09.27.2016

For months now, we’ve been telling you about the fun events that NCSE's Science Booster Clubs have been bringing to farmers markets, Halloween haunts, and county fairs. The Booster Clubs have reached more than 50,000 people in the last 18 months. That’s a feel-good story, right? But do these efforts actually change anything? Could they possibly have any effect on the notoriously low level of science literacy among U.S. adults?

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NCSE's annual raft trip down the Grand Canyon just returned, and Teacher Scholarship winner Crystal Davis offered to describe her experience on the river with us. Enjoy, and consider donating to the scholarship fund to support future trips like this.

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09.21.2016

A 1924 Dodge sedan like Stumpy Reed'sThe idiom “take a back seat” means “to be given a less important role,” and it was employed accordingly in 2005 by the headline writer for The New York Times for Cornelia Dean’s article entitled “Evolution Takes a Back Seat in U.S. Classes.” Quoting NCSE’s founding executive director Eugenie C. Scott among others, Dean convincingly argued that evolution is often downplayed or omitted in public school science classes: “In districts around the country, even when evolution is in the curriculum it may not be in the classroom, according to researchers who follow the issue.” A few years later, a rigorous national public survey of high school biology teachers would confirm the anecdotal and impressionistic conclusions of Dean’s article. I mention the article now because of a rather more literal case of evolution in the back seat.

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The path of some scientists is to do science. The path of other scientists is to help inspire people to see the beauty in science. I realized through working with the National Center for Science Education’s Science Booster Club that I am meant to be part of the latter group. And now I am.

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Charles DarwinIn early August 2016, NCSE reported on the results of the latest of the National Surveys on Energy and Environment. Respondents were asked questions such as, “Is there solid evidence that the average temperature on earth has been getting warmer over the past four decades?” (66% said yes: not so bad) and “Is the earth getting warmer because of human activity such as burning fossil fuels, or mostly because of natural patterns in the earth’s environment?” (46% of those who said yes to the previous question chose human activity: not so good). Interestingly, though, the researchers also asked, “What is the primary factor that has caused you to believe that temperatures on earth are increasing?” and “What is the primary factor that makes you believe that temperatures on earth are not increasing?” (all quoted from the questionnaire [PDF], questions 7, 9, 10, and 20).

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