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NCSE Roundup: This Week in Climate Change & Evolution

NCSE Round-Up: This Week in Climate Change & Evolution

This week in climate change and evolution, the NCSE brings two hard-working science teachers on a Grand Canyon trip to help them in the classroom, a writer discusses the distinctions of evolution theory, and a science ed expert reveals the frustration behind what has the potential to hold key answers behind the evolution of snakes.

NCSE Offers 'Grand Canyon Scholarships'

In a move to offer more support to the nations' science teachers, the NCSE is taking selected science teachers to bring on annual Grand Canyon trips.

Said team member Steve Newton, the NCSE is switching its focus to bring more support to science teachers as opposed to specifically focusing on "fighting fires" by pushing back against anti-climate change and evolution occurrences.

"Our Grand Canyon teacher scholarships reflects this new focus. We hope to bring as many teachers as possible on this amazing experience, surrounded by the awe-inspiring beauty of one the world’s last remaining wild places, in the company of friends with a passion for science," he said.

Josh Rosenau accompanied Newton on the trip and elaborates on what the experience was like for him and the two teachers that won the scholarships.

"In the eight days of NCSE’s recent Grand Canyon trip, we hit everything you need in Geology 101. We passed sedimentary, metamorphic, and igneous rocks. We saw how faulting distorted the rocks and opened up wide valleys, so different from the narrow river corridor. We were even lucky enough to witness some of the processes that carved the Grand Canyon," Rosenau said.

Read Rosenau's post here

Read Newton's post here

Evolution as a Fact, a Theory, and a Path

Glenn Branch discusses considering the distinctions between evolution as a fact, as a theory, and as a path. In his post, he references the words of Winterton Curtis, a professor of zoology at the University of Missouri who testified in defense of evolution during the fateful Snopes trial:

Compared with the doctrine of evolution, we have: (1) the fact of evolution, as representing the historical series of events; (2) the course followed in evolution, for instance, whether the land vertebrates arose from the fishlike ancestors, birds from reptiles, or the like; and (3) the cause of evolution or what made and makes it happen. These three aspects, like those in the voyage of a ship, are separate though related items. They must be constantly distinguished if there is to be any clear thinking on this matter by one who is not a scientist

Branch discusses the importance in distinguishing evolution between the three classifications when fully understanding the science behind it, and next week will be looking at the future of doing so.

Read his full post here.

Does Tetrapodophis Amplectus Indicate How Snakes Evolved?

Stephanie Keep discusses the major breakthrough in paleontology this week through the discover of Tetrapodophis amplectus, a potentially four-limbed snake according to some scientists.

"This is significant because '[t]he origin of snakes has been a point of contention with two major camps—the evolved-in-the-water camp and the evolved-on-land camp. There is some indirect evidence in support of both hypotheses, but there hasn’t been—until now, possibly—a smoking gun fossil found that settles the debate. Tetrapodophis amplectus, with its agile hands and feet, certainly points to a terrestrial origin of snakes—that is, it would if it were a snake.," she said.

There is debate on whether or not the fossil is actually a snake since the head is poorly preserved and the fossil itself is from an unknown location as it was simply found in a museum with the label "unknown fossil."

"The point is, the where and when of fossils are important, and until these blanks can be filled in, T. amplectus will be more a frustration than a game-changer," Keep said.

Read her full post here.

 

Compiled by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor

07/31/2015

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