Thursday, August 27, 2009
The Arctic Circle program, a series of artist and scientist-led expeditions to remote and fascinating destinations, seeks expressions of interest from educators, at the high school level, to participate in the Educational & Outreach component of The Arctic Circle 2009 (expedition Oct 5th- 22nd, 2009). Science and art educators may join this pilot project where their classrooms will correspond with the expedition crew comprising 18 international artists, architects, and scientists. The program procedure will involve email/ blog correspondence (questions and comments from classrooms) to be published on The Arctic Circle Blog, leading up to and during the expedition, and responded to by our crew so we may explore, together, many topics of interest. Ideally, The Arctic Circle program will look to communicate with collaborating art and science classrooms from the same school. Correspondence will be accomplished during the expedition via satellite communication. The Arctic Circle Edu-Blog will be updated daily for classroom interaction.
Educators interested to become involved are asked to email a brief letter of interest and introduction (~150-300 words) to firstname.lastname@example.org before Sept 10, 2009. Selection will be made Sept. 15, 2009. Those selected to participate in this pilot project will be given a full set of participation guidelines. There will be a network of ~30 educators selected for this project from North America, the EU, and Asia.
Questions may be directed to email@example.com. Program details may be seen at www.thearcticcircle.org.
The Arctic Circle 2009 Education & Outreach program aims to encourage a discourse between the student--the educator--the artist--and the scientist.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
- A Teacher's Guide to the Kaweah River Canyon, Sierra Roof Pendants, and Crystal Cave by Mike Martin and Richard Goode
- A Teacher's Guide to the Tule River Basin, Dome Rock, and California Hot Springs, by Mike Martin and Richard Goode
- A Teacher's Guide to the Roadside Geology of Kings Canyon National Park and Giant Sequoia National Monument by Garry Hayes
- A Teacher's Guide to the Fusegates at Terminus Dam and Kaweah Reservoir by Mike Martin and Richard Goode
- A Teacher's Guide to Fossil Collecting along Interstate 5 in the Kettleman Hills Area, by Mike Martin and Richard Goode
Sales of the guidebook "A Teacher's Guidebook to the Southern Sierra: Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park, the Great Western Divide, and the Sierra Nevada Foothills" support the Far West Section scholarships for earth science students,
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Position Statement on Teaching Evolution, from the Geological Society of America. There is a great deal of good info in this short statement. Scientific ignorance is increasing in our society (and indeed has always been there), and earth scientists need to take a more active stance in combating the efforts to inject ID and Creation-Science into public school instruction.
The Geological Society of America strongly supports teaching evolution and the directly related concept of deep time as part of science curricula. GSA opposes teaching creationism alongside evolution in any science classroom. The evolution of life on Earth stands as one of the central concepts of modern science. During the past two centuries, research in geology, paleontology, and biology has produced an increasingly detailed and consistent picture of how life on Earth has evolved.
Science, by definition, is a method of learning about the natural universe by asking questions in such a way that they can be answered empirically and verifiably. If a question cannot be framed so that the answer can be tested, and the test results can be reproduced by others, then it is not science. Creationism, whether in its earlier form as creation “science” or its more recent guise of intelligent design, attempts to explain complicated phenomena of the natural world by invoking a creator or designer. Creationism is not science because it invokes supernatural phenomena that cannot be tested. It therefore has no place in a science curriculum. Because science is limited to explaining natural phenomena through the use of empirical evidence, it cannot provide religious or ultimate explanations. Science teachers should not advocate any religions interpretations of nature and should be nonjudgmental about the personal beliefs of students.
This position statement (1) summarizes GSA’s views regarding the teaching of evolution; (2) defines evolution and discusses the physical and biological evidence for evolution; (3) describes the concepts of intelligent design and creation science, and why they are not science; and (4) provides a communications tool for GSA member use.
The rock record provides a treasure trove of fossils, and by the early 1800s, geologists had used physical relationships among rocks to establish the basis for the geologic time scale. They understood that the fossil record shows major changes in life forms over time. In 1859, Darwin’s On the Origin of Species showed that these changes can be explained by natural selection operating on random variations in organisms – the process we now know as biological evolution. Since then, we have continued to uncover details of life’s history, and biologists have elucidated the genetic and molecular basis for evolution. Evolution is not a static idea but a growing concept added to by scientific observation, testing, and debate. Scientific discoveries in these fields and related disciplines have progressively sharpened our understanding of evolution, which is now well established as a well‐tested fact. Evolution is accepted by the scientific community because all available evidence supports the central conclusions of evolutionary science: that life on Earth has evolved and species share common ancestors and genomes.
