School Closings in Our Cities: A Deep Ecological Problem

In this post I am going to argue that it is a mistake for large school districts such as Chicago, New York, and Atlanta to close schools on the basis of achievement and cost effectiveness.  The Chicago School District announced that they plan to close 61 schools which is 13% of the total schools in the district.  This will be the largest mass school closings in U.S. history.  If you map these schools and their communities, the Chicago school board acts as if these schools are unimportant, and indeed the children and youth that attend these schools, because they are poor, and failing state mandated tests, can be moved about at their whim.  … Read more

Part II: Will the Debate over Evolution End Soon?

We introduced this topic yesterday and referred to an Associated Press story, in which Richard Leakey suggests that the debate over evolution will end sometime over the next 15 to 30 years.  Leakey’s thesis was:

If you get to the stage where you can persuade people on the evidence, that it’s solid, that we are all African, that color is superficial, that stages of development of culture are all interactive,” Leakey says, “then I think we have a chance of a world that will respond better to global challenges.

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Part I. Will the Debate over Evolution End Soon?


Richard Leakey says that looking at the past the way paleontologists and anthropologist do can teach us much about the future.  He points out that extinction is one of the most common types of phenomena observed in nature, and that extinctions are related to environmental change.  He suggests that environmental change is controlled by climate change, and now, humans are at the center of accelerating, indeed creating the kind of changes in climate that we see on Earth today.… Read more

Sir Isaac Newton’s Notebooks and Papers

Trinity College Notebook by Isaac Newton

At Cambridge University you can access original copies of Sir Isaac Newton’s works including his college notebook (1664 – 1665), Early Papers, Notebook on Hydrostatics, Optics, Sound and Heat (1672 – 1706), his own copy of Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica (1687).

Although not all of Newton’s papers are housed at Cambridge University, the collection there is important.  Newton was a student at Cambridge from 1661 – 1665, and held the Lucasian Chair of Mathematics from 1669 – 1701.… Read more

10 Hall of Fame Teachers

Lori Kobelan emailed me linking me to Education Hall of Fame: 10 Teachers who made history.

Throughout our experience as a student, we all had at least one “hall of fame” teacher, a teacher that inspired us, believed in us, and showed us the way out of the woods.

Here is the list and a link to the post where you can read about each teacher on this hall of fame.  From there you can link to a website for each hall of fame teacher.… Read more

Science Teaching: A Dilemma in Any Language

Depending upon the language you use the phrase “science teaching,” it conjures up different meanings and attitudes in the minds of our youth. In some cultures, science classes do not rate very high among students, although at the same time, they will assure you that science is important in the lives of its citizens. In some cultures, very few students want to pursue careers in science, whereas in other cultures, students see science as important to the well-being of their citizens, and because of this they want to pursue studies and careers in science.… Read more

Why do we teach science?: The Cultural Argument

In four of the last five posts, I’ve explored the question, Why do we teach science? from four points of view. Using a template by R. Stephen Turner, I’ve presented the arguments for teaching science from economic, democratic, and skills points of view. In this post, I want to use the cultural argument as the answer to why do we teach science anyway.

Turner introduced the cultural argument this way:

Science is, beyond dispute, one of the great intellectual enterprises of
modern, especially western, civilization.  
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Why are more students relying on tutors in mathematics and science?

Last week I was asked to contribute to the Room for Debate discussion site on The Opinion Pages of the New York Times.  On a nearly daily basis, Room for Debate posses a questions, and solicits contributions from four or five individuals.  The Room for Debate topics that I contributed to was entitled “Why are more students relying on tutors in science and mathematics?

Terry Tang, one of the editors for Room for Debate discussions introduced the tutoring in math and science issue as follows:

A generation ago, after-school tutoring was fairly rare.

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Top Blogs in Science Teaching

The Art of Teaching Science has been identified as one of 15 top science teaching blogs by Maria Magher’s blog.  We are very thrilled to be one of the weblogs on Maria’s list.  There you will find a collection of science teaching blogs that you might find relevant to your work.  I’ve visited all of the sites, and I think you will discover a host of interesting ideas.

One of the sites that I visited is entitled Mr.Read more

Nuclear Arms Treaty, Health Care, & Education’s Race to the Top

I’ve returned to writing posts on the Art of Teaching Science weblog after 3 1/2 week hiatus.  I spent most of the time in Texas participating the Round Top Antiques Festival, witnessing the blooming of the Texas Bluebonnets, and reading about the curriculum changes that will probably be enacted by the Texas State Board of Education.

There is are several important issues that I want to explore in the next few posts.  Today, the USA and Russia signed the New START Treaty that among other things, will reduce the number of nuclear weapons held by each country.   … Read more