April 28th, 2012 Bob
(From NCSE’s Weekly Evolution and Climate Change Update, April 27) Louisiana’s Senate Bill 374 was rejected on a 2-1 vote in the Senate Committee on Education on April 19, 2012, according to the Alexandria Town Talk (April 19, 2012). Three senators were absent and the chair abstained. The bill, introduced by Karen Carter Peterson (D-District 5), would, if enacted, repeal Louisiana Revised Statutes 17:285.1, which implemented the so-called Louisiana Science Education Act, passed and enacted in 2008, and thus opened the door for scientifically unwarranted criticisms of evolution and climate science to be taught in the state’s public schools.
The law targeted for repeal calls on state and local education administrators to help to promote “critical thinking skills, logical analysis, and open and objective discussion of scientific theories being studied including, but not limited to, evolution, the origins of life, global warming, and human cloning”; these four topics were described as controversial in the original draft of the legislation. It also allows teachers to use “supplemental textbooks and other instructional materials to help students understand, analyze, critique, and review scientific theories in an objective manner” if so permitted by their local school boards.
Since 2008, antievolutionists have not only sought to undermine the law’s provision allowing challenges to unsuitable supplementary materials, but have also reportedly invoked the law to support proposals to teach creationism in at least two parishes—Livingston and Tangipahoa—and to attack the treatment of evolution in biology textbooks proposed for adoption by the state. Meanwhile, the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology urged Louisianans to repeal the law in 2008, and the Society of Integrative and Comparative Biology decided to hold its conferences elsewhere while the law remains on the books.
At the hearing, Zack Kopplin, a first-year student at Rice University who launched the repeal effort while a senior at Baton Rouge Magnet High School, told the committee that the law was hurting Louisiana’s reputation. Kevin Carman, the dean of Louisiana State University’s Department of Science, confirmed it, saying that two scientists he was trying to recruit to the university cited the law as their reason not to accept and one scientist already at LSU departed because of worries about the quality of his children’s science education. “Teaching pseudo-science drives scientists away,” Carman said.
In a press release, Kopplin expressed optimism about the future of the repeal effort, noting that the identical Senate Bill 70, introduced by Peterson in 2011, was tabled by the Senate Education Committee on a 5-1 vote. Kopplin also observed that the support of the scientific community for the repeal effort continues to grow: “The repeal effort has the unprecedented support of 78 Nobel laureate scientists — 40% of all living Nobel laureate scientists in physics, chemistry, or physiology or medicine.” A list of the Nobelists endorsing the effort is available at Kopplin’s repealcreationism website.
Also endorsing the repeal effort were the National Association of Biology Teachers, the Louisiana Association of Biology Educators, the Louisiana Coalition for Science, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Institute for Biological Sciences, the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, the American Society for Cell Biology, the Society for the Study of Evolution together with the Society of Systematic Biologists and the American Society of Naturalists, the Clergy Letter Project, the New Orleans City Council, and the Baton Rouge Advocate.
For the text of Louisiana’s Senate Bill 374 (PDF), visit:
For the article in the Alexandria Town Talk, visit:
For the list of endorsers of the repeal effort, visit:
And for NCSE’s previous coverage of events in Louisiana, visit:
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.
April 25th, 2012 Bob
I have several items to share with you this week including some great opportunities for students and educators! As always please feel free to contact me with any questions you might have pertaining to the announcements.
Next week I will announce our Science Keynote Speaker for the Vision 2020 Conference being held June 12th – June 15th in OKC (remember Science Day is June 12th and STEM Day is June 13th). I hope you are all able to attend this exciting event!
Preparing for the Public Draft of the Next Generation Science Standards
Several questions have been coming into the office pertaining to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). I hope the information below will answer some of the questions.
The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) are currently under development through a partnership between the National Research Council (NRC), the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences (AAAS), and Achieve. The Next Generation Science Standards represent an effort to produce National Science Standards that individual states could consider for adoption upon their final publication.
As part of the development, process standards will undergo an extensive review process including two public drafts, allowing all those who have a stake in science education an opportunity to inform the development of the standards.
In case you missed it, here is a bit of information pertaining to draft and public review processes provided by both the National Science Teachers Association and the Oklahoma Science Teachers Association (OSTA).
In a process managed by Achieve, Inc., a nonprofit education reform organization, 26 states are currently leading the development of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The standards will undergo multiple reviews, including two public drafts. The first public draft is expected soon and NSTA encourages science educators to actively participate in the review process by taking the time to study and provide input on this important document when it becomes available. NSTA suggests educators form study groups with colleagues to have focused discussions about the document.
