Monthly Archives: September 2014

Science Education Takes a Hit

Apparently science education in Oklahoma is not very good. News On 6 in Tulsa reports that most schools in the eastern part of the state were given D’s and F’s for science education. The article doesn’t address why science education is so poor other than to say the teachers are learning a new way to teach science, a more hands-on approach.

What do you think? How do you feel about your child’s science education? One goal of this blog is to see how scientists feel about the state of science education in Oklahoma. We’ll talk to scientists and researchers for their opinions but I want to know yours. Send me an email to scienceisok (at) outlook (dot) com.

Two Years On Mars

It blows me a way every time I think about it. Man-made vehicles are on Mars right now!! That’s 128-million miles away.

The rover Curiosity landed on Mars on August 6th, 2012. Since then it’s explored sites called Yellowknife Bay, Mount Sharp, and the Zabriskie Plateau. It’s found evidence of an ancient lakebed that NASA says once held fresh water…a key ingredient for life.

The picture above is a selfie taken by Curiosity on top of a sandstone site called Windjana. Here’s more on that particular site and what the rover is doing.

I did a story  in 2012 on the rover and how a University of Tulsa professor is using the data collected by Curiosity to learn more about rocks here on Earth.

It’s incredible that Earthlings designed the rover and sent it millions of miles away to a barren planet. Science never ceases to amaze me.

Ew. Whale hips do what?!?!

One of the biggest pieces of evidence for me about the validity of evolution is that whales have hips. You read that right…whales. have. hips. Their hipbones are underneath all that blubber, precisely where they would be if the whale had legs. Whale ancestors once roamed the land and needed legs. When they went back into the water they didn’t need those legs anymore but they kept the hips and femur. What’s so cool about evolution is that it finds new ways to use old structures.

So what do whales use their hips for now? According to this article, by Carl Zimmer again, it’s for sex. Apparently those hips help control the whale’s penis. (I guess if you don’t have any hands…) Anywho, evolution is downright amazing. Read that article and you’ll never look at whales the same way again.

Greatest Name for a Dinosaur. Ever.

How about this, Dreadnoughtus schrani. That’s the name of a new dinosaur discovered in southern Argentina. Brian Switek has an article on it here.

Dreadnoughtus lived between 84-million and 64-million years ago. It weighed an astonishing 60 tons and was 86 feet long and get this, researchers say it was still growing when it died. So onebigasaurus.

This discovery is a good example of the deliberate pace of the scientific process. The first bones were unearthed in 2005 and it took four years before scientists felt they had enough bones to get a good idea of the size of the animal. So that’s 2009, here we are five years later and the dino has a name and is out in the public eye. Science works slow, it doesn’t hit the accelerator just because someone wants to grab the spotlight.

Photo courtesy of National Geographic. Photograph by Robert Clark, Excel Magazine, Drexel University

 

 

Fish Out of Water

One of my favorite writers is Carl Zimmer. He’s written more than a dozen books and blogs at The Loom for National Geographic. Here he’s writing about scientists taking a closer look at how our fish ancestors could have transitioned from fins in the water to using those fins on dry land.

The shoulder and fins of a fish were made for a smooth swimming motion but Zimmer writes about a study that discovered a fish who could change its bone structure to support a walking motion. This discovery, Zimmer writes, backs up what paleontologists have seen in fossils.

It’s a great read that connects the fossils of the past with the fish of today.

 

10 Bucks Supports Science Education

 

If you can spare $10 here’s a great way to support science education in Oklahoma. Oklahomans for Excellence in Science Education promotes and protects science education in our public schools. They also sponsor continuing education for our science teachers. I can’t think of a better way to support science in Oklahoma.

http://www.oklascience.org