NCSE Evolution and Climate Education Update – 12/5/14





“[T]he White House Office of Science & Technology Policy (OSTP) is
launching a new Climate Education and Literacy Initiative to help
connect American students and citizens with the best-available,
science-based information about climate change,” according to a
December 3, 2014, press release from the White House. And NCSE is

NCSE’s Mark McCaffrey applauded the new initiative. “Education,
training, and public awareness about the risks and possible responses
to climate change is vital,” he explained. “The Climate Education and
Literacy Initiative helps to amplify existing efforts, builds support
for new ones, and provides a solid foundation for further efforts.”

As part of the launch, a series of educational videos were released
highlighting key elements of the Essential Principles of Energy was
released. The videos were developed by the Department of Energy
together with the American Geosciences Institute and the National
Center for Science Education. Accompanying the videos are guides for
students and teachers.

Also highlighted in the press release were a new Action Fellowship
with the Alliance for Climate Education, new resources that will be
added to the digital collection of the Climate Literacy and Energy
Awareness Network, and a series of regional climate-science workshops
for educators that will be held by NOAA in 2015.

For the White House press release (PDF), visit:

For the Essential Principles of Energy videos, visit:


A federal court dismissed a creationist lawsuit seeking to prevent
Kansas from adopting the Next Generation Science Standards on the
grounds that doing so would “establish and endorse a non-theistic
religious worldview.” In a December 2, 2014, order in COPE et al. v.
Kansas State Board of Education et al., Judge Daniel D. Crabtree of
the United States District Court for the District of Kansas granted
the defendants’ motion to dismiss the case.

The complaint contended that the NGSS “seek to cause students to
embrace a non-theistic Worldview … by leading very young children to
ask ultimate questions about the cause and nature of life and the
universe … and then using a variety of deceptive devices and methods
that will lead them to answer the questions with only
materialistic/atheistic explanations.” Both the Big Bang and evolution
were emphasized as problematic.

Judge Crabtree’s decision did not address the content of the
complaint, instead finding that that the Kansas state board of
education and the Kansas state department of education enjoyed
Eleventh Amendment sovereign immunity against the suit and that the
plaintiffs lacked standing to assert any of their claims, failing to
establish any of the three relevant requirements for standing: injury,
causation, and addressability.

As NCSE previously reported, the lead plaintiff, COPE, Citizens for
Objective Public Education, is a new creationist organization, founded
in 2012, but its leaders and attorneys include people familiar from
previous attacks on evolution education across the country, such as
John H. Calvert of the Intelligent Design Network. The Kansas board of
education voted to adopt the NGSS in June 2013, and the lawsuit in
effect attempted to undo the decision.

NCSE’s Josh Rosenau, who dismissed the lawsuit as “silly” to the
Associated Press (September 26, 2013) when it was filed, expressed
satisfaction at the outcome. He predicted that even if the plaintiffs
had established standing, they would have lost the case: “They were
trying to say that anything not promoting their religion is promoting
some other religion, and that argument has been repeatedly rejected by
the courts.”

The NGSS have been adopted in twelve states — California, Delaware,
Kansas, Kentucky, Illinois, Maryland, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon,
Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington — plus the District of
Columbia. The treatment of evolution and climate science in the
standards occasionally provokes controversy (especially in Wyoming,
where the legislature derailed their adoption over climate science),
but COPE v. Kansas is the only lawsuit to have resulted.

For the order granting the motion to dismiss the case (PDF), visit:

For NCSE’s collection of documents from the case, visit:

And for NCSE’s previous coverage of events in Kansas, visit:


A new survey suggests that public attitudes toward religion and human
origins are more diverse and less confident than the Gallup findings
indicate. “It’s important to know that a large portion of the
population is unsure about their beliefs, and there is a large portion
of the population that doesn’t care,” Jonathan P. Hill told the
Atlantic (November 23, 2014), prior to the December 2, 2014, release
of the National Study of Religion & Human Origins.