You can read more about the review process and find resources for NGSS study groups via OSTA’s post: http://www.oklahomascienceteachersassociation.org/?p=3897
Grant & Award Opportunities for Teachers:
- OGE&E Teacher Grant Program: One teacher with a great idea can have a tremendous influence on our children and the community. That’s why OG&E proudly gives teachers the power to create unique approaches to science, math and reading through our Teacher Grant Program. If you are a public school teacher for the grades pre-K-12 and are located in the OG&E services territory, you can apply for a grant up to $1,000 for 2012-2013 projects.
- Apply by June 1, 2012. Go to oge.com for eligibility information and application.
- Grants will be awarded around the beginning of the fall 2012 semester. For more information, visit oge.com and email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Air Force Association Teacher of the Year Award and Nominations: The purpose of the program is to recognize classroom teachers for their accomplishments and achievements in exciting K-12 students about science and math (STEM) and preparing them to use and contribute to tomorrow’s technologies. This is a unique opportunity to reward special teachers who are furthering excellence and making coming to class an adventure. We really enjoy honoring STEM teachers and our chapter award winner gets a nice $250 check from the Air Force Association.
Professional Development Opportunities for Teachers:
- 2012 Forensic Science Educational Conferences: The American Academy of Forensic Sciences is pleased to present the 2012 Forensic Science Education Conferences (FSECs) for Middle- and High School Teachers. The Forensic Science Education Conferences are helping to bring forensic science to the classroom. Currently, four FSEC conferences have been scheduled for 2012:
- You can view all the details through OSTA’s post:
- Summer Research Experience for High School Science Teachers at UCO: The University of Central Oklahoma College of Mathematics & Science has a National Science Foundation grant, STEP offers teachers the opportunity to participate in research labs with UCO faculty during the month of July. They work together with student participants and faculty mentors to enhance their research.
Science Opportunities for Students:
- 3rd Annual National Lab Day: Oklahoma State University is hosting the 3rd Annual National Lab Day on May 8th, 2012 from 9:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
- Teacher/student teams select specific science research labs that they would like to learn more about.
- Students visit with science researchers, OSU recruiters, and other students across Oklahoma also interested in science or science education careers.
- Teachers gain a better understanding of current science research that can provide authentic applications to classroom curriculum.
- OKC Zoo Teen Volunteer Recruitment Open House: The Oklahoma City Zoo is looking for dedicated enthusiastic teens to join their programs. Selected teens volunteer with keepers and staff to see what it takes to run the zoo and inspire the next generation.
To close, I would like to share with you a quote from Rebecca Mieliwocki, the 2012 National Teacher of the Year. When Rebecca was honored at the White House this week she was congratulated for being the best teacher in the land. Her response to such accolades was, “I’m not the best teacher in America; I’m one of so many”.
I couldn’t agree more! I am so honored to be working for so many outstanding science educators in our state!
Thank you for all you do!
Director of Science
Oklahoma State Department of Education
Office of Instruction
Join us for the Vision 2020 Conference
April 25th, 2012 Bob
In this detailed guide, written by Ann Brokaw of Rocky River High School in Ohio, all the resources on the HHMI Holiday Lectures DVDs and BioInteractive website that fit the new AP Biology Curriculum Framework are correlated to specific Big Ideas, Enduring Understandings, and Essential Knowledge threads. In addition, each resource in the guide is hyperlinked so you can just click and watch! This guide joins five others that identify all BioInteractive and Holiday Lecture resources that fall under specific topics like biotechnology, gene regulation, and immunology.
Visit www.biointeractive.org/guides for more information.
April 25th, 2012 Bob
May 18th has been designated as the 7th annual national Endangered Species Day, and is an opportunity for people young and old to learn about the importance of protecting endangered species and everyday actions that people can take to help protect our nation’s disappearing wildlife and last remaining open space. Every year, thousands of people throughout the country celebrate Endangered Species Day at parks, wildlife refuges, zoos, aquariums, botanical gard ens, libraries, schools and community centers. You can participate in festivals, field trips, park tours, community clean-ups, film showings, classroom presentations, and many other fun and educational activities. You can also plan your own school-wide Endangered Species Day event.
Depending on your school schedule, you can plan events earlier in May, on Endangered Species Day (May 18) itself, or that weekend. Once a specific activity is planned, the class can register on the Endangered Species Day website at www.endangeredspeciesday.org, which also offers a variety of special resources (including handout materials that can be downloaded and printed).
For additional information, contact David Robinson, Endangered Species Day Director at email@example.com
April 25th, 2012 Bob
Teachers can now create online tests using a new feature at an innovative web site from AAAS that compiles national data on what students know about key science concepts.
