Archives for category: Science

The mainstream media loves to write negative stories about public schools. Here is a story featured in local news but mostly ignored by the national media.

The Society for Science and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals selected 40 high school seniors as finalists in their national science competition. Eighteen hundred students applied. Each of the finalists wins a prize of $25,000. The top ten winners will receive between $40,000 and $250,000.

The finalists will take part in a week-long competition from March 9-16, where they will undergo a rigorous judging process and compete for more than $1.8 million in awards. They will also interact with leading scientists and share their research during a virtual “Public Day” event on March 13.

Of the 40, nine went to elite private schools; three to charter schools; one was home-schooled. Twenty-seven are students in regular public schools. Seven are students at regular public high schools on Long Island in New York.

What is so impressive about the finalists is their topics, which display a remarkable range and depth of interests.

Here are a few project titles:

Project Title: Isolating and Characterizing Phosphorus-Solubilizing Bacteria from Rhizospheres of Native Plants Grown in Calcareous Soils and Sediments

Project Title: Evaluating Phragmites australis Wrack Accumulation in a Long Island Salt Marsh Ecosystem and Assessing Its Effect on Carbon Sequestration, the Nitrogen Cycle, and Sediment Biota

Project Title: Altered Development of Thymus in Tmem131Knockout Mouse Model of Down Syndrome

Project Title: Larvicidal “Trojan-Horse”: Experimentally Developing a Novel Low-Cost and Eco-Friendly Mosquito Vector Control Treatment

Project Title: Novel Fully MRI Compatible Nonmagnetic and Dielectric Pneumatic Servo Motor for MRI Guided Surgical Robotics

These are amazing students. Next time you hear a pundit ridiculing our schools and our teachers, think of these brilliant kids and their dedicated teachers. I feel better about our future after reading about them.

Jack Hassard, retired teacher of science teachers, pays close attention to facts and science.

Here he presents the facts about who is getting infected with COVID.

He writes:

Here are two charts from the CDC that we can use to answer that question. Unvaccinated people are 5 – 10 times more likely to get infected than vaccinated people. They are also 14 – 20 times more likely to die from COVID.

Open the post to see the charts.

I sometimes get comments from people who claim that they are waiting for evidence that the vaccines work. The other day I read a news story about a married couple who died of COVID on the same day. They were unvaccinated. The husband said before he died that he was ”doing research” about the vaccines.

The two charts in this post should end the hesitancy of anti-vaxxers. But it won’t..

Sometimes I think our nation has time-traveled back to the 1950s, when demented people made demented demands of the public schools and accused them of “indoctrinating” children with “socialist” or “Communist” or other labels. The crazies are back, as Billy Townsend reports from his town of Lakeland, Florida. These crazies want to protect their children from seeing certain dangerous words, specifically, “anus” and “bladder.”

Billy begins his post:

You would think that Polk County’s so-called County Citizens Defending Freedom (CCDF) would welcome inclusion of anuses in school curriculum. 

After all, Steve Maxwell and Jimmy Nelson and Hannah Peterson and the other “leaders” of CCDF have been very supportive of anuses in the last year — particularly those anuses who tried to overturn the presidential election and who cheered on the Capitol Lynch Mob. 

Back in May, the CCDF even made one of those anuses — convicted felon and coup advocate Michael Flynn — the guest of honor at some big local event/fundraiser. A fuller account of CCDF’s scandalous flirtation with Capitol Lynch Mob-supporting anuses can be found here.

Given the CCDF’s celebration of figurative anuses, I find it curious that a number of them showed up to yell at School Board members Tuesday night about biological anuses and bladders, or least clinical diagrams of them. 

As near as I can tell, the CCDFers thought they had some sort of gotcha when they found a 6th grade health curriculum diagram labeled “the reproductive system” that had the “anus” and “bladder” labeled. That’s it. Just identified and labeled. There was no hint of sexual content — beyond the clinical “reproductive system” label….