“To help generate a better picture of the landscape of beliefs, the
NSRHO includes separate questions about human evolution, God’s
involvement, the manner in which God created, the existence of a
historical Adam and Eve, belief in literal 24-hour days of creation,
and the geological timeframe for the emergence or creation of humans,”
the report explains. Accordingly, there are varying ways in which to
parse the results.

If creationism is defined as involving denying human evolution and
affirming that God created humans, the study found that 37% of the
public are creationists and 29% are convinced (absolutely or very
certain) creationists. If creationism is defined as further requiring
that God miraculously created a historical pair of progenitors of the
entire human race, then 25% of the public are creationists and 22% are
convinced creationists.

Only 8% of the public are young-earth creationists, who accept that
the days of creation were literally twenty-four hour days and that
humans came into existence within the last 10,000 years. But the
report adds, “The remaining two-thirds of creationists do not take the
Old Earth view[,] however.” Rather, many “are simply unsure whether
the days of creation were literal, and they are especially unsure
about when humans first came into existence.”

As for theistic evolutionism, the report described it as less popular
than creationism: “Using the broadest categorization, respondents who
(a) believe in human evolution and (b) believe that God (or an
intelligent force) was somehow involved in the creation of humans, 16
percent of the population can be placed in this category. Furthermore,
only half of this group (8 percent) is very or absolutely certain of
both of these beliefs.”

Just 9% of the public are atheistic evolutionists (in the sense that
they deny that God was involved in human evolution, not necessarily in
the sense that they deny the existence of God). The remaining 39% of
the population is unsure (or holds “uncommon views (such as believing
that humans did not evolve from earlier species while simultaneously
believing that God had nothing to do with the emergence of humans”).

The survey also asked respondents to indicate whether having the right
beliefs about human origins was personally important to them: 42%
indicated that it was very or extremely important, with 63% of
creationists, 52% of atheistic evolutionists, 35% of theistic
evolutionists, and 23% of unsure respondents thinking so. These
respondents were also asked to explain why, and the report describes
their responses at length.

The Atlantic observed, “Even if people don’t personally care about
being right, they do seem to care a lot about what’s taught in science
classrooms, particularly in public schools,” and NCSE’s Josh Rosenau
suggested that creationists are particularly concerned about
evolution’s account of human origins. “Who are we as people? That’s
the question that they think evolution is answering. What does it mean
to be a person?”

The survey also investigated demography. The Atlantic summarizes,
“Hill found that religious belief was the strongest determinant of
people’s views on evolution — much more so than education,
socioeconomic status, age, political views, or region of the country.
More importantly, being part of a community where people had stated
opinions on evolution or creation, like a church, had a big impact on
people’s views.”

In a post for BioLogos’s blog (December 2, 2014) describing the study
and explaining the factors it found to be relevant to belief about
human origins, Hill wrote, “The most important takeaway here is that
individual theological beliefs, practices, and identities are
important, but they only become a reliable pathway to creationism or
atheistic evolutionism when paired with certain contexts or certain
other social identities.”

For the story in the Atlantic, visit:

For the report of the survey (PDF), visit:

For Hill’s post at BioLogos’s blog, visit:

And for NCSE’s collection of polls and surveys, visit:


NCSE is pleased to offer a free preview of Robert Henson’s The
Thinking Person’s Guide to Climate Change (American Meteorological
Society, 2014). The preview consists of chapter 14, “The Predicament:
What Would It Take to Fix Global Warming?” Henson writes, “The global
warming problem isn’t going to be solved tomorrow, next week, or next
year: we’re in this one for the long haul, and there clearly isn’t any
single solution.”

The publisher writes, “This fully illustrated reference for
nonscientists and scientists alike is an updated and expanded revision
of Robert Henson’s The Rough Guide to Climate Change, previously
published in the UK. It provides the most comprehensive, yet
accessible, overview of where climate science stands today,
acknowledging controversies but standing strong in its stance that the
climate is changing — and something needs to be done.”

