11.09.2016

Dear NCSE members and friends of science,

I’m writing in a profound state of shock, as I’m sure you’ll understand. You are no doubt in the same state. For the National Center for Science Education, of course, the election of someone who thinks climate change is a hoax and whose running mate once denounced evolution from the floor of the House of Representatives, is frightening and deeply depressing. It is more than possible that the sweeping Republican triumph at the national level may embolden local efforts to undermine the teaching of evolution and climate change. These are worrying signs for science education.

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This fall, I had a problem. Our Iowa City club was invited back to a large Halloween event, The University of Iowa’s Creepy Campus Crawl. But, we were under probation—in trouble for being too much fun the last time around. Our activities in 2015 generated “excessive audience interest,” leading to “extensive bottlenecks” before and around our exhibits, which caused a variety of difficulties for the crowd and the venue.

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By this point in the school year, I hope that you have heard of NCSE’s Scientist in the Classroom program. But if not, please check it out!

In designing the program, we wanted to be sure that scientists and teachers were able to work together to come up with a hands-on activity that fit in with what was going on in the classroom as opposed to a prescribed activity. A really neat result of this design is that all of the pairs have a unique experience with the program.

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10.19.2016

Thomas H. Dixon Jr., via Wikimedia Commons

As I was researching and writing “Dixon, Not Darwin,” about a viciously racist passage sometimes misattributed to Darwin but actually taken from Thomas F. Dixon Jr.’s novel The Clansman: An Historical Romance of the Ku Klux Klan (1905), I was intermittently chatting with my colleague Josh Rosenau about it. Perhaps he lost the thread, because after I mentioned something about Dixon—using only his surname—Rosenau asked, “Are you talking about A. C. Dixon, the coeditor of The Fundamentals?” “No,” I replied, “I’m talking about Thomas F. Dixon Jr., the author of The Clansman.” A moment later, I added, “Golly, I wonder if they’re kin.” A quick visit to Wikipedia later, I added, “Gosh, they were brothers.” (I apologize for the strong language, but I am a man of strong passions when it comes to historical trivia.) So what’s the story?

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The school year is officially underway! And the members of NCSE’s teacher network, NCSEteach, have just received their October newsletter, packed with resources, and event announcements related to teaching evolution and climate change. Why these topics? National teacher surveys show that many science teachers are reluctant to teach evolution and climate change because these topics are perceived as socially divisive. We want to make sure that teachers get the support they need to teach these topics with confidence.

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