Excited by the words “anus” and “bladder,” a number of CCDFers berated the School Board Tuesday night — over and over and over again — about “anal sex,” which they clearly think about far more than 6th graders do. 

See this dude for an example, starting about 58:30 of the board video hearing, linked here. Paraphrase: was this anatomical diagram with an “anus” and “bladder” labeled on it a secret coded nod to “homosexual behavior?…”

“Bladder?” Is bladdering a thing? 

I guess I’m just an old school, traditional, 26-year married, sexually-sheltered man; because I can’t figure out, mechanically, where the bladder fits into the CCDF sex fantasies. I suppose I could ask the CCDF, as curriculum experts, to explain their sexualization of the bladder to me so I could understand it. But … I really don’t wanna. 

The anti-choice anus people think they own your kids’ education

So, just go ahead and label the drawing “reproductive and excretion system” and/or “the plumbing” if your mind rushes off to weird sex images when you see the words “anus” and “bladder” written down on a clinical anatomy diagram in a 6th grade curriculum packet. 

But, in that case, you also might consider intensive therapy. Normal people and parents don’t suffer from that pathology. 

And yes, normal parents, this handful of anus people want to control what your kids are allowed to encounter and learn in school. They want to dominate you and your child with their anal sex fantasy talking points. That’s not a joke. Not remotely.

From bladders to Beloved, they think they own your kids’ public spaces and the content they can engage in a classroom. These book-banning, sex-obsessed charlatans are the most fervent anti-choice force in education today.

Two of these anus people are already running against lifetime teacher and public education warrior Sarah Fortney in 2022 School Board re-election campaign. Another anus person is running for a different seat. So expect to hear a lot of talk about anuses in education in the coming year.

Open the link and read more about the anus people of Lakeland, Florida.

In an interview with disgraced ex-FOX News pundit Bill O’Reilly, Trump admitted that he was fully vaccinated and had received the booster as well. O’Reilly too is vaccinated.

Former President Donald Trump said he received a Covid-19 booster shot, revealing the news to former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly on Sunday during one of their “History Tour” live events.

O’Reilly also confirmed he received a booster shot, though neither said which one they received. null

The crowd began to boo Trump after he said he had gotten his booster shot, though the former president discouraged the jeers.

When the New York Times’ Maggie Haberman asked a Trump spokesperson why he changed his message on the vaccine and boosters, she received a handwritten note, signed “Donald.“ The first four words were underlined, according to the photo Haberman posted on Twitter.

“Must tell the truth — and very proud to have produced the 3 vaccines so quickly — million of lives saved worldwide — Best wishes Donald,” the note said.

While there has been opposition to vaccinations among some conservatives — just 60 percent of Republicans are vaccinated, compared to 91 percent of Democrats, according to The New York Times — Trump has touted his administration’s role in developing the vaccine…

While Trump reiterated his opposition to vaccine mandates, he said to his supporters that when they doubt the vaccine’s efficacy and safety, “you’re playing right into their hands.”

(The Pfizer vaccine was not funded by Operation Warp Speed.)

Nonetheless, Trump’s admission that he has received three shots might persuade some of his followers to take the shots, and that’s good for everyone. Maybe he realized that a disproportionate number of Trumpers were refusing the vaccine and putting their lives at risk. The more people refuse the shots, the longer the pandemic will go on and on.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has made himself the face of the anti-vaccination movement, embarrassing his family. His book attacking Dr. Fauci is at the top of the Amazon nonfiction bestseller list, and his foundation has raised millions of dollars. Even before the pandemic, prominent members of his family wrote a public letter criticizing his anti-vaccine views, which were spreading “dangerous misinformation.” How much worse they must feel now!

But when he threw a party, Politico reported, the guests were required to be vaccinated.

Kennedy blamed it on his wife, a likely story. This is akin to “the dog ate my homework.”

