Happy New Year from NCSEteach, NCSE’s teacher outreach program! We are excited to be back in action for another year packed with climate change and evolution education.

Thirty-six scientist-teacher pairs across the country participated last semester in NCSEteach’s Scientist in the Classroom program, reaching several hundred students in all. As you know, after a first introductory visit, the scientist returns for a visit to work with the teacher to implement a hands-on activity.

There was a great diversity in the activities last semester! For example:

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The example of the watch in William Paley’s Natural Theology (1802) is famous. A stone found on a heath, Paley explains, seems not to require any explanation, but a watch, with its component parts apparently designed to perform a function, demands to be explained, and explained, moreover, in terms of a designer. And the same is true, he argues at length, of living things. Although Paley is sometimes credited with the example of the watch, it is, I think, generally recognized that he was only the latest in a long string of writers to use horology in the service of natural theology: Cicero, in the first century BCE, similarly appealed to sundials and water-clocks in De natura deorum. So Paley wasn’t original. But was he a plagiarist?

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Title of Allem's thesisIn “Evolution in the Back Seat,” I mentioned Warren Allem’s 1959 University of Tennessee, Knoxville master’s thesis, “Backgrounds of the Scopes Trial at Dayton, Tennessee.” Allem’s thesis is well worth a read, I think, if you’re interested in the Scopes trial, especially because it’s freely available on-line. The main attraction is the interviews he conducted with various residents of Dayton who witnessed the events surrounding the trial. These interviews are frequently cited in the scholarly and popular literature—Edward J. Larson in “The Scopes Trial in History and Legend” (in David C. Lindberg and Ronald L. Numbers’s edited volume When Science and Christianity Meet, 2008), Michael Lienesch in In the Beginning (2007), and Randy Moore in Evolution in the Courtroom (2002), for example, all cite Allem’s thesis.

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2016 was a pretty intense year for NCSE’s Science Booster Club program. We explored lots of new ways to engage with people, and managed to reach over 54,000 people in Iowa in person with our hands-on evolution and climate change activities.

In December 2016, we’ve been engaged in a big push for expansion, thanks to the funds and connections supporters contributed in a huge outpouring of generosity following the election in early November. As we promised our donors at the time, we are now moving westwards in a big way.

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