The discovery of radioactivity in the twentieth century and its use for measuring ages of rocks has made it possible to quantify the age of Earth and to estimate rates of many geologic processes. Many rocks of over a billion years in age can now be dated with great precision. The ages of many rocks have been confirmed by repeated tests in multiple laboratories, often using different isotopic decay schemes. The results are consistent with the processes that uplift the land and cause the erosion and deposition of sediments. Geologists can now identify rocks that record hundreds of millions of years of sedimentation by the slow layer‐by‐layer accumulation of mud, the rhythmic rise and fall of tides on ancient continental margins, or the slow back‐and‐forth meandering of rivers in ancient valleys. Organisms that grow only a few millimeters each year have formed reefs hundreds of meters thick. Additionally, techniques that date more recent deposits have been repeatedly and accurately compared to known historical events.
Studies of Earth’s history, including the evolution of life on Earth, aid not only in the search for natural resources, but also in the quest to understand how the Earth‐life system functions. The geologic record reveals how forms of life have responded to past environmental change, sometimes migrating, sometimes evolving, and sometimes becoming extinct. Understanding evolution has made possible many of the medical advances that save human lives and has furthered agricultural developments that feed the world.
The short‐term adaptive evolution demonstrated by the ability of viruses to evolve and adapt to new vaccines, or simply to new environmental conditions, is readily comparable to longer‐termed evolution of more advanced species.
From before the time of Darwin, some people have objected to and challenged those findings of science that were considered to conflict with certain traditional religious beliefs about creation. Creation “science” and intelligent design have emerged from religious thought, and because they invoke supernatural phenomena, they cannot frame questions that can be tested scientifically. Therefore, by definition, the notions of creation “science” and intelligent design are not science. The immensity of geologic time and the evolutionary origin of species are concepts that pervade modern geology, biology, and other sciences that support human life. These concepts must therefore be treated as central themes of science courses. Without an adequate knowledge of geologic time and the evolutionary origin of species, students will not understand the processes that shape the natural environment in which they live. As a result, they will lack the understanding that is essential for making wise decisions regarding the environment upon which our survival depends.
The Geological Society of America encourages use of this position statement in dialogue about teaching evolution in schools. GSA members may want also want to refer to a GSA publication entitled The Nature of Science and the Scientific Method (http://www.geosociety.org/educate/NatureScience.pdf).
Evolution and the directly related concept of deep time must be part of science curricula at all levels, including K‐12, college, and post‐graduate education.
Creationism, whether in its earlier form as creation “science” or its more recent guise of intelligent design, has no place in a science curriculum and should not be taught alongside evolution in any science classroom.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR GSA AND ITS MEMBERS TO HELP IMPLEMENT RECOMMENDATIONS
To facilitate implementation of the goals of this position statement, the Geological Society of America recommends the following action:
When discussing the importance of teaching evolution and geologic time with school boards, legislative committees, and other groups likely to include individuals with strong fundamental religious conviction, it may be necessary to argue that literal interpretations of creation stories do not constitute science, but we must respect the differing viewpoints and interests of others.
1. The separation of science and religion that we advocate does not mean that science and religion are incompatible. Many scientists who study evolution are religious; several major religions accept the importance of evolution; and some religious scholars find evolution fertile ground for the development of theological and spiritual understanding.
2. Scientists do not and cannot claim to prove or disprove the existence of God or other major tenets of religious traditions.
3. The core concepts of evolution are firmly established, but our understanding of evolution is itself changing and, as with any field of active research, there will be debate about unresolved issues at the frontiers of evolutionary science. Our understanding of the relationships between the evolution of species and the ecological systems that sustain them is progressing. But instead of weakening the case for evolution, scientific debate on these topics shows how science advances. As those controversies are resolved, the answers enrich our understanding of evolutionary processes.
4. Some of the arguments used to support the idea of an intelligent design focus on issues that are not well understood and claim that some action by a creator is needed to explain gaps in our understanding. Scientists find that it is generally wiser to admit that the gap exists and to work to understand how to fill it. For example, Darwin had no way of explaining how traits were transmitted from generation to generation, but Mendel’s later discovery of genes paved the way for one of the most robust pillars of modern evolutionary understanding.
5. The ability of future generations to cope with mounting environmental, agricultural and human health challenges will depend upon how effectively they can master the scientific method and utilize the vast body of knowledge we now call science. The science taught in our schools must be the best the scientific community can offer. Science must not be confused with religious claims, no matter how well intended the latter may be.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Did you ever go to one of those summer camps where they gave you a piece of string, a straw, a stick, a rubber band, and then told you to make a can opener out of it? Or have you ever been an astronaut stranded in space who had to make a carbon dioxide scrubber out of duct tape and technical manuals? If so, I have a question for you at the end of the post.
