NCSE Evolution Education Update for 2010/02/12
(by NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch)
Dear Friends of NCSE, A new antievolution bill in Kentucky. A Facebook milestone for NCSE; a new batch of photographs from the Scopes trial; and a chance for biology faculty to learn how to understand and apply evidence-based research in biology education. And Darwin Day is here at last!
ANTIEVOLUTION LEGISLATION IN KENTUCKY Kentucky's House Bill 397 would, if enacted, allow teachers to "use, as permitted by the local school board, other instructional materials to help students understand, analyze, critique, and review scientific theories in an objective manner, including but not limited to the study of evolution, the origins of life, global warming, and human cloning." HB 397 was introduced in the Kentucky House of Representives on February 8, 2010, and referred to the House Education Committee; the sole sponsor of the bill is Tim Moore (R-District 26). The text of HB 397, entitled the Kentucky Science Education and Intellectual Freedom Act, is substantially similar to the so-called Louisiana Science Education Act, Louisiana Revised Statutes 17:285.1, which was passed and enacted in 2008, over the protests of the state's scientific and educational communities. A novelty in the Kentucky bill is the phrase "advantages and disadvantages of scientific theories," a variation on the familiar "strengths and weaknesses" and "evidence for and evidence against" rhetoric. Kentucky is apparently unique in having a statute (Kentucky Revised Statutes 158.177) that authorizes teachers to teach "the theory of creation as presented in the Bible" and to "read such passages in the Bible as are deemed necessary for instruction on the theory of creation." But it is unclear whether teachers take advantage of the opportunity. The Louisville Courier-Journal (January 11, 2006) reported that in a November 2005 survey of the state's 176 school districts, none was teaching or discussing "intelligent design." For information about Kentucky's HB 397, visit: http://www.lrc.ky.gov/record/10RS/HB397.htm For the text of KRS 158.177 (PDF), visit: http://www.lrc.ky.gov/KRS/158-00/177.PDF And for NCSE's previous coverage of events in Kentucky, visit: http://ncse.com/news/kentucky NCSE ON FACEBOOK: N > 5000 A milestone: there are now over 5000 fans of NCSE's Facebook page. Why not join them, by visiting the page and clicking on the "Become a Fan" box by NCSE's name? You'll receive the lastest NCSE news delivered straight to your Facebook Home page, as well as updates on new evolution-related scientific discoveries. Or if you prefer your news in 140-character chunks, follow NCSE on Twitter. And while you're surfing the web, why not visit NCSE's YouTube channel, one of the hundred most popular non-profit channels on the site? It's the best place on the web to view talks by NCSE's executive director Eugenie C. Scott! For NCSE's Facebook page, visit: http://www.facebook.com/evolution.ncse For NCSE's Twitter feed, visit: http://www.twitter.com/ncse For NCSE's YouTube channel, visit: http://www.youtube.com/user/NatCen4ScienceEd NEW SCOPES TRIAL PHOTOGRAPHS A batch of photographs from the Scopes trial was recently acquired by the Smithsonian Institution Archives. Taken by William Silverman, a nineteen-year-old student, the photographs show "famous players and unknown spectators: Clarence S. Darrow, William Jennings Bryan, defense attorneys Arthur Garfield Hays and Dudley Field Malone, drugstore owner Fred E. Robinson, a mysterious man on the Rhea County Courthouse lawn, a young woman posing for the camera, and others," according to a post at The Bigger Picture, the Smithsonian Photography Initiative's blog. The photographs are available on the Smithsonian Institution’s photostream in the Flickr Commons. The historian Marcel Chotkowski LaFollette, whose book Reframing Scopes: Journalists, Scientists, and Lost Photographs from the Trial of the Century (University Press of Kansas, 2008) examined the trial from the perspective of journalist-photographers Watson Davis and Frank Thone, commented in a separate post at The Bigger Picture, "William Silverman's images provide another set of valuable confirming perspectives. Recorded from yet another view, they infuse action into the official trial transcript and reveal faces from different angles, famous celebrities and ordinary visitors alike, all captured in the moment, fascinated with the trial." For the posts from The Bigger Picture, visit: http://blog.photography.si.edu/2010/02/03/new-donation-of-scopes-trial-photos/ http://blog.photography.si.edu/2010/02/08/perspectives/ For the trial photographs on the Smithsonian's photostream, visit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/smithsonian/sets/72157607580371997/ WANTED: BIOLOGISTS CURIOUS ABOUT STUDENT LEARNING The Education Department of the American Society for Microbiology is currently soliciting participants for its Biology Scholars Program Research Residency -- a year-long virtual residency geared toward helping undergraduate biology faculty understand and apply evidence-based research in biology education. According to the program's website, the purpose of the Research Residency is to develop biologists' understanding of evidence-based research in biology education learning; skills to create, design, and implement an experiment to assess student learning; and community of practice available for consultation and support. The 2010 Research Residency begins with the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Institute, planned for July 14-17 at ASM's headquarters in Washington DC. Applications for the 2010 Biology Scholars Program Research Residency will be accepted until March 1, 2010; space is limited to twenty scholars. For information about the residency program, visit: http://www.biologyscholars.org/page02a.shtml DARWIN DAY IS HERE Are you recovered from 2009's celebrations of the bicentennial of Darwin's birth and the sesquicentennial of the publication of On the Origin of Species? Good, today -- February 12, 2010 -- is Darwin Day 2010! Colleges and universities, schools, libraries, museums, churches, civic groups, and just plain folks across the country -- and the world -- are preparing to celebrate Darwin Day, on or around February 12, in honor of the life and work of Charles Darwin. These events provide a marvelous opportunity not only to celebrate Darwin's birthday but also to engage in public outreach about science, evolution, and the importance of evolution education. NCSE encourages its members and friends to attend, participate in, and even organize Darwin Day events in their own communities. To find a local event, check the websites of local universities and museums and the registry of Darwin Day events maintained by the Darwin Day Celebration website. (And don't forget to register your own event with the Darwin Day Celebration website!) And with Darwin Day comes the return of Evolution Weekend! Hundreds of congregations all over the country and around the world are taking part in Evolution Weekend, February 12-14, 2010, by presenting sermons and discussion groups on the compatibility of faith and science. Michael Zimmerman, the initiator of the project, writes, "Evolution Weekend is an opportunity for serious discussion and reflection on the relationship between religion and science. One important goal is to elevate the quality of the discussion on this critical topic -- to move beyond sound bites. A second critical goal is to demonstrate that religious people from many faiths and locations understand that evolution is sound science and poses no problems for their faith. Finally, as with The Clergy Letter itself, Evolution Weekend makes it clear that those claiming that people must choose between religion and science are creating a false dichotomy." At last count, 850 congregations in all fifty states (and twelve foreign countries) were scheduled to hold Evolution Weekend events. For the Darwin Day registry, visit: http://www.darwinday.org/events/ http://www.darwinday.org/events/register.php For information about Evolution Weekend, visit: http://www.evolutionweekend.org/ 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 education and threats to it. -- Sincerely, Glenn Branch Deputy Director National Center for Science Education, Inc. 420 40th Street, Suite 2 Oakland, CA 94609-2509 510-601-7203 x310 fax: 510-601-7204 800-290-6006 firstname.lastname@example.org http://ncse.com Subscribe to NCSE's free weekly e-newsletter: http://groups.google.com/group/ncse-news NCSE is on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter: http://www.facebook.com/evolution.ncse http://www.youtube.com/NatCen4ScienceEd http://twitter.com/ncse NCSE's work is supported by its members. Join today! http://ncse.com/membership