Tag Archives: Tulsa

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


This Scientist is OK- Dr. Jim Derby

Dr. Jim Derby is a geologist. He’s worked in the petroleum industry and taught at the University of Tulsa. He’s very proud of the textbook he authored about the geology that makes up most of North America. I always enjoy getting the chance to speak with him. He’s definitely an OK scientist.

Hooray for this Tulsa Doc

Dr. Brian Raley is a pediatrician in Tulsa. He’s very outspoken about vaccines and making sure all of his patients are up to date. He does not see children whose parents will not let them get vaccinated.

Today he posted this on his Facebook page, Avalon Park Pediatrics:

The hash tag ‪#‎byebyefelecia‬ was confusing to me. So I searched vaccines and Felecia. 


-Yes I am screaming

Crazies like Felecia. They make reasonable people doubt. I see it everyday. I did not know who she was but a lot of you did. 

“Are you sure it is ok.” “Can we split up the shots.” Is it ok because my baby has a sniffle.” “Is that too many at once.” 

Every single day. 

I encourage you all to post on FB every time your child gets their vaccines. Boring. Yep. But important. 

The majority has to be vocal. Not just the minority. 

Turn the tide. 


That’s downright amazing. Good for him!

Let’s get behind this, no matter who your doctor is, post when you get your child vaccinated. Like Dr. Raley says, “Turn the tide“.

Women In Science

Have you seen the commercial that depicts a little girl growing up, along the way getting more and more discouragement about pursuing science? She’s told not to get her dress dirty or to be careful and let her brother handle a power drill. At the end, it looks like she’s taking notes about a science fair but, really, she’s just putting on lipstick. It packs a powerful message about girls, science, and societal expectations.

The National Science Foundation conducted a study that found girls and boys have the same attitude about science in elementary school. By fourth grade 66% of the girls and 68% of the boys showed an interest in science. But, to me, the telling aspect of the study found that both boys and girls in the second grade draw a scientist as a man, specifically as a white man.

Research done by the National Girls Collaborative Project showed that women are more likely to go into the biological sciences as opposed to computer sciences or engineering. As an example, 44% of the chemists and material scientists in the United States are women but only 4% of the mechanical engineers are women.

So why the discrepancy? Researchers say there are number of factors from cultural norms to ethnicity to economics. I’ve interviewed some very successful female scientists in the past few months. In the video above they explain what they think needs to happen to get more women in science and why we need to take a good long look in the mirror and make some serious societal changes.

Flu Vaccine is Safe and Ready to Protect Your Family

Have you received your flu vaccine yet this year? How about your children? If not, please…please call your doctor or health department to get vaccinated. It’s the best way to protect your family.

I know there are people who say, ‘The flu vaccine caused my Aunt Melba to get the flu once.’ Or, ‘The flu is nothing more than a money-maker for big pharma.’ All I can say is wrong on all accounts. The flu vaccine does not cause anyone to get the flu because the vaccine only contains a dead virus. Dead. Not alive. Dead.

It’s especially important for anyone who is able to get the vaccine to do so in order to protect those who cannot. It’s called herd immunity. Basically, if 9 out of 10 people get vaccinated, that 10th person is less likely to get sick because the 9 people who are vaccinated are keeping the virus at bay.

I talked with Dr. Amy Middleman with the OU Health Sciences Center. She encourages everyone to get vaccinated.

I could refer you to the CDC for all of the information and stats on the flu you can handle, but there’s another site you should check out. Voices For Vaccines is by parents, for parents. It’s straight talk to help parents get a better understanding of vaccines. You can read stories from parents about why they changed their minds about vaccines.

Please get your flu shot.


A Coral Reef in Tulsa

A 20-minute drive (give or take) can take you 300-million years into the past. Redbud Valley Nature Preserve is a fantastic place to take a walk and learn about the area’s geologic history. Hundreds of millions of years ago eastern Oklahoma was covered by an inland sea. The water helped create this amazing geology.

Redbud Valley has a nature trail that winds through a woodland area and small prairie but the best part is the Bluff Trail. According to Susan Carr, a naturalist at the Oxley Nature Center, the cliff is made up of two layers of rock that date to the Pennsylvanian age which lasted from about 318-299 million years ago.

Redbud Valley Nature Preserve

The upper layer of the rock, according to Carr, is about 12-feet thick. You don’t have to look hard to see a lot of holes. Those holes are called Vugs and indicate that this area was once home to an ancient coral reef.

Redbud Valley Nature Preserve Redbud Valley Nature Preserve

Along the cliff face you’ll find rock that’s older than the coral reef. This is a layer of shale. It’s formed when minerals such as quartz, mica, or pyrite settle at the bottom of a body of water. The minerals mix with decaying organic matter in the mud. The pressure builds, lots of layers form, and the mixture eventually become rock thanks to a process called lithification.

Redbud Valley Nature Preserve Redbud Valley Nature Preserve

Who says time travel isn’t possible?!? I can’t even get my mind around how long it took to form these rocks. Geology is simply amazing.

Redbud Valley Nature Preserve is open Wednesday through Sunday from 8am-5pm. It’s a great place to spend the afternoon (unfortunately, dogs are not allowed).

Susan Carr will host a Geology walk on Oct. 19th, 1:30-3pm.




Teachers Learn About Climate Change

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.

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.