What a shame to see this man sullying his family name, although some might say there were plenty of others sullying it before him. But their private peccadillos fade in comparison to a man who urges the public not to protect themselves against a deadly virus.

This is what Politico posted:

TALES OF AN ANTI-VAXXER — Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is one of the most prominent anti-vaxxers in the country. So it came as a surprise when an invitation to a holiday party at his home in California last week urged attendees to be tested or vaccinated beforehand, two people familiar with the matter told Daniel Lippman.

When we called up Kennedy for comment, he pinned it on his better half, actress Cheryl Hines of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” fame. Kennedy said the party was for her entertainment industry friends and cast members, and he was unaware of what the e-vite invitation said before the day of the party.

“I guess I’m not always the boss at my own house,” Kennedy told Lippman. There was also no effort to verify vaccination or testing status of the attendees before entering, he said. (Hines didn’t respond to a request for comment.)

Just this week, Kennedy was the subject of a major AP profile titled “How a Kennedy built an anti-vaccine juggernaut amid COVID-19.” The article reported that the revenue of his charity, Children’s Health Defense, more than doubled in 2020 to $6.4 million. Last month, he released his new book, “The Real Anthony Fauci: Bill Gates, Big Pharma, and the Global War on Democracy and Public Health,” which continues to be a best-seller on Amazon.

Much to the surprise of the millions of people who admired Robert Kennedy, his son who bears his name has become one of the nation’s leading anti-vaxxers, sometimes allying himself with the bottom fishers of the far right.

The AP reported:

While many nonprofits and businesses have struggled during the pandemic, Kennedy’s anti-vaccine group has thrived. An investigation by The Associated Press finds that Children’s Health Defense has raked in funding and followers as Kennedy used his star power as a member of one of America’s most famous families to open doors, raise money and lend his group credibility. Filings with charity regulators show revenue more than doubled in 2020, to $6.8 million.

Since the pandemic started, Children’s Health Defense has expanded the reach of its newsletter, which uses slanted information, cherry-picked facts and conspiracy theories to spread distrust of the COVID-19 vaccines. The group has also launched an internet TV channel and started a movie studio. CHD has global ambitions. In addition to opening new U.S. branches, it now boasts outposts in Canada, Europe and, most recently, Australia. It’s translating articles into French, German, Italian and Spanish, and it’s on a hiring spree…

As Children’s Health Defense has worked to expand its influence, experts said, it has targeted its false claims at groups that may be more prone to distrust the vaccine, including mothers and Black Americans. It’s a strategy that experts worry has deadly consequences during a pandemic that has killed more than 5 million people, when misinformation has been deemed a threat to public health. The death toll in the United States hit 800,000 this week, and nearly a third of those people have died since vaccines became available to all adults in the U.S. Unvaccinated people are 14 times more likely to die of COVID-19 than those who get the shot, according to the CDC.

As vaccines have become a wedge political issue, Kennedy’s opposition to the shot has at times brought him close to anti-democracy forces on the right who have made common cause with the anti-vaccine movement. The scion of the country’s most prominent Democratic family has appeared at events that pushed the lie that the 2020 election was stolen and associated with people who have celebrated or downplayed the violent Jan. 6. attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Encouraging people not to get vaccinated in the midst of a global pandemic that has killed more than 800,000 Americans and millions of people around the world is downright disgraceful. People who listen to this Kennedy are risking their lives.

Jack Hassard taught science teachers for many years at the Georgia State University. He now blogs frequently at The Art of Teaching Science. This post contains a fascinating perspective on teaching science. Hassard reviews a new book by a fellow science educator.

He writes:

The author of the book is Charles R. “Kip” Ault, Jr. Kip and I have collaborated over the Internet for several decades without actually meeting each other.  Like many of you, the digital world of email and social media is the mode of communication that brings us together in personal and productive ways.  Kip and I know each other from the science education research and writing we’ve done over the last 30 years.  I’ve discovered that our career paths have crossed in several ways.  We both taught high school and university courses in geology and the earth sciences, and designed science teacher education programs.  Kip was professor of science education at Lewis and Clark University for 24 years. There he developed and directed the science teacher education program. 

