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The Critic's Resource on AntiEvolution

NCSE Evolution and Climate Education Update for 2016/05/06

(by NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch)

Dear friends of NCSE,

The 2016 NCSE Grand Canyon Teacher Scholarship winners. Sad news of
the death of Harry Kroto. And new survey data on beliefs and attitudes
about climate change.


NCSE is pleased to announce the winners of the second teacher
scholarships on our annual Grand Canyon raft trip: Brandon Haught of
University High School, Orange City, Florida, and Crystal Davis of
Hawthorne Math and Science Academy, Hawthorne, California. They will
receive an all-expenses-paid eight-day raft trip through the Grand
Canyon, guided by two members of NCSE's staff and joining twenty other
NCSE members and supporters who purchased seats on the trip. The
scholarship funds were donated by the generosity of NCSE's members.

"This trip will be the adventure of a lifetime for Haught and Davis,"
explained NCSE's Steve Newton, a geologist and one of NCSE's guides on
the annual raft trip. "Teachers who work so hard for their students
and the science-literate future of America deserve some time to relax
on the Colorado River. But we'll be making them work, too. The Grand
Canyon is the greatest geology teaching lab in the world, and they'll
be able to explore geological processes up close, place their hands on
rock layers laid down before the first multi-cellular fossils, and see
how plate tectonics, erosion, volcanoes, wind, and waves built up and
carved down the landscape. I can't wait to see what lesson plans they
develop based on that experience." As part of the scholarship
application, both teachers committed to produce a lesson plan and
student assessment based on the trip, which NCSE will make available
for other teachers to use.

Brandon Haught is in his second year of teaching in Orange City.
Before entering the classroom, Haught was a combat correspondent in
the United States Marine Corps, a graphic designer and newspaper
columnist, and spokesperson for a Florida sheriff's department. He was
also a founding board member of Florida Citizens for Science, a
grassroots organization that defends the integrity of science
education in the Sunshine State. His activity with Florida Citizens
for Science led to his researching and writing a book on the history
of the creationism/evolution controversy there, Going Ape: Florida's
Battles over Evolution in the Classroom (2014), described by Michael
Ruse as "[a] fascinating and important account of the battles over
evolution in one of the nation's largest states." Haught now teaches
biology and environmental science; he was named the first-year teacher
of the year at his school in 2014-2015. In his application, he
explained, "Climate change and evolution are required subjects in my
curriculum, which motivates me to find any opportunity I can to get
off the school campus and out of the books and discover ways to get my
hands on something meaningful and real. Spending several days in the
Grand Canyon learning from professionals and sharing with peers
definitely fits the bill."

Crystal Davis teaches environmental science, biology, and anatomy and
physiology at the Hawthorne Math and Science Academy. She has taught
AP courses in the Los Angeles area for over ten years. The Title I
school where she teaches is in a city once labeled "whites-only," but
which now has only 10% non-Hispanic white population. Her students
live adjacent to a major international airport, and a few miles from
the beach, yet, she observes, “Few of my students travel domestically
or internationally. In fact, over 70% have never been to the beach,
even though it only takes fifteen minutes to get there from school.”
She works to bring her students to national parks, recognizing, “Due
to this lack of exposure to nature, I find the most significant
challenge to environmental science education is getting students to
care about the environment and to make changes in their own lives.”
The trip to the Grand Canyon will let her share the wider world with
her students, and help them share the lessons with other students. She
explains, "I plan to work with my students to develop mini-lessons
that they can present to middle school students in an after-school

NCSE's Josh Rosenau, a biologist who guides the raft trip along with
Steve Newton, says: "Great science education doesn't end at the
schoolhouse door, and challenges to science have to be confronted in
the community and the halls of power. Haught and Davis show how
important it is for teachers -- and anyone concerned with improving
science education -- to speak up for science in churches and
legislatures, addressing misconceptions and harmful ideologies before
they infiltrate classrooms. We're proud to honor their remarkable
work, and that of so many other teachers who share that commitment."

Dozens of teachers applied for the two seats, providing copies of
lesson plans, explaining how they incorporate evolution and climate
change in their classrooms, and how they have confronted efforts to
politicize or undermine science education. Haught and Davis stood out
not just for their excellence in the classroom, but also for their
efforts to make their communities safer for science and science

"We were gratified by the response to this scholarship, and can't wait
to offer more scholarships in future years," says NCSE executive
director Ann Reid. "There were so many teachers we wished we could
have brought with us, and we're grateful to NCSE's members and
supporters who donated to the scholarship fund (to which donations are
still welcome). When communities, scientists, and teachers come
together, great things happen."

