Category Archives: Science Education

This Scientist is OK- Dr. Lynn Soreghan

Dr. Lynn Soreghan is a geologist at the University of Oklahoma. She studies what’s called deep time climate, basically we’re talking about Earth’s climate from hundreds of millions of years ago. She does it by studying ancient dust that has now solidified and become rock.

In this video she talks about why she loves geology, what ancient dust particles tell you about climate of the past, and what she thinks about the state of science education in Oklahoma. You can really see at the 2:52 mark as she tries to find the words to describe her frustration with some of the meddling that goes on in science education in our state.

What is the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum?

We talk a lot about the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History here at SIO. This outstanding story is produced by the museum. It explains what it is, what it does, and how its mission serves Oklahoma.

This is a great look at why the Sam Noble Museum is unique and why Oklahoma is better off because of it.

The Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History is a fantastic place for the kids. Spend the day and learn all about Oklahoma’s rich history.

How you can help find Fossils

If you’ve ever wanted to work with fossils and help paleontologists make new discoveries this is the story for you. The Vertebrate Paleontology lab at the OSU Center for Health Sciences in Tulsa needs volunteers. You don’t need to have any experience, just a love for science. You’ll also get to work with Dr. Anne Weil.

Volunteers work Wednesday-Friday, 9 to 5 sifting through rock and soil looking for fossils.

Click here for a more information, as well as how to get in touch with the volunteer coordinator.

Calling Future Paleontologists

Do you know a high schooler who loves fossils or wants to be a paleontologist? The Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History has a fantastic program aimed just for them. It’s called Paleo Expedition and the museum is looking for twelve kids to take part.

They’ll get hands on training at geological and paleontological sites in Oklahoma, including the famed Black Mesa site. Best of all, it’s free. As in $0 to attend! The deadline to apply is March 27th.

But wait, there’s more. The Sam Noble Museum has another program called Oklahoma Science Adventure for students in 6-8th grade. The goal is to show the kids what science is like out in the field. They’ll research fossils as well as live animals. It’s also free! 

I really could go on an on about the programs offered through the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum, they also have one just for teachers. But your best bet is to visit the museum’s explorology website. It’s chalk full on information for parents and teachers.

Climate Change Made Easy to Understand

Here’s one of the better produced videos you’ll see on climate change, not so much because of the flashy b-roll but because the scientist cuts right to the chase. It’s part of a series called Climate Change Elevator Pitch and comes courtesy of Climate Denial Crock of the Week. The host of the series is John Cook. He’s the Climate Communication Fellow for the Global Change Institute at the University of Queensland in Australia. He’s one of many people behind Skeptical Science, a fantastic resource to learn about climate change. You can spend hours there and barely touch the surface.

Anti-Science Bill Update

We’ve been following an anti-science bill proposed in the state legislature. Sen. Josh Brecheen (R-District 6) is author of the bill. It’s his latest attempt to flush out climate change and evolution among other topics.

Oklahomans for Excellence in Science Education does a great job staying on top of these bills. They say the best way to stop it is to contact the committee members where the bill starts. Here’s what OESE has on their website about SB 665:

Senate Bill 665, Oklahoma Science Education Act by Brecheen is the only legislation that directly attacks the teaching of sound science introduced in the legislature this year. Deadline for filing bills was January 22. The bill is virturally identical to a bill filed by Brecheen last year that died in the Senate Education Committee. Analysis of the bill by Rich Brougton is here. A description of the bill and its history is on the NCSE site. Additional information at the Sensuous Curmudgeon and Science is OK. We will let you know if and when it is assigned to a committee. Instructions for tracking bills can be found at Bill tracking in the Oklahoma legislature. There are several bills concerning science standards that we will keep an eye on as well. 
Action Alert: SB 665 has been assigned to the Senate Education Committee. Please contact the committee members and let them know you oppose the bill. Here is contact info for that committee: 
John Ford, Chair, 521-5634, fordj@oksenate.gov 
Ron Sharp, Vice Chair, 521-5539, sharp@oksenate.gov
Earl Garrison, 521-5533, whitep@oksenate.gov
Jim Halligan, 521-5572, halligan@oksenate.gov
Clark Jolley, 521-5622,jolley@oksenate.gov 
Susan Paddack, 521-5541, paddack@oksenate.gov
Marty Quinn, 521-5555, quinn@oksenate.gov
Wayne Shaw, 521-5574, shaw@oksenate.gov
Jason Smalley, 521-5547, smalley@oksenate.gov
John Sparks, 521-5553, sparks@oksenate.gov
Gary Stanislawski, 521-5624, stanislawski@oksenate.gov
Roger Thompson, 521-5588, thompson@oksenate.gov