As Hassard explains, Ault wrote a book in 2015 criticizing the value of the national science standards.

In 2015, Kip published the book, Challenging Science Standards: A Skeptical Critique of the Quest for Unity. The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), which were developed in 1999, were uncritically endorsed and granted outright compliance by the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), even though there has been a groundswell of teachers questioning these standards. And, very little criticism has been written from major research publications, until Kip Ault’s book Challenging Science Standards. If you haven’t read this book, you can use the link above to review it or read my review on my blog. 

Kip’s New Book

So, now, in 2021, Dr. Ault has published a new bookgiving us an inside view of science teaching and learning. Instead of being about science teaching, this is a book for science teaching. If you are in a student in a science teacher education program, a practicing science teacher, or professor of science education, I think Kip’s book will augment your deep feelings about how students learn and why science teaching should be in the service of student’s lived experiences. 

If you are science education researcher, this book will provide the theoretical rationale to design studies cutting across the spectrum of learning for all students. Kip’s four themes, Play, Art, Coherence, Community are big ideas from which studies can emerge. 

If you are a classroom science teacher, I encourage you to apply any or all of Kip’s “stories” that form the substance of his book. He’s cast the stories into four themes: Play, Art, Coherence, and Community. You’ll find specific ideas that you can apply to your own classroom that I think you will find enthralling.

Hassard wrote the introduction to Ault’s new book. He wrote:

Kip’s book is a creative path to a new paradigm of science teaching and learning.  His book is an amazing journey of stories and experiences in classrooms that will be familiar to you.  The international science education community has embraced the importance of qualitative research.  Descriptions of people, events and situations are hallmarks of qualitative methods.  Kip has filled his book with playful, aesthetic, meaningful, and compelling stories about learning in which context and the needs of students reigns.   Kip’s book is a qualitative treasure chest of new paradigm learning examples.  His book is also fun to read. He names some of his stories Wavy Elephants, Binary Banjos, Skull Sockets and Crowned Molars, Hells Pig, Vivid Canyons, Flashy Plumage, Wicked Extinctions, and Caring Communities.

Ault connects his science thinking to that of Leonardo da Vinci:

When you read this book you are going to be immersed into the mind of a science education writer who’s thinking is drawn from the science of Leonardo da Vinci. Kip has created a new paradigm that is rooted in Leonardo’s mind. I wrote this in my forward about why I think there is a link between Leonardo and Kip Ault. I wrote:

On Beyond Science Standards describes a world view that is holistic and ecological which is, according to Fritjof Capra[1], not unlike Leonardo’s.  Leonardo had developed a solid body of science.  But his science could not be understood without his art, nor his art without science. Walter Isaacson[2] and Fritjof Capra wrote separate biographies of Leonardo.  In their biographies, they explain that Leonardo’s scientific explorations informed his art.  Capra says that for Leonardo “painting is both an art and a science—a science of natural forms, of qualities, quite different from the mechanistic science that would emerge two hundred years later.” For Kip Ault, paleontology cannot exist without illustration, and he shows how art can be the center of methodology. Art can be the center of learning science. And it doesn’t have to be only paleontology. 

When I took science courses in high school and college, most of our time was spent memorizing facts about science. i didn’t get the point.

But Ault has a different vision of science:

Kip Ault believes that the purpose of education is to:

prepare citizens for lives of social responsibility in a democratically governed polity.  Kip reaches out to the science education community to claim that our present practices of teaching and routines of selecting what to teach will not help our students achieve that end. He concludes that immersing students in “scientific diversity” can be a journey uncovering aspects of ourselves and the universe promising immense pleasure and joy.  Kip Ault has written the book that I’ve been waiting for.

