Practical Importance of Human Evolution, a FREE Course from the University of Oklahoma

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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!!!

https://janux.ou.edu/course.anth4970-spring2015.html

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

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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 Code.org 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 Code.org.

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 Code.org, 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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NCSE Evolution and Climate Change Update: 11.14.14

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THE LATEST FROM TEXAS

The pressure on the Texas board of education to require the correction of errors in the coverage of climate change in social studies textbooks presently under consideration continues. In a press conference on November 12, 2014, NCSE, the Texas Freedom Network, and Climate Parents charged that textbooks published by McGraw-Hill and Pearson are still problematic, as the Austin Chronicle (November 12, 2014) reports.

Observing that science textbooks manage to represent the scientific consensus correctly, NCSE’s Josh Rosenau described the social studies textbooks as “irresponsible,” adding that it’s “hard to understand how the social studies books went so far [a]field.” Lisa Hoyos of Climate Parents agreed, saying, “Parents are alarmed and angry that [publishers] would knowingly expose kids to false information in their social studies textbooks.”

Released at the same press conference was a letter addressed to McGraw-Hill and Pearson urging the publishers to “correct all factual errors regarding climate change in draft textbooks for K-12 students in Texas.” Signing the letter, besides NCSE, TFN, and Climate Parents, were the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Alliance for Climate Education, Bill Nye, Sojourners, and the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Previously, a number of scientific societies and environmental organizations urged the state board of education to require the publishers to fix these errors: the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Geophysical Union, the American Meteorological Society and the American Association of Physics Teachers, the Ecological Society, and the National Resources Defense Council.

The state board of education is scheduled to hold a final public hearing on the textbooks on November 18, with a vote on the textbooks expected to follow on November 21. The TFN’s president Kathy Miller told the Austin Chronicle, “Parents must insist that students get textbooks based on the recommendations of scholars and experts rather than on the demands of politicians who pressure publishers into distorting research and facts.”

For the story in the Austin Chronicle, visit:

http://http//www.austinchronicle.com/daily/news/2014-11-12/science-groups-demand-textbook-publishers-remove-climate-change-denialism/

For the letter to the publishers (PDF), visit:

http://ncse.com/files/TX_letters/NCSE_CP_TFN-signon.pdf

For the letters to the Texas state board of education (PDF), visit:

http://ncse.com/files/TX_letters/Letters_from_science_societies.pdf

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

http://ncse.com/news/texas

UPDATE FROM SCOTLAND

The Public Petitions Committee of the Scottish Parliament heard testimony supporting the proposed ban on teaching creationism as scientifically credible in Scotland’s public schools on November 11, 2014,according to the Press Association (November 11, 2014). The committee agreed to write to the Scottish government, the Educational Institute of Scotland, the Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association and the Association of Headteachers and Deputes in Scotland to receive their views on the matter.

As NCSE previously reported, the petition, filed by the Scottish Secular Society, asks the parliament “to bar the presentation in Scottish publicly funded schools of separate creation and of Young Earth doctrines as viable alternatives to the established science of evolution, common descent, and deep time,” adding, “Nothing in this request precludes the discussion of such doctrines in their proper place, as part of the study of ideas, neither does it nor can it infringe on individual freedom of belief.”

Among the organizations submitting written testimony was NCSE, which in a November 7, 2014, letter expressed its support for the proposed ban, citing the statements from scientific and educational organizations contained in Voices for Evolution as well as case law from legal cases in the United States. The letter also argued, “Simply devolving the question of how to address evolution and creationism to individual teachers is not satisfactory,” in light of reports of creationist encroachments on science education in Scotland.

