Georgia Citizens for Integrity in Science Education – promoting scientific literacy and excellence in science education

February 7, 2014

Televangelist Pat Robertson calls the literalist view of six-day creation “nonsense.”

Category: News – bioslp 7:41 PM

In response to the Nye/Ham debate Robertson is quoted as saying “We have skeletons of dinosaurs that go back 65 million years,” Robertson said. “To say it all dates back to 6,000 years is just nonsense, and I think [it’s] time we come off of that stuff, and say this isn’t possible.  Let’s be real; let’s not make a joke of ourselves.”

Link to original story here


May 28, 2013

Rhode Island is First State to Adopt the Next Generation Science Standards

Category: Educators Resources,Information,Press Releases – bioslp 2:34 PM

When will Georgia provide this opportunity for our kids?

via NSTA:

<<Rhode Island has become the first state to adopt the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) after a unanimous vote on May 23 by the members of the state’s Board of Education.

“Rhode Island is proud to be the first to forge a new path for science education as both a leading state in the development and the first state to adopt the Next Generation Science Standards,” said Rhode Island Education Commissioner Deborah A. Gist. “The new standards will make sure our students are exposed to rigorous science content and that they learn critical and contextual thinking skills needed to be prepared for college, career and life in the 21st century global economy.”

The NGSS establish educational goals that can give K–12 students the skills and knowledge they need to be informed citizens, college ready, and prepared for STEM careers.

The standards are voluntary and were developed with the leadership of 26 states—including Rhode Island—that chose to be a central part of the development process and who pledged to give serious consideration to adopting them. NSTA was a partner in the development process and supports their adoption nationwide.

In other NGSS news, on June 13 from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. ET, Education Week will host a web seminar featuring a state and a district official as they explore the changes in science education envisioned by the new standards and what they will mean from the state and district levels down to the classroom. Presenters include Alan King, curriculum director, Kansas City School District, and Peter McLaren, science and technology specialist, Rhode Island Department of Education.>>

April 2, 2013

Scientists and Public School Teachers Team Up to Transform Science Education

Category: Educators Resources,Press Releases – bioslp 12:32 AM


Tufts Now

March 26, 2013

BOSTON — A research paper published online this month in Academic Medicine highlights the successful development, implementation, and effects of an infectious disease curriculum that has now been piloted in five Boston Public Schools. Student engagement and interest in the infectious disease material increased after the curriculum was implemented. Based on pre-and post-tests, student understanding of the course content more than doubled regardless of gender or ethnicity, also attitudes and self-efficacy toward the material improved compared to other students.

The curriculum is part of the Great Diseases Project, a collaboration between researchers at Tufts University School of Medicine and teachers at Boston Public Schools, designed to teach teenagers about real scientific methods and health-related concepts, with the goal of increasing scientific and health literacy.

The study reports that the infectious disease curriculum increased student engagement, science literacy, and critical thinking in the 11th and 12th grade students who participated in the pilot program in Boston schools. Importantly, it also developed the teachers’ knowledge and self-confidence with the new course material and strengthened the researchers’ science communication skills. By the end of the 2013 academic year, the Great Disease modules will have enrolled close to 850 students from schools in Massachusetts, Virginia, and Ohio.

In its 2011 framework for science education, the National Academy of Sciences reported that   science education standards must change so that students are exposed to authentic scientific ideas and practices. While the national effort to refine standards is ongoing, the success of the Great Diseases Project contributes to models for development and implementation of science classes to meet the improved standards.

“How science is taught in high school differs greatly from how it is carried out in a real-life laboratory. Our curriculum teaches critical thinking, based on scientific inquiry as it is actually practiced in laboratories around the world,” said Karina F. Meiri, Ph.D., professor at Tufts University School of Medicine, and member of the Cell, Molecular & Developmental Biology; Pharmacology & Experimental Therapeutics; and Neuroscience program faculties at the Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences at Tufts. “Not only that, but health science is usually taught as part of the physical education curriculum. It is not surprising therefore that high school students lack the up-to-date information that would help them make health-related decisions.”

“Our approach is effective because researchers and teachers partnered to develop life-relevant content that engaged students, and because it provides teachers with intensive support as they themselves learn to teach this very novel content,” she continued.