What happens to community science knowledge in times like this where there is no money for science teaching, none for field trips, no resources? Well, in our case we (my community college science division professors) are putting together a program for local fifth graders in which they will come onto our campus for their "field trip" to see real live scientists who will be giving them demonstrations and hands-on lab experiences. We don't have grants or really any other resources, and the presenters are all volunteers. We are calling the program SEEK, for Science Encounters for Elementary Kids, and I could use some ideas.
Here's the question: you are given one standard geology lab, with the usual maps, fossils, rocks and minerals (oh, and a working seismometer), and you have 35 fifth-graders for 45 minutes. What would YOU do to open up the world of the earth sciences to these kids? I have some ideas, but I would sure like to hear from folks out in the geoblogosphere and elsewhere.
Thanks in advance!
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Thanks to Arizona Geology and Geology.com for the tip
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
From GSA Education Division:
Dear GSA Campus Representative,
We are pleased to announce that Subaru of America, Inc., in partnership with GSA, has funded a scholarship program to benefit undergraduate minorities considering a degree in the geosciences. The Subaru Minority Student Scholarship Program will provide $1,000 to a student at an accredited university or college in each of the six GSA Regional Sections. The purpose of the award is to encourage minority students to continue studies in the geosciences as a possible degree choice. We would like campus reps to nominate one student whom they believe will benefit and be encouraged to continue in the geosciences by receiving this award.
The eligible student must be a member of a minority group, must have taken at least two introductory (first year) geoscience courses, be enrolled in additional geoscience courses in his/her upcoming school year, and be a student member of GSA. The campus rep must verify that the student has been and is currently enrolled in the geoscience classes, and that the student is a minority. A ‘minority’ is described as being of Hispanic, African-American or Black, Asian, American-Indian, Alaskan Native, or Hawaiian Native/Pacific Islander ethnicity/race. Each campus rep will be allowed and encouraged to electronically submit one completed student nomination form (see the Word document below) from their school for the Subaru scholarship by 15 August 2009. The student will need to countersign the nomination. Please email the completed one-page application to Jennifer Nocerino at firstname.lastname@example.org. You will receive an email confirming receipt of the form. Campus reps will be notified of the winners in early September, which should allow time for the student to make plans to attend the Annual Meeting if possible. There will be no stipulations on the use of the $1,000.00 award money, although they should be encouraged to use it to support their studies.
This year’s recipients will also receive a free student registration to the 2009 GSA Annual Meeting in Portland, OR, 18-21 October. We would suggest encouraging students to also apply for travel grants (including the minority travel grant) in the event that they are chosen for the Subaru scholarship and wish to attend the Annual Meeting. Any recipients of the scholarship who can attend the Annual Meeting will be publicly awarded the scholarship by Subaru.
Please contact Jennifer Nocerino at email@example.com for further information or questions. We hope you will take advantage of this exciting new opportunity for minority students sponsored by Subaru of America, Inc.
Education and Outreach
The Geological Society of America
3300 Penrose Place, Boulder, CO 80301
firstname.lastname@example.org; 303-357-1036; Fax 303-357-1073
Subaru Minority Student Scholarship Program
Nomination Form – Deadline: 15 August 2009
GSA Section? ____Cord ____RM ____ NC ____ SC ____ NE ____ SE
Campus Rep: Name: ____________________________________________
Phone: _______________ email: ____________________________________________
Nominated Student: Name: ______________________________________ GSA #: _________
Phone: _______________ email: ____________________________________________
The above nominated student is deserving of the Subaru Minority Student Scholarship Award because:
I, the GSA Campus Representative, do hereby certify that the above student nominee has taken geoscience courses for one year and is enrolled in additional geoscience courses in his/her upcoming school year.
I, the above nominated student, do hereby certify that I am a member of a minority group as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau.
Please email form to: email@example.com or fax to: 303-357-1073. ATTN: Jennifer Nocerino.
Monday, August 3, 2009
- Explore Geoscience CD-ROMs for teachers, with background materials and student activities, diagrams, images and 3-D models. Our Geoscience CDs are easy-to-use, curriculum-linked geoscience teaching resources in a variety of topics for educators across the USA and beyond, developed by educators with classroom teaching experience.
- Lesson plans, resource links, and materials at teachers' fingertips via our Education Web page
- Field experiences in geologically dynamic locations for teachers only through GSA's Teacher GeoVenture trips
- Workshops supplying educators with activities and resources to use in the earth science classroom
- GSA's Distinguished Earth Science Teacher in Residence, who develops resources, maintains the Education Web page, and assists teachers in need of ideas or geoscience career information who contact GSA.