For the Press Association story (via The Courier), visit:

http://www.thecourier.co.uk/news/education/msps-warned-on-schools-creationism-1.677322

For the petition (PDF) and related documents, visit:

http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/gettinginvolved/petitions/petitionPDF/PE01530.pdf

http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/gettinginvolved/petitions/creationismguidance

For NCSE’s letter (PDF), visit:

http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/S4_PublicPetitionsCommittee/General%20Documents/PE1530_L_National_Center_for_Science_Education_07.11.14.pdf

For Voices for Evolution, visit:

http://ncse.com/voices

And for NCSE’s previous coverage of events outside the United States, visit:

http://ncse.com/news/international

“TEXAS TEXTBOOKS NEED TO GET THE FACTS STRAIGHT”

Writing in the Austin American-Statesman (November 6, 2014), Camille Parmesan and Alan I. Leshner called on the Texas state board of education to insist on the correction of scientifically inaccurate material about climate change in social studies textbooks currently under consideration for state adoption. “Texas educators should reject the new textbooks unless they are edited to address the serious concerns outlined by the National Center for Science Education,” they argued.

Along with the Texas Freedom Network, NCSE previously charged that “an

examination of how proposed social studies textbooks for Texas public schools address climate change reveals distortions and bias that misrepresent the broad scientific consensus on the phenomenon.” A number of errors about climate science were present, as well as a quotation from a notorious climate change denial organization presented in rebuttal of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

“Children cannot compete in the global marketplace of the future unless they achieve science literacy,” Parmesan and Leshner concluded. “Students deserve to know the true scientific facts about human-caused climate change.” Parmesan is a professor of integrative biology at the University of Texas, Austin, and a lead author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change; Leshner is the chief executive officer of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

The Texas state board of education is expected to hold a final vote on the social studies textbooks on November 21, 2014. As NCSE previously reported, petitions calling for correction of the errors on climate science in the textbooks signed by over 24,000 Texans were delivered to the board and the publishers on October 20, 2014. It isn’t too late for concerned Texans to add their voices in support of the integrity of science education by signing the petition cosponsored by NCSE and the Texas Freedom Network.

For Parmesan and Leshner’s column in the Austin American-Statesman, visit:

http://www.statesman.com/news/news/opinion/commentary-texas-textbooks-need-to-get-the-facts-s/nh2mQ/

For NCSE and TFN’s press release about the errors in the textbooks, visit:

http://ncse.com/climate/proposed-texas-textbooks-distort-climate-change-facts

For the petition, visit:

https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/remove-climate-change-denial-from-textbooks-teach-the-facts

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

http://ncse.com/news/texas

CONGRATULATIONS TO JAY LABOV

NCSE is delighted to congratulate Jay Labov on being named as a Honorary Member of the National Association of Biology Teachers.

“Jay has truly been a leader, advocate and major driving force behind numerous initiatives to improve biology education both nationally and internationally,” Jane Ellis, president-elect of NABT and chair of the honorary membership committee said in a press release. “We are so pleased to recognize his contributions.”

Honorary Membership is the highest award conferred by the NABT, and is given to those members who have “achieved distinction in teaching, research, or service in the biological sciences.” NCSE’s founder Stanley Weinberg received the honor in 1985 and NCSE’s founding executive director Eugenie C. Scott received the honor in 2005.

Labov is Senior Advisor for Education and Communication for the National Research Council  and the National Academy of Sciences. He received NCSE’s Friend of Darwin award in 2013.

For the press release, visit:

http://www.nabt.org/campaigns/index.php?r=info%40ncse.com&a=1&c=389

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Engage with OSTA through our NEW Facebook group

Each year following the OSTA Fall Staff Development Conference we survey participants and ask, among other things, why they attend.  Year after year one of the top reasons given is “networking”.

Indeed, meeting with other science teachers to share insight, experiences, and understandings is powerful reason to join a professional organization, be it OSTA, NSTA, NABT or myriad other science and education groups.

OSTA has maintained Facebook and Twitter accounts for several years and also maintains a members-only forum up on the MemberClicks site.