The infectious disease curriculum, which takes a full semester of class time, was designed by biology teachers from two Boston Public Schools teaching students at very different paces, along with Tufts faculty, postdoctoral researchers, and medical students. The group met regularly to identify the core concepts for the infectious disease curriculum, based on national and state science education standards.

After core concepts were determined, the Tufts team developed an intensive series of seminars to prepare the teachers to develop the infectious disease course. The teachers, with support from Tufts researchers, then worked together to create individual lesson plans and activities targeted to the 11th and 12th grade biology students at Boston Latin School and at Madison Park Technical and Vocational High School.

“A major issue in the high-stakes testing environment of high schools is the tension between covering a wide range of topics (breadth) and learning deeply about each topic (depth). Most high school biology textbooks don’t teach infectious disease in a way that students can apply it to their lives. Our new curriculum helps students at all academic levels to understand what causes disease, what causes diseases to spread, and how our bodies fight these diseases,” said Gene Roundtree, M.Ed., a biology teacher at Madison Park Technical and Vocational High School, who used the curriculum in his remedial MCAS classroom. “I believe our curriculum is successful because every lesson is a unique challenge – students participate in labs, debates, competitive card games, and even an auction as part of the curriculum.”

“One of the goals of the Great Diseases curriculum is to create and maintain teenagers’ interest in science as it relates to medicine and disease,” said co-author Kathleen Bateman, M.Ed., director of mathematics and science at Boston Latin School. “We created interest by selecting subjects that are reflected in the students’ lives – colds, flu, MRSA, and other infectious diseases. The students stay engaged because they work in teams to formulate questions and critically evaluate data, much as they would in an actual laboratory. The new curriculum, organized around diseases, combines best practices in science education with the hands-on experience of medical school and laboratory researchers.”

“One of the challenges of making curricula effective is creating a system of teacher support that will ensure implementation. When content and lesson materials are novel and complex, teachers need to have confidence in their understanding of the new material. We created a comprehensive support system for the teachers and avoided embedding concepts and pedagogy into materials that we did not fully explain,” said first author Berri Jacque, Ph.D., a 2010 graduate in immunology of the Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences at Tufts and research assistant professor at Tufts University School of Medicine.

The comprehensive support system involved pairing teachers with Tufts specialists for mentoring. Tufts researchers provided models that enabled each teacher to visualize how classroom discussions could evolve and provided video of teachers implementing the curriculum in a classroom. The comprehensive support system increased teachers’ self-efficacy and their knowledge of the course content. The Tufts medical and Ph.D. students, and postdoctoral fellows, improved their understanding of how to transfer scientific knowledge through the process of developing the seminars and the related material for the teachers.

The infectious disease curriculum is the first of four health-related curricula in the Great Diseases Project that also include other “great diseases” relating to neurological disorders, metabolic disease, and cancer. Each module uses a range of teaching strategies, including labs, case-based studies, and multimedia presentations.

This research is supported by award numbers R25RR026012 from the National Center for Research Resources and R25OD010953 from the Office of the Director, both of the National Institutes of Health.

Additional authors include Katherine Malanson, Ph.D., a graduate of the Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences at Tufts and post-doctoral fellow with the Great Diseases Project, Tufts University School of Medicine; Bob Akeson, M.Ed., biology teacher at Boston Latin School; Amanda Cail, M.Ed., biology teacher at Madison Park Technical and Vocational High School; Chris Doss, M.Ed., former biology teacher at Boston Latin School now at Stanford; Matt Dugan, M.Ed., biology teacher at Madison Park Technical and Vocational High School; Brandon Finegold, M.Ed., formerly a biology teacher at Madison Park Technical and Vocational High School; Aimee Gauthier, M.Ed., and Mike Galego, M.Ed., both biology teachers at Boston Latin School; and Lawrence Spezzano, M.Sc., M.Ed., biology teacher at Boston Latin School.

Jacque B, Malanson K, Bateman K, Akeson B, Cail A, Doss C, Dugan M, Finegold B, Gauthier A, Galego M, Roundtree E, Spezzano L, Meiri KF. (May 2013). The Great Diseases Project: A Partnership Between Tufts Medical School and the Boston Public Schools.  Academic Medicine, 88(5), 620-625. doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e31828b50fb. Published online 21 March 2013.

