Posted on April 25, 2016 * Comments

A fossil!

It’s the ophiuroid Geocoma carinata! (Synonyms include Ophiocten kelheimense, Ophiopinna derecta, Ophiopsammus kelheimens, Sinosura derecta, Sinosura kelheimense, and Sinosura kelheimensis, so give yourself partial credit if you mentioned any of them, but not full credit, since these are all now defunct names.)

Posted on April 22, 2016 * Comments

Aw.Cute lemur videos, the next internet craze. You read it here first.

A philosophical question for you: Why do stories about dinosaur extinction bring out the punster in headline writers? In other news, we have a wealth of interesting stories for you this week plus a bonus adorable video. WAAAAY cuter than kittens.

Posted on April 22, 2016 * Comments

It’s that time of year again. The time when the Earth starts to wake up. Flowers are popping, bees are buzzing, and everyone (humans and animals alike) is emerging from their homes, rubbing their eyes and thinking…yikes, where have I been all year?!

Posted on April 22, 2016 * Comments

A fossil!

From the Jurassic it came! But what is it? If you think you know the answer, write it on a postcard or a 300 kV FEI Titan Themis scanning/transmission electron microscope and a FEI Quanta 3D FIB/SEM dual-beam focused ion beam instrument—my eyesight isn’t what it used to be, and I think I may need the bifocals—and mail them to NCSE, 1904 Franklin Street, Suite 600, Oakland CA 94612. Or just leave a comment below.

Posted on April 21, 2016 * Comments

In Parts 1 and 2, we examined AltSchool’s ideas about how to “disrupt” education using data and technology.  But the problems with education are not only due to a lack of technology, and they are certainly not due to teachers, teacher tenure, teachers’ unions, flawed lesson plans, or grading rubrics. The real problem is poverty. 

Posted on April 21, 2016 * Comments

The New York Times published eight essays as part of its “Week of Misconceptions” series in early April.

Posted on April 20, 2016 * Comments

Last time we examined an article by Rebecca Mead about AltSchool, a “disruptive” Silicon Valley educational system founded by a former Google executive, Max Ventilla. Let’s look now at a few of Ventilla’s statements to get a better sense of how AltSchool’s educational “disruption” happens.

Mead’s article quotes Ventilla about the value of foreign language instruction:

Posted on April 20, 2016 * Comments

Thomas Henry Huxley

Under the microscope at present is the following passage, which is widely attributed in creationist circles to Darwin’s bulldog, Thomas Henry Huxley: “It is clear that the doctrine of evolution is directly antagonistic to that of creation … Evolution, if consistently accepted, makes it impossible to believe the Bible.” In part 1, I identified the source of the first half of the passage: the article on evolution in the ninth edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica, which contains the sentence “It is clear that the doctrine of evolution is directly antagonistic to that of creation.” The problem is that the encyclopedia’s article on evolution is divided into two parts, and while the first part, on “Evolution in Biology,” is signed with the initials THH, the second part, on “Evolution in Philosophy,” is the part that contains the sentence in question. And it is signed with the initials JS, which stand for James Sully (1842–1923), then (i.e., before 1878, when the article was first published) early in his career as philosopher and psychologist.

Posted on April 19, 2016 * Comments

A recent article in The New Yorker exposed some interesting aspects about why educational “reforms” often fail. Highlighting the efforts of a Bay Area private school system started by a former tech executive, the author, Rebecca Mead, gets into great detail of how the “disruption” that upended the cab and hotel industries across America, is a tougher road to tread with schools.

Posted on April 19, 2016 * Comments

There are a lot of reasons why I love funding teacher requests. The purpose of NCSE's Science Booster Club Project is fundraising as much as it is outreach, and the purpose of the fundraising is to support teachers. Although we’ve recently received requests for professional development scholarships, what we do right now to support teachers (and avoid brawls with school administrators) is fund durable equipment requests. Last month we managed to raise enough microgrant money to get durable equipment valued under $300 into four local science classrooms. Crowded science classrooms.