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Teachers often feel the need to use supplementary materials when covering climate change, particularly because the topic is often left unaddressed in state science standards, curricula, and textbooks. Unfortunately, climate change deniers have developed and are distributing supplementary materials (such as lesson plans and DVDs) that foster confusion about the occurrence, causes, and consequences of climate change.
The Next Generation Science Standards represent a tremendous opportunity to strengthen science education in the United States, but also a tremendous risk.
The National Center for Science Education (NCSE) is expanding its online video presence with its new YouTube channel at http://www.youtube.com/NatCen4ScienceEd.
Here you'll find reports from the evolution/creationism wars—footage of contentious testimony, landmark and illuminating speeches, conference coverage, excerpts from television appearances, and presentations. In the future, look for classroom videos, tutorials for teachers, videos contributed by NCSE members, and much more.
When you visit our YouTube channel, check out a couple of key areas. At top right you'll see the latest, hot video. (In this case, executive director Dr. Genie Scott explaining evolution to the Texas Board of Education.) Below this video window you'll see the Playlist area. We've broken down our initial offerings into different categories—Genie Scott's testimony before the Texas Board of Education; the board's chairman, Don McLeroy, expounding on why evolution is false; and some light-hearted coverage of our recent Project Steve celebration.
Please explore the site, tell us what you like (and don't), and suggest improvements and changes. Send your comments to Robert Luhn at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The word "evolution" can evoke a variety of meanings, especially for students and members of the general public. For some, evolution is equated with natural selection. Others think that evolution addresses the origin of life. Still others impose a distinction between micro-evolution and macro-evolution. Part of the issue stems from an unclear understanding of what evolution is in a scientific sense.
According to the National Science Board's 2002 study Science and Engineering Indicators, only one-third of Americans can adequately explain what it means to study something scientifically. As a nation, we are easy prey for those promoting pseudoscientific claims, and the National Science Board survey blames education and the media for this.
Whether providing students with an opportunity to evaluate the scientific credibility of creationism actually advances their understanding of evolution depends on the level of students, the objective of the assignment, and how the assignment is designed. Research indicates (Verhey 2005) college students gain a better understanding of why evolution is accepted science, and why creationism, creation science, and intelligent design are not appropriate scientific topics when given an opportunity to examine antievolutionist claims.
One source of confusion about the status of the science or theory of evolution stems from the difference between the "everyday" meaning of the word "theory" and the scientific meaning the word.
Below we list some common misconceptions about the term "theory" and describe a classroom activity that can help students rethink their understanding of this term.
Misconception 1 "Evolution is 'just a theory'".
Misconception 2 "Theories become facts when they are well supported and/or proven."