As you might have heard, the primary goal of NCSE’s Science Booster Club program is to bring evolution and climate change education to public spaces. But that’s not all! Booster Clubs raise funds and use the proceeds to fund teacher grants. This fall we were able to accept grant requests from any teacher in a state where we have a booster club, making for an especially competitive funding cycle.
Many years ago, I said to a colleague, “What a beautiful shirt! Royal blue is a good color on you.” She replied, “What do you mean blue? This shirt is purple!” After some experimenting, we discovered that we consistently differed on the line between blue and purple. In extending our experiments to co-workers, we found that I was the outlier—most people saw blue and purple more like my colleague. It turns out that such differences are real; the proteins that detect light in our eyes can be tuned to slightly different wavelengths, and we can each have slightly different ratios of the three proteins that allow us to distinguish colors. I really do see blue where most people see purple. (Do you? Here’s a Buzzfeed quiz.)
In 2017, NCSE’s Science Booster Club program expanded nationally, providing free, engaging educational opportunities to more than 120,000 people in ten states: Iowa, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Virginia, Ohio, West Virginia, Indiana, Maryland, Tennessee, and Texas. Our teacher micro-grant program also went national, with grant opportunities expanding beyond Iowa to all the states where booster clubs are active. Booster club members locally raised and awarded ten micro-grants to teachers in six states. These local fundraising efforts allowed teachers to purchase basic equipment such as scales and thermometers, which their districts could not afford to purchase, to enhance their science education experiences. In all, 3,400 students had enriched science learning experiences because of the impact of the micro-grants.
Those of us who coordinate the science booster clubs are inspired by the number of individuals, supporting organizations and institutions, as well as local businesses that came forward this past year to directly support the science booster clubs in their communities. We’d like to thank everyone who supported our grassroots community events, many of which were in Iowa. My sincere hope is that our work in Iowa will provide a national model for growth and change. As we have seen through the success of our national expansion, that process has already begun.
A beloved holiday tradition returns.
In part 1, I observed that there are two obstacles that might seem to face teachers wanting to use recent extreme weather, like Hurricane Harvey, in teaching about climate change: the complexities and uncertainties involved in attributing specific weather events to global climate change on the one hand, and the tendency of the opponents of teaching climate change to portray those complexities and uncertainties as admissions of ignorance and error.
from the Texas Water Development Board
Extreme weather events are occurring across the country and around the world. Just to name a few recent events in the U.S., 2017 has seen a record swing from drought conditions to the wettest winter in California history; the earliest tornadoes in Massachusetts and Minnesota history; hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria in rapid succession; and record wildfires, again in California. Surely something is screwy, right?
The other week I got to see something really amazing: a community where teachers have all the support they need to teach climate change and evolution.
At 9:30 p.m. on a recent work day, I called a reporter who had just e-mailed me, asking for comment on the latest developments with the New Mexico science standards. “Don’t you ever sleep?” he joked. I chuckled. Ten hours later, at 7:30 a.m. the next day, a different reporter called me, asking for comment on the same developments, and I happily, if a bit blearily, discussed the situation with him. I say this not to brag of my work ethic—my secret, I confess, is coffee—but to illustrate a benefit of your support of NCSE.
NCSEteach is a unique resource for science teachers. The monthly NCSEteach newsletter goes out to over 6,000 teachers nationwide and the Scientist in the Classroom program fosters collaborations between professional scientists and educators. This year, three teachers were awarded a rafting trip down the Grand Canyon in 2017, and shared their experience through the NCSE blog (Marie Story, Nate Chisholm, and Robyn Witty).
We are proud of our teachers, and the work they are doing!
2017 has been a great year for the Science Booster Club Program. Thanks to the support of our donors, the efforts of our volunteers, and the enthusiasm of our staff, we’ve succeeded in our national expansion. From serving over 50,000 people in Iowa in 2016, we’re scheduled to serve over 120,000 people across ten states in 2017. As you can see in the map below, we are working in a broad, largely connected area stretching from Nebraska to the Eastern seaboard.