For the preview of The Thinking Person’s Guide to Climate Change (PDF), visit:

For information about the book from its publisher, visit:


Have you been visiting NCSE’s blog, The Science League of America,
recently? If not, then you’ve missed:

* Glenn Branch examining the history of “lumpers and splitters”:

* Stephanie Keep discussing misconceptions about fossils:

* Mark McCaffrey pondering the Public Religion Research Institute’s
poll on climate:

And much more besides!

For The Science League of America, visit:

Thanks for reading. And don’t forget to visit NCSE’s website — – where you can always find the latest news on
evolution and climate education and threats to them.


Glenn Branch
Deputy Director
National Center for Science Education, Inc.
420 40th Street, Suite 2
Oakland, CA 94609-2509
510-601-7203 x303
fax: 510-601-7204



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Invitation To Participate in a Research Study

My name is Carrie Miller-DeBoer and I am a Ph.D. student in the Jeannine Rainbolt IMG_2165College of Education at the University of Oklahoma. I would like to invite you to participate in a research study to understand more about science educators’ beliefs in their ability to teach science writing. This study is part of my dissertation project and may help in the development of workshops and professional development designed to help science educators meet writing requirements in their classrooms and courses.

If you currently teach in the secondary (middle or high school) or post-secondary (college or university) level(s), you are eligible to participate in this study.

Participation is completely voluntary and all responses will remain confidential. There are no foreseeable risks nor direct benefits from participating in this study. Participation consists of a web-based survey that should take no longer than 30 minutes.

You may ask questions about the study at any time. If you have questions about the study you may contact me, Carrie Miller-DeBoer at, (405) 325-8879 or my advisor, Timothy Laubach at, (405) 325-1979.

If you wish to participate and are a SECONDARY-LEVEL TEACHER, please click on this link:

If you wish to participate and are a POST-SECONDARY-LEVEL INSTRUCTOR, please click on this link:

The OU IRB has approved the content of this message but not the method of distribution. The OU IRB has no authority to approve distribution by mass email. The University of Oklahoma is an equal opportunity institution.

Carrie Miller-DeBoer
(405) 325-8879


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Two Outstanding Programs from the American Physiological Society



The Six Star Science OT is a 10-month online professional development program that focuses on the three Dimensions in the Next Generation Science Standards: Scientific Practices; Cross Cutting Concepts (especially “Cause and Effect” and “Structure and Function”), and Core Ideas (Life Sciences) and on expanding teacher skills in three major areas: 1) Updating Teacher Content and Pedagogy Knowledge; 2) Understanding the Research Process; and 3) Applying Six Star Science in the Classroom.

Online Teacher (OT) Fellows participate in a dynamic and interactive virtual learning community that focuses on exploring effective teaching strategies, understanding the research process, and enhancing classroom materials.  Fellows receive a stipend for completion of their online work.  Application deadline: January 20, 2015


The Frontiers in Physiology Research Teacher Fellowship provides teachers an opportunity to work with a physiologist and develop critical leadership skills. Teachers experience biomedical research first-hand by working for 7-8 weeks in the summer in a research lab with an APS member in their geographic area, working online with fellow teachers to develop leadership skills, and learning how to share what they know with other teachers, students, researchers, and policymakers in both live and online settings. Like the OT program, the RCL program will include all three K-12 Standards Dimensions and the three major teacher skills areas outlined in the OT program, but in greater depth.  Fellows receive a stipend for completion of their online work and graduate credit will be available.  Application deadline:  January 20, 2015.

More info on both programs can be found at:

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OCTM Invites Science Teachers to Present


The Oklahoma Council of Teachers of Mathematics is now accepting speaker proposals for the 2015 OCTM Annual Conference. This is your opportunity to demonstrate what you are currently doing for mathematics and STEM education. The conference will be held at Oklahoma City Community College on June 12, 2015. Registration will begin at 8:00 a.m. with the first sessions beginning at 8:30 a.m. Note that speakers who have a current/active OCTM membership will have their registration fees for the conference waived.