We have now established a new Facebook Groups site so you can extend the conference networking experience.  Click the link below and you too can be in on the ground floor of the newest OSTA offering.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/OSTA.OKScienceTeachersAssociation/

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Meet the OSTA Board Candidates

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The OSTA Nominating Committee has developed a Board-approved slate of candidates for positions to the OSTA Board of Directors.  The annual OSTA elections are held each year at this time and voting is conducted electronically via email ballot sent to active OSTA members using their preferred email address as found in their Memberclicks account. The ballot will be active for a period of one week beginning today and ending at 5 pm on November 11th. (If you don’t see it, check your spam folder)

Here are the candidates for office:

Director at Large (select 2)

Tammy Will

  • Morrison High School

Robin Combs

  • Mustang Public Schools – Mustang Valley Elementary 3rd grade

Shelena Thomas

  • Tishomingo High School

Middle Level Director: (select 1)

John Braly

  • Norman Public Schools – Longfellow Middle School

Vanessa Berry

  • Edmond Public Schools – Cimarron Middle School

Jennifer Bobo

  • Stillwater Public Schools – Stillwater Middle School

College/University Director:

Dan Vincent

  • University of Central Oklahoma

Julie Angle

  • Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK.

Secretary

Ava Wilhelm

  • Moore Public Schools – Briarwood Elementary

President-elect

Deborah Hill

  • Norman High School

Click HERE to access a biographical sketch of each of the candidates that was compiled from information supplied by the candidates and/or their nominators.

 

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NCSE Update – 10/31/14

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UPDATE FROM WYOMING

The Wyoming Tribune Eagle (October 26, 2014) reviewed the status of the state’s science standards. As NCSE previously reported, a footnote in Wyoming’s budget for 2014-2016 precluded the use of state funds “for any review or adoption” of the Next Generation Science Standards, in part owing to their treatment of climate change. The Wyoming state board of education subsequently declined to develop a new set of science standards independent of the NGSS.

Mary Throne (D-District 11), who wrote the final version of the footnote, told the Tribune Eagle that it was misinterpreted: “My goal was to allow the state board to use the Next Generation Science Standards as a template and then basically ‘Wyomingize’ them—tweak them to fit Wyoming better, but not to throw them out all together.” Throne said that she hoped to seek a repeal of the footnote in the next session of the legislature.

Marguerite Herman of Wyoming for Science Education defended the NGSS, saying, “They are high-class, 21st century, peer-reviewed [standards] and are based on what students need to know, what industry needs students to know and an understanding of how people learn science.” She expressed hope that in the future Wyoming education would be free of political interference. “The Legislature set the review process back, and our kids are the losers in the process.”

Despite the legislature’s decision, local school districts are apparently free to adopt the NGSS, and about fifteen (of forty-eight) have done so. Still, the decision was disruptive: Jack Cozort of Laramie County School District 2 commented, “We saw the footnote, and we slammed on the brakes.” Melanie Fierro of Laramie County School District 1 added, “It does put us in a little bit of a bind,” but approvingly described the change to the NGSS as a “paradigm shift.” Herman worried about the effect of the lack of a set of state standards that cover climate change on teachers: “If you’re in a district without [the NGSS], your hands may be tied, and you won’t have the resources.” NCSE’s Minda Berbeco added, “Standards help set the guidelines for professional development and what teachers should know going into the classroom … If you leave out a topic, they’re less likely to learn about it.”

For the story in the Wyoming Tribune Eagle, visit:

http://www.wyomingnews.com/articles/2014/10/26/news/01top_10-26-14.txt And for NCSE’s previous coverage of events in Wyoming, visit:

http://ncse.com/news/wyoming

POLL DATA ON EVOLUTION AND CLIMATE CHANGE

The Chapman University Survey on American Fears included a pair of questions relevant to evolution and climate change.

Asked “Which of the following statements comes closest to your views about the origin and development of man?” 39.9% of respondents preferred “God created man pretty much in his present form at one time within the last 10,000 years,” 19.0% preferred “Man has developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life. God had no part in this process,” and 36.5% preferred “Man has developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God guided this process, including man’s”; 4.6% of respondents refused to answer. Asked “Which of the following statements best describes your personal belief about global climate change (global warming due to the Greenhouse effect)?” 59.1% of respondents preferred “Global climate change is occur[r]ing and is significantly accelerated by human activities and pollution,” 16.2% preferred “Global climate change is occur[r]ing, but is not the result of human activities and pollution,” and 8.8% preferred “Global climate change is NOT occur[r]ing”; 12.6% of respondents indicated that none of the statements accurately described their beliefs and 3.2% refused to answer.

