Caterpillar Lab!

In a time where biodiversity is actively under threat, I’d like to take a moment to applaud organizations that highlight and promote organisms. And somehow I just stumbled across such a resource.

The Caterpillar Lab! Started by a kickstarter in 2013, it’s mission statement:

The Caterpillar Lab fosters greater appreciation and care for the complexity and beauty of our local natural history through live caterpillar educational programs, research initiatives, and photography and film projects. We believe that an increased awareness of one’s local environment is the foundation on which healthy and responsible attitudes towards the broader natural systems of this world is built.

Check them out here, or simply enjoy the video below (One of many that can be found on their website).

 

Teaching non-science as science

Nearly 70 bills encouraging the teaching of theories other than evolution – creationism or intelligent design, or some combination thereof – were pushed in multiple states over the last decade. Nearly all have failed, either in statehouses or courtrooms.

But a group of committed legislators who have pushed these measures have now hit upon a new formula: a group of bills that would simply allow teachers to teach whatever they would like. (Read more here)

 

A bill along these lines just pasted the South Dakota House (23-12):

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF SOUTH DAKOTA:
Section 1. That chapter 13-1 be amended by adding a NEW SECTION to read:
No teacher may be prohibited from helping students understand, analyze, critique, or review in an objective scientific manner the strengths and weaknesses of scientific information presented in courses being taught which are aligned with the content standards established pursuant to § 13-3-48.

As stated by a high school science instructional coach:

“This is horrible, but let’s say I believe in eugenics.” S.B. 55 “says that I couldn’t be prohibited, I couldn’t be stopped from teaching that, as long as I did it in an objective scientific manner, and it doesn’t specify what that means.” (more here).

So. That’s not great. Better put by Glenn Branch (deputy director of the National Center for Science Education):

“The prominence of science denial in the new administration may embolden creationists and climate change deniers to pressure their local teachers; even in the absence of such pressure, it may cause teachers to self-censor in order to avoid the possibility of conflict over these socially — but not scientifically — controversial topics.”

So get out there, get involved with your local school board and keep talking about/spreading good science! I don’t know how to end this on a happy note.

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If the children are the future, the future might be very ill-informed

A new study out of Stanford evaluated students ability to assess information sources and described the results with words ranging from “dismaying” to “bleak”

Middle school, high school and college students were asked to evaluate the information presented in tweets, comments and articles. They were consistently unable to effectively evaluate the credibility of that information.

In fact, most middle school students couldn’t even distinguish ads from articles.

As I’ve spoken about before, I refuse to believe that we live in a fact-free world, or post fact world, or any of that non-sense. But this kind of study is disheartening.

But I’m choosing to think that knowing this information should be a call to educators (like me) to redouble our efforts rather than give up! I’m also open to suggestions about how to combat this alarming trend.

Read about it here! 

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The Altered Arctic Food Chain

Food chains are complicated. That simple idea of a direct line from primary producer, to primary consumer, to top of the food chain is just that, overly simplified.

And given the complexity of these interactions (who eats who) it’s hard to predict what happens when the menu suddenly changes.

Which is what is happening right now in the Arctic, due to the effects of climate change.

Read about it over at the NYTimes!

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For Some, Scientist Aren’t the Authority on Science

A new study coming out in the journal Public Understandings of Science finds that many people believe that university and industry scientists are the authority to trust about sciency things (risks and benefits of technology and its applications).

However, among evangelicals, the pattern is very different. Rather they see religious organizations as the authority on science.

Which could play into the “fact free” society we are living in.

I don’t know how to change this conundrum. I don’t know how to make it clear that facts are facts. I’m open to suggestions.

Read about it here!

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When talking about phylogenies, don’t use words like “basal”

Over at the blog “For the love of treesStacey Smith has recently posted an interesting (and somewhat twitter controversial) post about how to correctly talk about evolution and phylogenies.

For starters, don’t use the word basal. She states that by her estimation the term “basal” is misused ~90% of the time, and it perpetuates a number of misconceptions about how evolution works.

Intrigued? Go check out the post. Or enjoy this phylogeny of basil posted by Maggie Schedl (which is the most basal basil?!?)

The Basil-Lineage problem: which is the #mostprimitivebasil

The Basil-Lineage problem: which is the #mostprimitivebasil

 

How Women Are Harassed Out of Science

I had someone tell me the other day that if women were less extreme as feminists then people might not write them off as quickly. If we were quieter then things might change.

I so completely disagree with this statement that I will continue writing about the problems facing women in science indefinitely.

So, there is another new article about how women in science face consistent, ingrained, societally approved sexism and harassment in the workplace. Enjoy!

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