For information about NCSE's excursions to the Grand Canyon, visit: 

For the donation page for the scholarship fund, visit: 


The distinguished chemist Harry Kroto died on April 30, 2016, at the
age of 76, according to Chemical & Engineering News (May 2, 2016).
Kroto shared the 1996 Nobel Prize in chemistry with Robert Curl and
Richard Smalley for their discovery of fullerenes, carbon molecules
assuming exotic shapes, such as the spherical buckminsterfullerene. As
Chemical & Engineering News observed, "The discovery was greeted with
both enthusiasm and skepticism, noted the Nobel Prize committee when
announcing the 1996 prize: 'No physicist or chemist had expected that
carbon would be found in such a symmetrical form other than those
already known.'" Kroto was also concerned with the public
understanding of science, helping to establish organizations to aid
science communicators and science educators.

Kroto was enthusiastic about evolution, writing, in a post on his
website, "Darwin's Theory of Evolution is supported by an avalanche of
synergistic cross-disciplinary evidence from almost every branch of
the sciences: Paleontology, geology, biology, genetics, chemistry,
physics etc." And he was correspondingly concerned about creationist
assaults on the teaching of evolution, telling a New Zealand newspaper
that people who insert creationism into the science curriculum "really
p... me off" (bowdlerism in original). His concern was not expressed
only to the media. In 2008, for example, he publicly decried
legislative efforts to undermine evolution education in his adopted
home of Florida, as the Sarasota Herald-Tribune (April 15, 2008)
reported. He also vocally supported efforts to repeal Louisiana's
so-called Science Education Act -- helping Zack Kopplin to recruit his
fellow Nobel laureates to endorse the repeal effort -- and to ban the
teaching of creationism in Scotland.

Kroto was born on October 7, 1939, in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire,
England. He studied at the University of Sheffield, where he earned
his B.Sc. in chemistry in 1961 and his Ph.D. in chemistry in 1964.
After stints as a researcher at the National Research Council in
Canada and Bell Telephone Laboratories, he taught at the University of
Sussex from 1977 to 2001. He ended his career at Florida State
University, where he was the Francis Eppes Professor of Chemistry and
Biochemistry from 2004 until his death. Beside the Nobel Prize, his
honors included the Michael Faraday Award and the Copley Medal from
the Royal Society of London as well as over forty honorary degrees. He
was a Fellow of the Royal Society of London and a foreign associate of
the National Academy of Sciences.

For the obituary in Chemical & Engineering News, visit: 

For Kroto's post on his website, visit: 

And for the story in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, visit: 


A new report from the Yale Program on Climate Communication offers new
data on Americans' beliefs and attitudes about climate change, with a
particular emphasis on the influence of political views.

Asked "Do you think that global warming is happening?" 73% of
respondents answered yes, 11% answered no, and 15% answered don't
know. According to the report, "Large majorities of Democrats --
liberal (95%) and moderate/conservative (80%)—think it is happening,
as do three in four Independents (74%, up 15 points since Spring 2014)
and the majority of liberal/moderate Republicans (71%, up 10 points).
By contrast, only 47% of conservative Republicans think global warming
is happening."

Presented with  "Assuming global warming is happening, do you think it
is ..." and asked to complete the sentence, 56% of respondents
preferred "Caused mostly by human activities," 34% preferred "Caused
mostly by natural changes in the environment," 4% volunteered "Caused
by both human activities and natural changes," and 5% preferred "None
of the above because global warming isn't happening." Opinion was
politically divided, with a majority of Democrats but a minority of
conservative Republicans accepting human responsibility.

Asked "[W]hat percentage of climate scientists think that human-caused
global warming is happening," 13% provided a number in the correct
range 90-100%, 63% provided a number in the correct range 50-100%, and
25% indicated that they didn't know enough to say. According to the
report, "Liberal Democrats (38%) are nearly 10 times more likely than
Republicans (4%) to understand that the scientific consensus is 90% or
higher, but nonetheless a majority of liberal Democrats do not yet
understand this either."

The data were "based on a nationally representative survey of 1,004
American adults, aged 18 and older, who are registered to vote. The
survey was conducted March 18-31, 2016. All questionnaires were
self-administered by respondents in a web-based environment."

For the report, visit: 

And for NCSE's collection of polls and surveys on climate, visit: 


Have you been visiting NCSE's blog, The Science League of America,
recently? If not, then you've missed:

* Guest bloggers Crystal Davis and Brandon Haught discussing what they
expect to learn in the Grand Canyon: 

* Guest bloggers Brandon Haught and Crystal Davis describing what
challenges in the classroom they have experienced: 

* Guest blogger Allison Camp discussing her experiences with NCSE's
Science in the Classroom program: 

And much more besides!

For The Science League of America, visit: 

Thanks for reading. And don't forget to visit NCSE's website -- -- where you can always find the latest news on 
evolution and climate education and threats to them.


Glenn Branch
Deputy Director
National Center for Science Education, Inc.
1904 Franklin Street, Suite 600
Oakland CA 94612-2922
fax 510-788-7971 

Check out NCSE's blog, Science League of America: 

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