The survey was conducted on-line in April 2014 by the GfK Group using a representative sample of adults in the United States; there were 1573 respondents in all.

For information about the survey, visit:

http://www.chapman.edu/wilkinson/research-centers/babbie-center/survey-american-fears.aspx And for NCSE’s collection of polls and surveys on climate, visit:

http://ncse.com/polls/polls-climate-change

WHAT’S NEW FROM THE SCIENCE LEAGUE OF AMERICA Have you been visiting NCSE’s blog, The Science League of America, recently? If not, then you’ve missed:

* Glenn Branch discussing a misquotation of Ernst Haeckel: http://ncse.com/blog/2014/10/riled-haeckel-0015946

* Josh Rosenau considering the use of humor as a tool against pseudoscience: http://ncse.com/blog/2014/10/wielding-humor-as-tool-0015945

* Mark McCaffrey debunking a misconception about the ozone hole: http://ncse.com/blog/2014/10/misconception-monday-oh-no-ozone-hole-0015949 And much more besides!

For The Science League of America, visit:

http://ncse.com/blog

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

Sincerely,

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
800-290-6006
branch@ncse.com
http://ncse.com
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OMRF Fleming Scholar Program

The Fleming Scholar Program was founded in 1956 as a way to give Oklahoma’s high school and college students “hands-on” biomedical research experience. The program is named for Sir Alexander Fleming, the famed British scientist, who discovered penicillin and in 1949 came to Oklahoma City to formally dedicate the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation’s first building. In the first news release about the program in 1956, the late Dean A. McGee, then Chairman of the Board of Directors’ Executive Committee, expressed the philosophy behind the program:

“We feel that students will greatly benefit from the opportunity of working shoulder-to-shoulder in the laboratories with our scientific personnel. Our scientists feel also that in this way they can make a direct contribution to the solution of the critical manpower shortage in the field of biology and medical research. We are shorthanded in terms of having adequate staff to do the job of expanding our knowledge in the field of human health, and perhaps by this program, we will be helping identify and stimulate the scientists of tomorrow.”

In 1982, the Fleming Scholar Program became a model for a national program funded by the federal government to bring the best and brightest high school and college students into contact with the best and brightest scientific and mathematical minds in government and non-government laboratories.

Today the Fleming Scholar Program remains popular, attracting as many as 100 applicants each year.

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To apply for the Fleming Scholar Program, you MUST be:

  • An Oklahoma resident at the time of high school graduation.
  • At least 16 years of age.
  • Classified as a high school senior or college freshman, sophomore or junior at the time of application submission.
  • A United States citizen or permanent resident or have unrestricted employment authorization in accordance with applicable Immigration and Naturalization Service regulations (example: J-2 with Employment Authorization Document). Applicants with an H-4 visa are not eligible.
  • Willing and able to commit to the program’s entire eight-week time frame, which begins the first Monday following Memorial Day.

Scholars are selected based on aptitude and interest in science and math, academic standing, essays and recommendation letters written as part of the application process.

Find out more at omrf.org

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Know Where to Go and How to Get There

So… how will you know when you’ve arrived at the OSTA Fall Conference?  You’ll be in the Visitor parking lot just East of the Nigh University Center at UCO and on your way to Howell Hall!

Saturday is Homecoming at the University of Central Oklahoma, but nearly all of the festivities for that event are on the North end of the campus.  All parking on campus is free this Saturday.

Click this link to get a complete map of the UCO campus.
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Take the Shirt Off Our Back!

Pre-Order your OFFICIAL OSTA FLIPS for Science Fall Conference t-shirt from the Oklahoma Shirt Company.

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Shirts are $15 each and will be available for pick-up at the conference.  Shirts are only available by pre-order from the Oklahoma Shirt Company website .

Show your OSTA pride by purchasing your OSTA Flips for Science T-Shirt today!

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