12.29.2015

Cover of Powell, Four Revolutions in the Earth Sciences

Steven Dutch continues his review of James L. Powell’s Four Revolutions in the Earth Sciences (2015), which began with part 1.

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Each year, in May, I have the distinct pleasure of serving as a volunteer judge for the Massachusetts State Science & Engineering Fair (MSSEF). The event, which takes place at MIT, is one of my favorite days of the year. I spend most of my days alone in my home office immersed in some of the less appealing aspects of science education—the politics, the standards, and of course, the denialism that worms its way into far too many classrooms. MSSEF is like a booster shot of morale—an inoculation against despair and frustration.

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Scott Hatfield was one of NCSE’s Grand Canyon Teacher Scholarship winners. He teaches biology at Bullard High School, in Fresno, California. Teachers can apply for a scholarship on next year's trip, and you can donate to the scholarship fund or sign up for the trip now.

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Nobel Prize medal. (Via Wikimedia Commons, public domain in the US)On Monday, Tu Youyou, Satoshi Omura, and William Campbell were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine, for their discoveries of the antimalarial artemisinin, and avermectin, a key part of treatment for the parasitic diseases river blindness and lymphatic filariasis.

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When I was in middle school, I was way into model rocketry. My best friend and I would build these elaborate rocket kits, then (having researched the pertinent ordinances) launch them from approved areas of public parks. We even started up a 4-H club on model rocketry, though it never really took off (as it were).

One day, we were walking through our New Jersey suburb on our way to a park to do a launch, rockets and wires and so forth poking out of our backpacks. A police car rolled up next to us, and the officer asked what we were up to. I don’t recall whether we flashed our hand-made rocket club membership cards, but we explained what we planned to do, and what we had researched about how to do a safe and legal launch. He let us go with a wave.

Had we done the same today, the result would likely be different.

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