About Tufts University School of Medicine and the Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences

Tufts University School of Medicine and the Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences at Tufts University are international leaders in innovative medical education and advanced research. The School of Medicine and the Sackler School are renowned for excellence in education in general medicine, biomedical sciences, special combined degree programs in business, health management, public health, bioengineering and international relations, as well as basic and clinical research at the cellular and molecular level. Ranked among the top in the nation, the School of Medicine is affiliated with six major teaching hospitals and more than 30 health care facilities. Tufts University School of Medicine and the Sackler School undertake research that is consistently rated among the highest in the nation for its effect on the advancement of medical science.


 If you are a member of the media interested in learning more about this topic, or speaking with a faculty member at Tufts University School of  Medicine or another Tufts health sciences researcher, please contact Siobhan Gallagher at 617-636-6586.

February 9, 2013

Professor and GCISE member Mark Farmer on Global Warming

Category: News – bioslp 11:10 PM

Global warming is threatening marine life



Excerpted from the Athens Banner-Herald, Dec 12, 2012:

“The proverbial “canary in a coal mine” invokes an image of a living early warning system that cannot only detect perilous changes in the environment but has the capability to warn us about the unseen dangers that are often lurking just below the surface of our understanding.

lurking just below the surface of our understanding.

Pteropods are small marine mollusks commonly found in Arctic and Antarctic waters. Unlike most snails and slugs, pteropods do not crawl along the bottom. The name “pteropod” means “flying foot,” and they swim by means of winglike flaps, giving the impression that these delicate creatures are soaring through the water.

Microscopic plankton, abundant in polar seas, is the principal food of pteropods. Many other creatures, including large fish such as salmon, depend on pteropods for a major part of their diet. In turn, killer whales, bears and other top predators feed on the fish. Thus, pteropods play a critical role in the food web that makes polar seas among the most biologically productive places on the planet.

But all that is changing.

Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has been rising steadily, the result of burning fossil fuels. Since 1850, worldwide carbon dioxide levels have increased nearly 45 percent. Nearly a quarter of this greenhouse gas is absorbed into the world’s oceans, where it reacts with water and produces carbonic acid — the same sort of acid as found in soda.

As carbonic acid has accumulated over time, the chemistry of the oceans has been slowly changing. The seas have become more acidic, presenting a problem for pteropods which, like other snails, have shells.

These shells are composed of a form of calcium carbonate known as aragonite. All pteropods have shells when they are young, but a heavy shell makes swimming difficult, which is why adult animals have either very thin shells — or in some cases, have lost them altogether.

The problem with maintaining a thin shell comes from the fact that aragonite dissolves in acid. A laboratory study in which pteropods were raised under increasing levels of acidity showed that the animals had to spend more and more energy to keep from having their shells disappear altogether. At a certain point, they could not keep up, and they simply died.

Based on these findings, researchers warned that pteropods could become very stressed, and if ocean acidification continues, they could begin to disappear. But it now seems that their dire predictions about this happening in the next few decades were wrong. It’s already under way.

A new study, based on samples collected in 2008, shows that wild populations of pteropods from Antarctic waters are suffering the same sort of damage that was seen in the laboratory. Ocean pH has already decreased to levels which cause shells to begin dissolving, and the animals are in a very poor state of health. Should southern populations of pteropods crumple, entire marine ecosystems will collapse with them.

The only real solution is to slow, and eventually stop, the buildup of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and to do so as quickly as is humanly possible.”

Complete article at

February 5, 2013

The Five Fingers of Evolution: A Tutorial

Category: Educators Resources,Information – bioslp 11:21 PM

This TED-Ed episode has a very simple and accessible way of explaining how evolution works.  Share it with a teacher!


January 27, 2013

Texas Republicans oppose teaching thinking skills

Category: News – bioslp 12:57 AM
Making their agenda shockingly apparent, the Texas Republican party has stated: “We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs that are simply a relabeling of Outcome-Based Education (OBE) (mastery learning) which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.”



