Oklahomans for Excellence in Science Education, Inc. is a non-profit educational organization that promotes the education of the public about the methods and values of science and advocates excellence in the science curriculum. Activities include participation in educational and scientific organization conferences, workshops for science teachers, operation of a speakers' bureau, maintenance of an informational list serve, and related activities.
The formation of OESE was prompted by the attempts in the Oklahoma State Textbook Committee in 1999 to diminish the teaching of evolution by the introduction of creationist textbook disclaimers to be inserted into any textbook used in public schools that discussed evolution. There have been bills introduced almost every year since 1999 for legislation that would allow teaching creationism in science courses; OESE has opposed all such attempts.
OESE is seeking members. Memberships are available for $10. Please print and fill out the OESE membership application and mail to the address indicated on the form. Tax-deductable donations are also welcomed. Further info in the OESE brochure.
Recognizing the increased attention climate change education has received in recent years, OESE has added an emphasis on the support of the teaching of climate science in public schools. To that end, we have added links to climate change and climate change denial sites. Many of the recent bills that have attacked the teaching of evolution in the public schools have also included attacks on climate science. We have also added a section on climate and earth science on our teaching resources page.
OESE Board of Governors Meeting
The 2013 meeting is scheduled for 2:00 to 4:00 PM Sunday, November 17, in the conference room of the Oklahoma Biological Survey, 111 E. Chesapeake St., Norman.
Congratulations to OESE board members
Two OESE board members were honored at the Oklahoma Science Teachers Association (OSTA) Awards Recognition reception on Friday, November 1st at the OERB offices near downtown Oklahoma City. Dr. Julie Angle was named OSTA's Outstanding College/University Science Teacher and Deborah Hill was received her award as Oklahoma Science Teacher of the Year from the National Association of Biology Teachers.
In addition, Bethany Lorenz was elected President-elect of the Oklahoma Science Teachers Association and Deborah Hill was elected High School Director for OSTA.
Workshop for Teachers: Science of Climate Change and Variability
Weekend workshop (Sept. 20-22, 2013) at the University of Oklahoma Biological Station on Lake Texoma
Topics include current climate science, inquiry-based learning, state curriculum and classroom issues
Workshop organized and sponsored by: Oklahomans for Excellence in Science Education, Oklahoma Climatological Survey, National Science Foundation, and The University of Oklahoma Biological Station
Dr. Stan Rice, president-elect of OESE, live-blogged from the workshop:
Thank you, DELTA Foundation
We are pleased to announce that the DELTA Foundation has again granted OESE $ 16,339 for two years (2014, 2015) of teacher workshops on climate change and variability to be offered over a weekend at the University of Oklahoma Biological Station. Earlier support from this family foundation was very important in allowing OESE to offer workshops for science teachers and helped make them highly successful. The Board of Governors of OESE expresses our gratitude for this important support that will help advance science education of high school teachers.
The workshop this fall on Climate Change and Variability at the Biological Station attracted many applicants. To accommodate the demand the original limit of 30 was increased to about 38. The workshop this year is supported by an NSF grant to Dr. Cecil Lewis, an OU anthropologist. This is the last year of the NSF grant support. Thus the DELTA grant allows a continuation of the workshops.
EVOLUTION IN OKLAHOMA AND TEXAS: A ROAD TRIP.
Thursday May 30 thru Sunday June 2, 2013
By all accounts, the road trip was a big success. Dr. Rice reported on the road trip at his blog:
Part One, The World of the Past
Part Two, The World of the Past, continued
Part Three, Dinosaurs and the Humans Who Are Still Looking for Them
Part Four, Dinosaur Tracks
Part Five, Final Discussions
Anti-science bills in 2013 Oklahoma Legislature all died
Oklahoma bills promoting anti-evolution, anti-science courses in public schools, either died in committee or were not heard on the House floor before adjournment of the Legislature. The Legislature adjourned Sine Die on 24 May, a week earlier than the deadline.
HB 1674 (Rep, Blackwell, 'Science Education and Academic Freedom Act') and SB 758 (Sen., Brecheen, 'Oklahoma Science Education Act') are dead for this year. Like previous attempts these bills are not authored by scientists and there is no evidence that qualified scientists had any input into the texts of the bills; they are based on templates provided by the creationist Discovery Institute and similar to bills attempted in other states.
