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

This week in evolution and climate change, one educator shares how her efforts to inspire local science teachers will make a difference. Josh Rosenau discusses the history of racism in science and the future of bridging the racial divide, and Glenn Branch goes back into time to look at the musings of a 1920s creationist.

How One Educator is Inspiring Science Teachers Nationwide

Bertha Vazquez, a former middle school science teacher, understands the wide range of subject material that middle school science teachers must cover and that no one can be an expert on it all.

But what does make the difference, she says, is how the teacher makes use of his or her passion for a subject and inspire his or her students with that.

"[W]e teach best what we know and love best. Our knowledge of a subject leads to our own enthusiasm for it, and this makes a significant difference in our students’ learning process. Passion is contagious," she notes.

For Vazquez, her passion is studying and teaching evolution. So she decided to share her passion not only with her students — but with fellow educators as well.

"Thus, in 2013, I offered my fellow G. W. Carver Middle School science teachers a series of workshops on evolution. The highlight of the sessions was a guided discussion of the wonderful book Your Inner Fish by Dr. Neil Shubin, which uses the story of his remarkable discovery of the fossil 'fishapod' Tiktaalik to launch into an exploration of shared history and common descent," she said.

After this, she teamed up with evolutionary biologist Dr. Richard Dawkins to offer over several years professional development experiences for middle school teachers, inspiring countless peers along the way. This led to even more developments.

"This revelation was the cornerstone of the creation of the Teacher Institute for Evolutionary Science (TIES), a program of the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science (RDFRS). The mission of TIES is to familiarize middle school science teachers with their evolution standards through in-person workshops and online webinars."

TIES held its first workshop for middle school science teachers in April, and Vazquez hopes that more workshops with a similar focus will help local science teachers nationwide to inspire students and peers.

Read the full post here.

A Brief History of Racism in Science

Several weeks ago, Josh Rosenau talked about blood bank segregation and how science was used to disprove the racism behind segregating blood.

Rosenau's follow-up post is in response to The Discovery Institute's claims that "science deniers" in the 40s were the ones who opposed blood segregation as a result of its creationist beliefs.

"Science, JAMA, Scientific American, and the AAPA were all in agreement with the Army’s surgeon general that blood did not exhibit meaningful racial variation, and that blood transfusions across races were safe. If those were the science deniers of the day, it isn’t clear who the ‘tute thinks represented the real voice of science," Rosenau argued.

To further his point, Rosenau delved into the history of racism and its relationship to evolution believers versus creationists.

Racism, he found, was a constant among both — with neither to be blamed solely for its place in science, despite the Discovery Institute's claims.

"By the ’40s, the idea of blood segregation was widely rejected by doctors and scientists. That’s the truth, not a whitewash, and it should be celebrated.That doesn’t mean that those doctors and scientists were angels. The AMA permitted local chapters to be racially segregated until the 1960s."

"Look, we can move past wondering whether African Americans 'think' that science has been tainted by racism. As Coyne goes on to acknowledge, it totally has been. Will merely acknowledging and criticizing such racism bridge racial divides on evolution or the environment? Surely not on its own, but it’s hard to imagine progress without that first step."

Read his full post here.

The "Ape-Man Hoax"

Glenn Branch, after being asked to take a look at the worth of a fourth printing edition of the 1922 book God — ​or Gorilla, was prompted to re-look at the book's famous creationist, Alfred Watterson McCann.

McCann, an evolution skeptic, referred to the belief as the "ape-man hoax," and compared it to the infamous Moon Hoax of 1835 where the New York Sun published false accounts of intelligent life being found on the moon.

Read his full post here