The “Create & Take Tests” module, developed by AAAS’s Project 2061 science literacy initiative, is available at AAAS Science Assessment. Building on the site’s core of over 700 assessment items, teachers can use the new module to create multiple-choice science tests for their classroom that can target key ideas in 16 science topics, from evolution and natural selection to atoms, molecules, and states of matter. The tests can be administered and scored online, and results can be compared to national scores on the same topics.
Project 2061 developed the assessment items and collected data on them in a seven-year effort funded by a grant from the U.S. National Science Foundation. Building on that work, the U.S. Department of Education has awarded Project 2061 a new $1.5 million grant, starting in August 2012, to create a set of assessments that measure late elementary to high school students’ understanding of energy concepts.
More information is available at http://assessment.aaas.org/
April 23rd, 2012 Bob
In a process managed by Achieve, Inc., a nonprofit education reform organization, 26 states are currently leading the development of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The standards will undergo multiple reviews, including two public drafts. The first public draft is expected soon and NSTA encourages science educators to actively participate in the review process by taking the time to study and provide input on this important document when it becomes available. NSTA suggests educators form study groups with colleagues to have focused discussions about the document. A study group is an excellent means to become familiar with the NGSS in preparation for implementation decisions and plans when the final document is released in late 2012 or early 2013. In-depth discussions among peers will also prove valuable in providing informed feedback to Achieve on the draft. Now is the time to start planning and organizing a study group. Click here to download the NSTA guide that includes sample agendas, a facilitator guide, and suggested questions.
It’s also important for science educators to have a thorough understanding of the foundation for the new standards. The NGSS is based on A Framework for K–12 Science Education, released by the National Research Council and available online at www.nap.edu. NSTA Press® is also selling the publication with a discount for members. NSTA has produced a number of resources to help science educators better understand the framework and its dimensions, including The NSTA Reader’s Guide to a Framework for K–12 Science Education and a number of articles published in NSTA member journals. These resources are available online. NSTA Press also has assembled the Guide and the journal articles into one useful publication, The NSTA Reader’s Guide to A Framework for K–12 Science Education, Expanded Edition.
April 19th, 2012 Bob
High School Science Teachers
The University of Central Oklahoma College of Mathematics & Science has a National Science Foundation grant, STEP@UCO, which includes a summer research program for high school science teachers. Teachers have the opportunity to participate in research labs with UCO faculty during the month of July. They work together with student participants and faculty mentors to enhance their research. The experience gained by teachers is valuable for integration into the curricula of high school science classrooms. Each teacher participant will receive a $2,000 stipend. Check the STEP@UCO website http://www.uco.edu/cms/step-uco for an application and a list of faculty mentors. Applications are due May 18th, 2012. Please contact Dr. Evan Lemley, firstname.lastname@example.org or 405 974-5473 for additional information.
April 18th, 2012 Bob
Evolution in Oklahoma and Texas Science Classes
Who: High school science teachers and students in science education
When: Friday Oct. 5 (6:00 PM) through Sunday Oct. 7, 2012 (3:00 PM)
Where: The University of Oklahoma Biological Station on Lake Texoma, OK
Topics covered will include:
- The nature of science and latest developments in evolutionary biology
- Curriculum development and state standards
- Resources on teaching evolution for teachers
- Discussion of participants’ favorite lesson plans and classroom experiences
- Dealing with classroom and community controversy
- Legislation and the political landscape.
Participants will earn a certificate of participation for professional development credit.
- Julie Angle (Teaching and Curriculum Leadership, OSU)
- Dr Richard Broughton (Zoology, OU)
- Dr. Ola Fincke (Zoology, OU)
- Dr. Victor Hutchison (Zoology, OU)
- Dr. Cecil Lewis (Anthropology, OU)
- Dr. Joseph Maness (Biological Sciences, Southwestern OSU)
- Bob Melton (Science Curriculum Specialist, Putnam City Schools)
- Dr. Stanley Rice (Biological Sciences, Southeastern OSU
All materials (including two books on teaching evolution), accommodations, and meals at the UOBS are included. The only cost for participants is a $25 registration fee. Registration deadline is Sept. 14, 2012. Early registration is advised as places are limited to 30 registrants.
Further information, registration forms and payment information are on-line at: www.oklascience.org/teachers.pdf and at www.ou.edu/uobs/teachers.htm.
Presented by Oklahomans for Excellence in Science Education, the National Science Foundation (NSF-0845314), and the University of Oklahoma Biological Station
April 15th, 2012 Bob
National DNA Day is a unique day when students, teachers and the public can learn more about genetics and genomics! The day commemorates the completion of the Human Genome Project in April 2003, and the discovery of DNA’s double helix. This year, NHGRI will celebrate National DNA Day on April 20, 2012.
