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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We asked applicants for the NCSE Grand Canyon Teacher Scholarship to explain, in 500 words, how they’ve addressed challenges to the teaching of evolution, climate change, and related issues. Here is part of scholarship winner Scott Hatfield’s explanation of his strategies for overcoming resistance to evolution in his Fresno, California, high school.

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“Oh, Be A Fine Girl, Kiss Me”

—Traditional mnemonic for stellar classification

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When there’s something strange in your neighborhood school, who you gonna call? If there’s something weird in your kid’s homework and it don’t look good, who you gonna call? If you’re seeing creationist bills running through your legislature, who you gonna call?

Hopefully, my modest changes to those classic lyrics have you shouting “NCSE!” rather than “Ghostbusters!”

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