What Scientists Think About Science Education

So what do scientists think about science education in this country? I’ve talked with a number of Oklahoma scientists over the past several months and they all seem to say the same thing…not enough critical thinking and too much meddling by politicians. As one biology prof. told me, “If they stay out of it and let the teachers teach we’d be fine.”

This video has comments from four Oklahoma scientists. In order of appearance…

Dr. Richard Cifelli– Paleontologist, University of Oklahoma and Curator for the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History

Dr. Charles Brown– Biologist, University of Tulsa

Dr. Amanda Falk– Paleoornithologist- Southwestern Oklahoma State University

Dr. Richard Broughton– Assistant Professor at the Oklahoma Biological Survey and in the Department of Zoology at the University of Oklahoma

 

Let’s Stop A “Sham” Bill

I wrote previously about Senate bill 665. Sen. Josh Brecheen (R-District 6) says he wants to help teachers with controversial topics (essentially, science that he doesn’t like) but really it’s just an anti-science bill.

Oklahomans for Excellence in Science Education has a fantastic post on why this is a bad bill. They call it a “sham” and point out that “no teacher group or scientific organization supports this bill“. In a nutshell, the OESE says this about the proposed bill, “In effect this bill would encourage students to simply reject parts of science they don’t happen to like. This will clearly confuse our students about the nature of science, inhibit their ability to understand important scientific issues facing society, and reduce their competitiveness for science related jobs.” Very well said.

The OESE will be tracking this bill as it makes its way through the legislature. They say the best way to stop it is by contacting the committee members where the bill will first be heard. Once those names are announced the OESE will post their names and contact information on their website.

This is super-duper important. Our state cannot afford to have bills like this become law.

Anti-science Bill Proposed

A bill has been proposed in the Oklahoma senate that is, without a doubt, anti-science. Senate bill 665 was written by Sen. Josh Brecheen (R-District 6). The bill would create what Sen. Brecheen calls the Oklahoma Science Education Act. A bunch of words that say one thing but mean something entirely different.

SB 665 would force school districts and the state to “assist teachers to find effective ways to present the science curriculum as it addresses scientific controversies.” The bill does not mention what those controversies may be but, when you understand Sen. Brecheen’s history, it’s very clear evolution and climate change are two of his targets.

The National Center for Science Education has a good write up on Sen. Brecheen’s attempts to give biology teachers a way out of teaching evolution.

This all follows the roadmap set forth in the Wedge Document. It was a campaign introduced in the late 90’s by the Discovery Institute. The point of the Wedge Document is to show how a wedge can and should be driven between public opinion and policy makers to create a more theistic approach to science education, specifically evolution.

You can contact Senator Brecheen at brecheen@oksenate.gov. Please let him know that Oklahoma needs more science education and less interference from lawmakers.

Born To Do Science

(A note from Dan: Born to do Science actually meets every other Sunday. Here’s the schedule.)

Monty Harper knows how to make science fun. He sings. He writes songs. He plays guitar. He puts it all together to produce songs about science for kids.

But wait, there’s more…he also hosts science program for kids at the Stillwater Public Library called Born to do Science. The first in this year’s series was last Sunday featuring Allan Axelrod, a scientist with Oklahoma State University who is working on how to teach computers to predict. The series continues on Sundays through February. The topics include the Higgs Boson, ancient water fleas, and how the body regulates its chemistry.

It’s free and lots of fun. Take your kids, you’ll both enjoy it.