Who doesn’t like digging for dinos? I had the chance this summer to go on a real-life, honest to goodness dinosaur dig in the Oklahoma Panhandle. It was in Black Mesa near Kenton, OK. That’s about thisclose to the New Mexico and Colorado state lines.
Attention all elementary and middle school teachers…here’s a great opportunity to learn about life sciences and do a little fossil hunting.
Janessa Doucette is a PhD candidate at the University of Oklahoma. She’s hosting a free workshop series called Oklahoma Educators Evolve. It’ll take place on Saturday Oct. 17th and Saturday Oct. 24th. The first one is a fossil hunting trip to the rich grounds at White Mound in Sulphur. The second is a workshop in Oklahoma City. You’ll study the nature of science, biological concepts, and paleontology, “We will provide you with a foundation for these concepts, as well as provide you with a variety of ways to successfully teach these topics in your classroom. Participants will leave this workshop with their very own classroom collection of fossils and fossil casts with which to enjoy science learning with their students!”
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.
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.
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 email@example.com. Please let him know that Oklahoma needs more science education and less interference from lawmakers.
I have previously written about Oklahomans for Excellence in Science Education but I wanted to post a little more. Click the video below to hear from Dr. Victor Hutchison. He’s a past-president of the OESE and the George Lynn Cross Research Professor Emeritus in the Department of Zoology at the University of Oklahoma.
He talks about OESE’s mission and why it was originally formed. The main goal, he says, is to protect teachers and students from lawmakers and lobbyists who try to suppress scientific knowledge. Dr. Hutchison says, “We hate to see the anti-science movement because it really prevents our students from getting the proper education in today’s competitive world.”
Oklahomans for Excellence in Science Education recently hosted a workshop for science teachers from Oklahoma and Texas. The teachers were given a first hand account of how the climate is changing and some of the best ways to teach it to their students. They were also given an update on various state laws that regulate how certain science topics are taught. I don’t understand why this is so controversial….wait a minute, yeah, it’s all about politics and money. There’s no doubt the climate is changing across the globe. The big question now is what are we going to do about it? I just hope it’s not too late.
Thanks to the OESE for letting me drop in on the workshop. Here’s a little story about my visit.
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.
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.