Tag Archives: education

November 2008

Monday, November 17, 2008

“A Virtual Tour of the Creation Museum: Cheaper Than the Real Thing and Far More Educational”

Speaker: Jason Wiles, Ph.D.

Business meeting at 6:30
Program at 7:00

Jason Wiles riding a dinosaur

Jason Wiles riding a dinosaur at the Creation Museum

Our November meeting will be at a familiar location, the Betts Branch Library in the Valley, but on a different day than usual, Monday.

Betts Branch Library
Meeting Room
4862 S. Salina St.
Syracuse, NY 13205

View Google Map and Get Directions to Betts

The Program

This presentation casts a skeptical eye toward the “science” taught at the Creation Museum, a 27-million-dollar (and counting) attraction located on the Kentucky side of the Cincinnati, OH, metropolitan area. You will see dinosaurs living peacefully alongside humans and hear how “Creation Scientists” explain that the Earth is only about 6,000 years old. Of course, science tells us that the Earth is around 4-and-a-half billion years old and that dinosaurs were extinct long before humans evolved, but then, little, if any, of what the Creation Museum teaches is supported by science.

About the speaker

Jason R. Wiles grew up in Arkansas, a southern state in the heart of the Bible Belt with a storied history of controversy around the teaching of evolution in public schools. Dr. Wiles grew up in a creationist family and earned his first degree in biology at a private religious university where evolution was largely absent from the curriculum. He went on to earn master’s degrees in both biology and geosciences, both heavy on evolutionary evidence and theory. After having taught biology and other sciences at a number of colleges, universities, and institutions of secondary education for several years, he recognized that a great many students had similar misconceptions and related difficulties in learning about biology that were rooted in misunderstanding of evolution, whether or not these barriers were based on religious beliefs.

Given his own personal experience, and given the centrality of evolution to a deep understanding of the life and Earth sciences, Wiles was motivated to learn more about the teaching and learning of evolution. He eventually earned a Ph.D. at McGill University focusing on evolution education, and for the past four years has served as Research Manager of the Evolution Education Research Centre, a partnership between McGill and Harvard University. He joined the faculty in the Biology Department at Syracuse University in 2008 and enjoys a secondary appointment in the SU Department of Science Teaching.

Related articles of interest by Jason Wiles

The missing link: Scientist discovers that evolution is missing from Arkansas classrooms
The Huckster’s Artful Dodging on Evolution
A threat to geoscience education: creationist anti-evolution activity in Canada

Paul DesOrmeaux, skeptical satirist

Neighboring skeptic, founder of the Rochesterville Skeptics Club (Rochester, NY), and skeptical satirist Paul DesOrmeaux has a humorous article in the November/December Skeptical Inquirer titled “More Cool Careers for Dummies: Ghost Hunter,” which is a follow up to an earlier March/April SI Forum article titled “Cool Careers for Dummies: Psychic Detective.” Along with articles in the Skeptical Briefs and Openly Skeptical (Skeptics Canada) newsletters, Paul is a regular contributor to BASIS (The Bay Area Skeptics’ newsletter).

As the movement’s best-known humorist, he has lampooned a variety of pseudoscience topics, such as cosmetic acupuncture, “The Secret,” Scientology, horoscopes, chiropractic (his most controversial piece), and many others. His goal is to introduce skepticism to a broader audience by combining reason and science with humor and satire. So, if you know anyone considering a career in chasing disembodied spirits for fun and profit, have them check out the newest SI issue.

No Skeptics in the Pub in November

We don’t have a Skeptics in the Pub event planned for November. However, if someone wants to volunteer to organize it, let us know, and we’ll put the information here.

CNY Skeptics booth at Westcott Street Fair

Lisa Goodlin and David Harding at the CNY Skeptics booth at the 2008 Westcott Street Fair

Teaching Evolution to Middle Level Students

The middle school science classroom is often students’ first contact with a scientific presentation on evolution. This is an expanded version of the author’s article “Evolution and Middle-Level Education: Observations and Recommendations” that was published in the Jan/Feb 2005 issue of NCSE Reports. Note that this article is based primarily on the author’s experience rather than academic research. A list of selected resources follows.

Teaching Evolution to Middle Level Students

By Vince Sperrazza

August 2008

The 12 year old hand goes up at the first mention of the word evolution, “Is it true we came from monkeys?” It’s the first day of school, and I mention evolution in a list of topics for the year ahead in my 7th grade life science classes.

That’s the nature of middle school students. Impulsive, inquisitive, focused on their peers, yet they can still be excited about learning. As their brains try to catch up with their fast growing bodies, they are “hormones with feet,” as one adolescent psychologist characterized them many years ago. Continue reading Teaching Evolution to Middle Level Students

Evidence

By Bryce Hand

This letter was featured in the Kansas City Star newspaper on November 9, 2005.

To the Editor:

Tuesday was a sad day for Kansas.

Yes, there is controversy surrounding evolution, but only among nonscientists. Those who reject evolution present no arguments scientists haven’t heard (and adequately countered) again and again, and have no special knowledge that scientists have overlooked. Continue reading Evidence

Eugenie Scott Interview

I’m a believer in education. I think we need to do a much better job helping science teachers understand the nature of science, understand how to think critically, and help them devise ways of passing this on to the student body more effectively than they are today (at obviously an age-appropriate level). Continue reading Eugenie Scott Interview