As part of the annual celebration, NHGRI hosts the annual DNA Day Online Chatroom from 8:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. Eastern. Send your questions and experts will respond in real time. Topics up for discussion: everything from the basic facts about DNA to the future medical applications of genomic research. Check out the transcript to read all of the questions and answers from the 2011 Chatroom. Although the chatroom will be open to the public, questions from schools who register for the chatroom will be given preferred treatment. The winner of the DNA Day Essay Contest will be announced in the Chatroom as well.
If you are interested in having your school register, please send an e-mail to Carla Easter, email@example.com.
DNA Day is also the perfect time to visit NHGRI’s Talking Glossary of Genetic Terms. Created to help everyone understand the terms and concepts used in genetic research, the glossary features not only definitions, but specialists in the field of genetics who share their descriptions of terms. Many terms include images, animation and links to related terms. This is a great resource for teachers and students alike.
April 13th, 2012 Bob
Weekly Science Message: April 9th-13th
First I’d like to say thank you to everyone for the overwhelming support! Science teachers are the best and I’ve enjoyed reading all of your e-mails! I’ve already had several suggestions and questions brought to my attention. I will try to address them as well as make a few announcements.
Oklahoma’s Vision 2020 Conference:
The Oklahoma State Department of Education will be hosting the first Vision 2020 Conference. The conference is being held in Oklahoma City June 12th-15th. The Vision 2020 Conference is an attempt to merge all of the discipline specific workshops and conference together for one week-long EVENT! June 12th and 13th are designated as teacher days and June 14th and 15th are designated as leader days. However, teachers and leaders can attend any of the days of the conference they choose.
I encourage you all to attend June 12th and June 13th. There will be exciting breakout sessions for science educators both days along with some amazing opening speakers and keynote speakers at lunch! The breakout sessions will include national speakers sharing amazing strategies that support implementation of Common Core State Standards for Literacy in Science as well as numerous Oklahoma teachers who will be presenting lesson ideas.
The June 12th keynote speaker will focus on science education and the June 13th keynote speaker will focus on STEM education (the mathematics teachers will be joining us at lunch on June 13th). Registration for the conference is $25 and includes: admittance all week, a parking pass, and one lunch. Look for more information on OSDE’s website at: http://ok.gov/sde/events/vision-2020
Navigating the New Oklahoma State Department of Education Website:
I have received several requests for support in finding: Testing Blue Prints, the Item Specification Document, and Test Item Release documents from previous years. To address the questions I’ve attached the “Navigating the OSDE Website Testing Resources” document. It will guide you step-by-step through the process with text and image support. I hope you find it helpful!
Oklahoma C3 Science Standards and Common Core State Standards for Literacy in Science:
There seems to be some confusion related to Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for Literacy in Science and Oklahoma C3 Science Standards. I will attempt to try to clear up some of that confusion. However, if you have further questions please feel free to contact me.
Common Core State Standards for Literacy in Science represent a set of standards that are supplemental to the existing Oklahoma C3 Science Standards (formerly called PASS).The Literacy Standards for Science serve as a means for science educators to support deeper understanding of the process and content standards found in the Oklahoma C3 Science Standards through literacy. This does not mean that we move away from great science activities! It just means that we will also focus on incorporating literacy skills into our existing practices. Many science educators have been this for years and some will be sharing those practices at the Vision 2020 Conference in June.
You can access the Oklahoma C3 Science Standards from the Educators tab of the OSDE’s Homepage or directly via: http://ok.gov/sde/oklahoma-c3-standards If you scroll down the page you will find the link to the Oklahoma C3 Science Standards.
Professional Development Opportunities for Educators:
- Oklahoma State University is offering a STEM Teacher Institute for K-8 Educators June 15th.
o Details posted on OSTA: http://www.oklahomascienceteachersassociation.org/?p=3822
- The 2012 OSTA Spring Workshop is being hosted at the University of Central Oklahoma Forensic Institute in Edmond April 14th.
o Details posted on OSTA: http://www.oklahomascienceteachersassociation.org/?p=3829
Science Camps for Students:
- Engineering Summer Academy being held at Tulsa University June 25th -29th. The Summer Engineering Academy is for Precollege Students interested in careers in electrical and mechanical engineering.
o Details posted on OSTA: http://www.oklahomascienceteachersassociation.org/?p=3845
I know this is a tremendous amount of information for the first weekly post. However, I had a lot to share with you! I hope to see you all at the Vision 2020 Conference in June! It will be an amazing time for Oklahoma science educators to gain valuable information and resources to support implementation of Oklahoma C3 Science Standards and Common Core State Standards for Literacy in Science. Don’t miss it!
Have a great weekend!
Director of Science
Oklahoma State Department of Education
Office of Instruction