In addition two other bills that could be bad for science education were similarly defeated. HB 1940 and HB 1456, both essentially identical 'Religious Viewpoints Antidiscrimination Acts', keep coming up each year, despite being killed each year and once being vetoed by Governor Brad Henry. It is now law in Texas, where it has apparently not been placed into operation by any school district, despite contrary comments by one of the bills' author before the House Education Committee.
The demise of these bills this year can be attributed to the large number of messages sent to the appropriate committees by national and state organizations and the individuals who responded to requests to help. To all who did, THANK YOU – your efforts paid off as usual! None of these types of bill have passed during the past 13 years! However, we will likely have to continue opposition next year. The authors of these bills, and their supportive legislators, continue to be anti-science and, in many ways, anti-education.
This year's OESE's efforts were praised by the NCSE and Okie Funk.
The MIT Survey on Science, Religion and Origins: the Belief Gap
We present a detailed survey of how different US faith communities view origins science, particularly evolution and Big Bang cosmology. We find a striking gap between people's personal beliefs and the official views of the faiths to which they belong. Whereas Gallup reports that 46% of Americans believe that God created humans in their present form less than 10,000 years ago, we find that only 11% belong to religions openly rejecting evolution. This shows that the main divide in the origins debate is not between science and religion, but between a small fundamentalist minority and mainstream religious communities who embrace science. The fact that the gap between personal and official beliefs is so large suggests that part of the controversy might be defused by people learning more about their own religious doctrine and the science it endorses, thereby bridging this belief gap.
OU Religious Studies Journal article
Nolan Kraszkiewicz, an OU senior, has published a paper that examines the history and implications of the Creationism/Intelligent Design vs. Evolution debate raging in America's schools, courts, and churches. Link to the paper is here.
Video of Judge Jones talk in Norman
The video of the talk at the OU Law School on December 6 in Norman by Judge John E. Jones III, on "The U.S. Constitution's Intelligent Design" is available from the Maiinstream Baptist.
Darwin interviews Dr. Victor Hutchison
Board member Dr. Stanley Rice has added an interview with Dr. Victor Hutchison to his YouTube channel, http://youtu.be/IW2MRpkyVEM discussing evolution in Oklahoma. Dr. Rice's channel can be accessed at http://www.youtube.com/stanEvolve.
Bethany Lorenz named Outstanding Biology Teacher for Oklahoma
OESE congratulates Board member Bethany Lorenz, the 2012 recipient of the Outstanding Biology Teacher Award for Oklahoma from the National Association of Biology Teachers. The award is given each year to a life science teacher in each state who demonstrates exemplary practice in the teaching of life science. Lorenz has been a biology teacher at Putnam North High School since 2001. She teaches sereral inclusion classes in which special education students are mainstreamed, and uses judicious groups of students to implement peer tutoring and leadership. Lorenz said "I believe that all students can learn. They may learn at different rates, but they all have the capacity to learn." Congratulations Bethany! More information at the Oklahoma Science Teachers Assocation web site.
Darwin videos on YouTube
Dr. Stan Rice, faculty member at Southeastern Oklahoma State and a Board member of OESE is producing a series of YouTube videos where he portrays Darwin on various topics.
ANOTHER SUCCESSFUL OESE TEACHERS WORKSHOP
OESE held its first workshop for high school teachers on teaching climate change at the University Biological Station on Lake Texoma, 20-22 September, 2013. A good time was had by all.
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Clergy Letter Project: All clergy members are encouraged to go to this link to sign the nationwide outpouring of support for teaching evolution. For too long, the misperception that science and religion are inevitably in conflict has created unnecessary division and conflict concerning the teaching of evolution. The project is also described at the link.
OESE Joins Coalition on the Public Understanding of Science.
Oklahomans for Excellence in Science Education (OESE) has joined the Coalition on the Public Understanding of Science (COPUS), organized coordinate efforts to improve public outreach and science education. COPUS is a grassroots effort that builds connections that support a better understanding of the nature of science and its value to society. COPUS is built around three values: community, celebration, and promotion.
We are passionate people promoting good science. By working together as a community, we can build on the cumulative energies, strengths, and perspectives of our members.
Celebrations provide opportunities to reflect on the positive contributions of science to society - besides, science is fun and well worth celebrating!
Science needs good promotion. COPUS facilitates dialogue and shares resources through meaningful person-to-person interactions, making it easier to learn about how science works and why it matters to society.