January 15, 2013

SICB lifts boycott of New Orleans

Category: News – bioslp 12:29 AM

From NCSE       January 14th, 2013

The executive committee of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology is again willing to consider New Orleans to host the society’s annual meetings. Back in 2009, the society decided not to hold any future meetings in New Orleans owing to “the official position of the state in weakening science education and specifically attacking evolution in science curricula,” according to a February 5, 2009, letter (PDF) from SICB’s president, Richard Satterlie, to Louisiana’s governor Bobby Jindal. Particularly of concern to SICB was the so-called Louisiana Science Education Act, enacted in 2008, which threatens to open the door for creationism and scientifically unwarranted critiques of evolution to be taught in the state’s public school science classes. The cost to Louisiana’s economy in 2011, when SICB held its meeting in Salt Lake City rather than New Orleans, was estimated at $2.7 million.

Now, however, citing “the May 2011 New Orleans City Council’s unanimous vote rejecting the teaching of creationism as science and the December 2012 Orleans Parish School Board’s decision to prohibit the teaching of creationism or intelligent design in classes designated as science classes,” SICB is lifting its boycott for the city. In a column published by WWLTV (January 14, 2013), activist Zack Kopplin, who helped to organize both of those votes as well as the lifting of the SICB boycott, commented, “In this creationism-riddled state, New Orleans is a bright spot,” praising the city council and the parish school board for “standing up for science.” Kopplin concluded, “Teaching creationism is wrong, and we must keep up fighting it in Louisiana, but thanks to y’all our state’s policy appears to be evolving to a more scientific place.”

January 9, 2013

Next Generation Science Standards 2nd Draft Available

Category: Educators Resources,News,Press Releases – bioslp 3:05 PM

Georgia is one of the lead states for the development of an improved, standards-based science curriculum for K-12 public schools.  The second draft of the NGSS is now available for comment.  The NGSS were developed to address the nation’s critical need for a scientifically literate workforce.  The U.S.  is performing far below the level of our competitor nations in science and mathematics education.  Job opportunities in the science and technology sectors are expanding, but America’s young people are ill-prepared to succeed in these areas.  Increasingly the nation is losing out in the competition for development of new high-tech products and services.  More information on the development of the standards is available at  The standards themselves can be viewed at .  The NGSS development team and the State of Georgia are to be congratulated for their participation in this effort.

December 9, 2012

Is the GOP backing away from its support for creationists?

Category: News – bioslp 7:00 PM

Is this part of a trend?

Pat Robertson, inventor of the Religious Right said on The 700 Club  “Look, I know that people will probably try to lynch me when I say this, but Bishop Ussher wasn’t inspired by the Lord when he said that it all took 6,000 years,” Robertson said. “It just didn’t. You go back in time; you’ve got radiocarbon dating. You got all these things, and you’ve got the carcasses of dinosaurs frozen in time out in the Dakotas.”  Hmm.

Marco Rubio, governor of Florida has changed his apparent beliefs from “Whether the Earth was created in 7 days, or 7 actual eras, I’m not sure we’ll ever be able to answer that. It’s one of the great mysteries.”  in a GQ interview to “There is no scientific debate on the age of the Earth. I mean, it’s established pretty definitively. It’s at least 4.5 billion years old” in a Politico interview.  Why the change of mind?

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, chair of the Republican Governors Association, said on CNN in relation to some of the gaffes made by conservative candidates during the election:  “We need to stop being the dumb party. We need to offer smart, conservative, intelligent ideas and policies.”

Would that include the Louisiana legislature’s idea to support teaching public school kids that the Loch Ness monster is a real living dinosaur and that the earth is 6,000 years old, Governor Jindal?

The US is being vastly outperformed in the global science education arena.  It is critical for the economic success of the United States to teach our children cutting edge- not cutting floor- information about science.


November 8, 2012

Darwin gets the write-in vote in Athens

Category: News – bioslp 11:57 PM

via the Athens Banner-Herald, 8 November 2012:

In apparent response to State Rep. Paul Broun’s comment that evolution and other areas of science are “lies straight from the pit of hell”, Charles Darwin received almost 4000 votes as a write-in candidate against Broun in his re-election bid.

full story at