Click HERE to download the Request for Proposal form.

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Special Savings From NABT


Phone:888-501-NABT | | email:

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TiffanyGram – 11.25.14

Greetings Science Educators!Tiffany's Pic

I hope the week finds you well and that you are all preparing for some much needed time off with the holiday nearing. I would like to apologize to everyone on the listserv. In my haste to forward information from the Oklahoma Educational Publishers Association, regarding the textbook caravan schedule, I sent out links that had errors in them. Below you will find a second attempt to convey the information I received last week.

Textbook Cycle Adoption Update:

The 2015 Approved Materials List, along with 2015 Caravan Schedule, can be located on the Oklahoma State Textbook Committee website . Once you go to the link look in the box labeled School District Information, the Approved Materials List is the first bullet in this box and the 2015 Caravan Schedule is the second bullet in the box.

If you have questions regarding anything related to the Textbook Adoption Cycle this year, contact Ms. Timmie Spangler, Director of Instructional Materials for the Oklahoma State Department of Education (405-521-3456) or

Oklahoma Science Standards Framework Project: APPLY TODAY

REMINDER: Applications Due: December 2, 2014


The Oklahoma State Department of Education is seeking science educators to participate in the development of the Oklahoma Science Standards Framework. The Oklahoma Science Standards Framework will provide educators with information and resources to develop curriculum aligned to the Oklahoma Academic Standards for Science. The framework will not serve as curriculum itself.  The Oklahoma Science Standards Framework will be modeled from a similar resource developed in Minnesota (the Minnesota Mathematics and Science Standards Framework).

  • Resources may include the following deliverables:
  • Classroom instructional suggestions and guidance
  • Sample lessons or lesson ideas
  • Classroom assessment suggestions (Formative and Summative)
  • Other deliverables as determined necessary.

Oklahoma educators will be selected through the process defined in the attached application to serve as Framework writers.


Oklahoma educators, selected through this application process, will be paid $4,500 ($642.85 monthly) for work to be completed from December 2014 thru June 2015. This fee includes all travel costs and other costs related to participating in the project. No other stipends or reimbursements will be made to participating educators for any reason.

Download the application to apply today! The applications are available in PDF and Word Format from the link above.

Science Standards Regional Workshops

Two new locations were added last week and there are still spaces available at the following locations:

  • December 11th -12th: Idabel – Kiamichi Technology Center
  • January 15th -16th: Sapulpa – Woodlawn Elementary
  • January 22nd-23rd: Durant – Kiamichi Technology Center
  • February 12th – 13th: Altus – Southwest Technology Center
  • February 17th -18th: Tahlequah – NSU University Center

Workshop Details, Registration, Dates and Locations:

To register for one of the workshops and to get directions to the workshops go to:

Resources Shared on #OKSci Facebook:

Check out the responses by other science educators to the questions below by joining the OKSci Facebook page

  1. Take a glimpse at this 2nd grade classroom exploring “States of Matter”. Q1: What do you notice about the role of the teacher and the roles of the students? Q2: How do these second graders argue from evidence? Q3: How are students prompted to explain how they know the solid changes to a liquid? Q4: What else did you pick up on that I missed?
  2. Science Talk Moves for facilitating small group and large group discussions. Q1: Are there other strategies you utilize for discussion in your classroom?…/Goals_and_Moves.cfm

  1. Reposting Newsela: This website is a great place to find articles about current science topics. You can also change the readability of the text for different grade spans! Q1: Has anyone ever utilized any of the articles off of this space? Q2: If so, how did you utilize it? Q3: If you’ve never used this site, how would you utilize any of the articles you see here in classroom instruction?

Educator Opportunities:

Summer Teaching Seminar:

The National WWII Museum is excited to announce a week-long professional development opportunity to take place in the summer of 2015 for middle school (5-8th grade) science teachers. Twenty eight teachers from across the country will come to New Orleans to experience hands-on how necessity, knowledge, perseverance and skill lead to inventions, innovation, and careers in STEM—just like in World War II.