Someday soon, when dispassionate observers write about the pandemic, the biggest question will be why so many people fought to remain unprotected from the deadly virus. Rational explanations don’t work. Why would parents insist on their children’s “right” to catch the virus? Why would state governors and legislatures oppose life-saving mandates?

Here is an analysis of COVID death rates.

Blogger Grumpy Old Teacher (GOT) explains the competition between Donald Trump and Florida Ron DeSantis for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024 (both want to turn the clock back to 1924!)

Trump made DeSantis by endorsing him for Governor when he was an o score Congressman. Trump does not like ingratitude.

GOT describes DeSantis’ passion to ban mandates for masking in the schools.

How does Ron do it? One way is throwing raw meat, bloody and dripping, to the party’s base. Meat like convening a special legislative session to bar local school boards from implementing mask mandates as a public health measure during a pandemic….

The rallying cry these days for tearing apart public education and dividing the spoils among … edupreneurs, hedge fund investors, and TFA champions who signed up to spend two years in a classroom because they hadn’t figured out what to do with their lives and realized that they had staked out a claim to a gold mine.

DeSantis defends parents’ rights, among them the right for parents to spread sickness and disease to other people’s children.

It’s no surprise to GOT that he has had several children home in quarantine during November. It’s no surprise that he is receiving daily emails from students that they will not be in school. If they don’t say they have Covid, they say they don’t feel well, are running a fever, or having other symptoms.

Some mention a diagnosis of strep throat. It’s not only Covid that’s now running through the bodies of children. But we have discarded the lessons of the pandemic, that a simple mask and common sense regarding classroom practices go far to keep children healthy….

No masks, no vaccine, DeSantis is the cancerous version of that Vegas cliche: What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

He wants to be president. If that doesn’t frighten you, this should: he would likely bring Richard Corcoran to Washington to be his Secretary of Education. Trust GOT, that would make you nostalgic for the days of Devos.

The American Civil Liberties Union filed suit against the state of South Carolina for its law banning mask mandates, on grounds that such a ban jeopardizes students with disabilities.

The ACLU released the following explanation:

Right now, schools are resuming during yet another pandemic surge. And in some states, instead of working to keep students and teachers safe, lawmakers are deliberately rejecting urgent public health guidance.

One key state to watch is South Carolina, where a budget provision passed this summer that prohibits public school districts from requiring masks.

South Carolina’s law endangers everyone, but particularly targets students with disabilities that put them at higher risk for severe illness, lingering disabilities, or even death due to COVID-19. As a result, lawmakers have effectively excluded students with disabilities from public schools.

That’s why we’re calling on the courts to intervene. This week, we filed a federal lawsuit challenging South Carolina’s ban on mask mandates in schools, on behalf of Disability Rights South Carolina, Able South Carolina, and parents of students with disabilities.

When schools are prohibited from taking reasonable steps to protect the health of their students, the parents of children with disabilities are forced to make an impossible choice: their child’s education, or their health.

And under federal disability rights laws, public schools cannot exclude students with disabilities, nor can they segregate them or offer lesser services by requiring them to learn from home.

Let’s be clear: Schools are obligated to give students with disabilities an equal opportunity to benefit from a public education. State politicians cannot override federal disability rights laws.

SC’s law flies in the face of public health guidelines from the CDC, from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, from the American Association of Pediatrics, from the American Medical Association, as well as advice from hundreds of physicians and educators across the state. All recommend universal masking.

Refusing to follow public health guidelines disproportionately endangers students with disabilities who have health conditions that make them vulnerable to COVID-19.

Regardless of where you live, what happens in a state like South Carolina – which has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country – impacts all of us. We won’t stop fighting to guard our civil rights and liberties during this pandemic – in all 50 states, D.C., and Puerto Rico.

Please stay tuned for more updates and thanks for all you do.

Suzan Mizner
Pronouns: She, her, hers
Director of the ACLU Disability Rights Program