textbook will be available online.

Oklahoma and Texas are renowned for a lot of things, but two of them are creationism and the abundance of evidence for evolution. That is, the very places where creationism is strongest are the places with some of the best field evidence of evolution. This class, based at the University of Oklahoma Biological Station at Lake Texoma, will explore the outdoors of southern Oklahoma and north-central Texas for evidence of evolution in living creatures, geology, and fossils. The class will also visit museums to learn about natural history, as well as ideologically-driven views of natural history. On this trip, let’s go learn and talk about both creationism and the field evidence for evolution.

Reading provided by OSLEP

Photo of Stan Rice

Dr. Stanley Rice has published four popular science books, two of them about evolution (www.stanleyrice.com). He is professor of biological sciences at Southeastern Oklahoma State University, where he began teaching in 1998. Stan is the president-elect of both Oklahomans for Excellence in Science Education and the Oklahoma Academy of Sciences. Also participating will be geologist Dr. Gordon Eggleton, professor emeritus at Southeastern Oklahoma State University. Gordon led field trips to all of the locations that we will visit. Dr. Rice can tell you about most of the things that are alive, and Dr. Eggleton can tell you about most of the things that are dead.

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OKC Zoo Career Conference February 21

2015 Zoo Career Conference Flyer

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MMITM 2015

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NSTA Middle Level Director Patty McGinnis is organizing the share-a-thon for the annual Meet Me in the Middle Day for middle school teachers on Friday, March 13 from 2:00-4:00 p.m. at this year’s NSTA Conference in Chicago. This is is your opportunity to present any lesson idea, teaching strategy, or resource that you feel would be valuable to middle school teachers. Registration for the Share-a-Thon can be found at tinyurl.com/MMITM2015

JOIN US for what is sure to be an inspiring day dedicated to meeting the unique needs of middle school science educators!

Here’s the full Meet Me in the Middle Day schedule:

10:00-10:15 
Welcome by NMLSTA President Todd Hoover and
NSTA Middle Level Science Teaching Division Director Patty McGinnis

10:15-10:45 a.m.
Safety Acknowledgement Forms: Legally Protecting You!
~Presented by Ken Roy, Science Scope Columnist

Engineering to the Standard
~Presented by Susan German

The Dead Zone
~Presented by Liz Martinez, Middle School Teacher

Round Table Discussion for Middle School Educators, Session A
~A variety of topics will be available for your choosing
Location: McCormick Place, S404bc

11:00-11:30 a.m.
Everyday Engineering
~Presented by Dick Moyer, Author of NSTA’s Everyday Engineering

The NSTA Learning Center: Free Professional Development Resources and Opportunities for Educators
~Presented by Flavio Mendez, NSTA

Tearing Down the Wall: How to Build Better Partnerships with Your Administrator
Presented by Zoe Evans, Principal

Round Table Discussion for Middle School Educators, Session B
~A variety of topics will be available for your choosing
Location: McCormick Place, S404bc

Lunch Break

12:30-1:00 p.m.
Data Literacy in the Middle School Years
~Presented by Michael Bowen, Author of NSTA’s The Basics of Data Literacy

What the NGSS Means to a Middle School Teacher
~Presented by Ken Huff, NGSS Writing Team and Middle School Teacher

Science Formative Assessment: What Do Middle School Students Really Think?
Presented by Page Keeley and Joyce Tugel, author of NSTA’s Uncovering Student Ideas series

Around the World with Eratosthenes
~Presented by Nicolas Nicastro, Author of Circumference

1:15-1:45 p.m.
Merging Literacies in the Middle Grades
~Presented by Christine Royce, Author of NSTA’s Teaching Science Through Trade Books

The Envelope Please…Science Projects that Pop!
~Presented by Dinah Zike, Dinah Zike Foldables

Practical Lessons and Demonstrations on a Budget
~Presented by Kathy Brooks, Consultant and Retired Middle School Teacher

Engineering Practice in Middle School Chemistry
~Presented by Jim Kessler, American Chemical Society

2:00-4:00 p.m.
NMLSTA-NSTA Middle Level Share-a-Thon featuring over 100 presenters! Join us for fun, learning, and door prizes!
Grand Prize is an i-Pad
Location: McCormick Place, Vista/S406a

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OMRF Teen Leaders in Philanthropy

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The Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation (OMRF) announces that applications are online NOW for our philanthropic leadership program for Oklahoma high school students: “OMRF Teen Leaders in Philanthropy:  Philanthropy Is in Your DNA”.

The program is open to high school applicants who will be entering their sophomore, junior, or senior year in the fall of 2015. 

This is the first program of its kind designed to educate Oklahoma youth about the non-profit profession, how non-profits work, and how teens can be philanthropists who work alongside non-profits in identifying community issues and achieving creative solutions.  With the ever-growing importance of non-profit organizations in our community, it is imperative that we educate the next generation about how they can become philanthropists and be real partners with non-profit organizations.  While using OMRF’s biomedical research mission as a backdrop to illustrate the importance of philanthropy, the focus will be on philanthropic leadership.   

Students will learn leadership principles, earn service hours, and gain experience in a fundraising project of their own design. The program will meet monthly alternating between day and evening sessions throughout the school year. 

OMRF invites Oklahoma students to apply and up to 40 students will be chosen through a selective process that includes an interview. 

Applications and further information are available online at www.omrf.org/teen. The application deadline is March 2, 2015

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Junior Science and Humanities Symposium – March 6-7 at OSU

2015 JSHS Save the Datehttp://education.okstate.edu/oknjshs

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