This seminary is supported by a grant from the Northrop Grumman Foundation. Teachers will receive free room and board in New Orleans, a travel stipend, and all seminar materials free of charge.

We are looking for great young teachers nationwide, and the application period begins January 5th2015. Please visit  for more information and to signup for email updates. 

Stay Connected:

Social Media:
Twitter: @tiffanyneill
Facebook: #OKSci
Hashtags: #oksde #OKSci #OKSTEM
Sign Up for a Twitter account:
Accessing Archived Science Messages:
You can access Archived Science Messages I’ve sent out since March (Actually, you can view most of the TiffanyGram Science Messages since April of 2012) via the Oklahoma Science Teachers Association (OSTA) website Scroll down to see previous posts.
Science Listserv:
Please encourage others to register for the science listserv and pass along the following registration link:
Register for Science Listserv
As always, please feel free to contact me with any questions you may have and Happy Thanksgiving!
- Tiffany
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Final Call: For Schools and School Districts – Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP) Mission 8 to the International Space Station


A Community Engagement Model for Grade 5-14 Authentic STEM, Starting February 23, 2015

The National Center for Earth and Space Science Education and the Arthur C. Clarke Institute for Space Education invite schools, school districts, and community colleges to explore participation in Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP) Mission 8 to the International Space Station. This STEM education opportunity immerses grade 5-14 students across a community in an authentic, high visibility research experience, where student teams design and propose real microgravity experiments to fly in low Earth orbit on the International Space Station (ISS). The program nurtures ownership in learning, critical thinking, problem solving, navigation of an interdisciplinary landscape, teamwork, and communication skills – all reflective of the Next Generation Science Standards, and reflective of the skills needed by professional scientists and engineers.

Each community participating in SSEP is provided a real research asset – a flight certified, straightforward to use microgravity research mini-laboratory, and launch services to transport the mini-laboratory to ISS. It is a limited research asset given that the mini-laboratory can only contain a single student team designed microgravity experiment. An astronaut aboard ISS will conduct the experiment, and after a 6 to 12-week stay in orbit, the experiment will be returned safely to Earth for harvesting and analysis by the community’s student flight team.

Mirroring how professional researchers formally compete to obtain limited research assets, the participating community carries out a “call for proposals”. More specifically, the community conducts a local Flight Experiment Design Competition. First, a core group of the community’s STEM educators engage typically 200 students in a microgravity curriculum provided by the Center. The students are then separated into teams of typically 3-5 students per team, with each team vying for the community’s single flight experiment slot by designing, then formally proposing, a microgravity experiment in a science discipline of their choice. Their experiment design is constrained by the operation of the mini-laboratory, and flight operations to and from Low Earth Orbit. The competition is conducted through formal submission of real (but grade level appropriate) research proposals by the student teams – as is standard practice for professional researchers. A minimum of 40 flight experiment proposals are typically secured across a single community.

A formal 2-step proposal review process, mirroring professional review, will determine the community’s flight experiment. Content resources for teachers and students support foundational instruction on science in microgravity and experimental design. Additional programming leverages the experiment design competition to engage the community, embracing a Learning Community Model for STEM education. This includes a local art and design competition for a Mission Patch to accompany the flight experiment to Space Station. SSEP therefore provides for a community-wide STEAM experience.

TIME CRITICAL: all interested communities are asked to inquire by December 15, 2014; schools and districts need to assess interest with their staff and, if appropriate, move forward with an Implementation Plan. Communities must be aboard by February 16, 2015, for a 9-week experiment design phase February 23 to April 24, 2015, and flight experiment selection by May 28, 2015. Flight of the selected experiment to ISS is expected in Fall 2015.

Dr. Jeff Goldstein
SSEP Program Director
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Practical Importance of Human Evolution, a FREE Course from the University of Oklahoma



OU Associate Professor of Anthropology Cecil Lewis will be teaching a new open course this spring  entitled “The Practical Importance of Human Evolution”

This is an OU “Janux” online course, which means it is well crafted and features high production values.

And It’s FREE to anyone!!!

The course is also available for  university credit (1 credit class), in which case you’d need to formally register for the class at OU.

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Schools Asked to Join Mission to Introduce 100m Students to Computer Science


Computers are everywhere, but fewer schools teach computer science than 10 years ago. Girls and minorities are severely underrepresented. Good news is, we’re on our way to change this.

In one week last year, 15 million students tried computer science! Computer science was on homepages of Google, MSN, Yahoo! and Disney. President Obama, Shakira and Ashton Kutcher all kicked off the Hour of Code with videos. Over 100 partners came together to support this movement.

Now the Hour of Code movement is aiming for 100 million students.

 This is your chance to join in on the largest learning event in history: The Hour of Code, during Dec. 8-14.

The Hour of Code, organized by the nonprofit and over 100 others, is a statement that today’s generation of students are ready to learn critical skills for 21st century success. Please join us.

What is the Hour of Code?

The Hour of Code is a one-hour introduction to computer science, designed to demystify code and show that anybody can learn the basics. Check out the tutorials, and look out for new ones coming for the Hour of Code 2014.

When is the Hour of Code?

Anybody can host an Hour of Code anytime, but the grassroots campaign goal is for tens of millions of students to try an Hour of Code during December 8-14, 2014, in celebration of Computer Science Education Week. Is it one specific hour? No. You can do the Hour of Code anytime during this week. (And if you can’t do it during that week, do it the week before or after).

Why computer science?

Every student should have the opportunity to learn computer science. It helps nurture problem-solving skills, logic and creativity. By starting early, students will have a foundation for success in any 21st-century career path. See more stats on

How do I participate in the Hour of Code?

Sign up to host an Hour of Code event here and start planning. You can organize an Hour of Code event at your school or in your community — like in an extracurricular club, non-profit or at work. Or, just try it yourself when Dec. 8 arrives.

Who is behind the Hour of Code?

The Hour of Code is organized by, a public 501c3 non-profit dedicated to expanding participation in computer science by making it available in more schools, and increasing participation by women and underrepresented students of color. An unprecedented coalition of partners have come together to support the Hour of Code, too — including Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, Boys and Girls Clubs of America and the College Board.

I don’t know anything about coding. Can I still host an event?

Of course. Hour of Code activities are self-guided. All you have to do is try our current tutorials, pick the tutorial you want, and pick an hour — we take care of the rest. We also have options for every age and experience-level, from kindergarten and up. Start planning your event by reading our how to guide.

Do I need computers for every participant?

No. We have Hour of Code tutorials that work on PCs, smartphones, tablets, and some that require no computer at all! You can join wherever you are, with whatever you have.Here are a few options:

  • Work in pairs. Research shows students learn best with pair programming, sharing a computer and working together. Encourage your students to double up.
  • Use a projected screen. If you have a projector and screen for a Web-connected computer, your entire group can do an Hour of Code together. Watch video portions together and take turns solving puzzles or answering questions.
  • Go unplugged. We offer tutorials that require no computer at all.

How can I make an Hour of Code tutorial?

If you’re interested in becoming a tutorial partner, see our guidelines and instructions. We’d like to host a variety of engaging options, but the primary goal is to optimize the experience for students and teachers who are new to computer science.
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OSTA Board Election Results

The results of the 2014 OSTA Board election are in and the following members have been elected to terms of office that begin January 1, 2015:

President-elect – Debbie Hill, Norman High School, Norman

Secretary – Ava Wilhelm, Briarwood Elementary, Moore

Directors at Large – Robin Combs, Mustang Valley Elementary, Mustang and Tammy Will, Morrison High School, Morrison

Middle Level Director – Jennifer Bobo, Stillwater Middle School, Stillwater

University/College – Julie Angle, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater

Thanks to all OSTA members that voted!

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