Monthly Archives: January 2012

The State of State Science Standards

The vast majority of American public school students are not proficient in the level of science learning expected for their age group. The Thomas B. Fordham Institute has issued “The State of Science Standards 2012” as part of an effort to assess the causes of this dismal state of affairs. Here’s a map summarizing their results:

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State Science Standards Grades, 2012

Notice that some of the battleground states for the “Evolution-Creationism Controversy” have reasonable ratings. Notice also the vast regions of D and F states. In fact, in order to convey the meaning of it all, I’ve created a new version of the map that signifies all states with D and F rankings with one color, and all states with C or better grades with a different color (The “Pass/Fail” version of the test!):

Continue reading The State of State Science Standards

The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars

Michael Mann, famous climate scientist, has released a book called The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines (also available as a Kindle edition). I’ve not read it yet but I thought you’d like to know about it.

Michael Mann is the guy who came up with the Hockey Stick graph and metaphor. Early reviews are positive:

In this meticulous and engaging brief on climate change research and the political backlash to legitimate scientific work, Penn State professor Mann narrates the fight against misinformation from the inside. (Publishers Weekly )

An important and disturbing account of the fossil-fuel industry’s well-funded public-relations campaign to sow doubt about the validity of the science of climate change.
Kirkus (STARRED REVIEW)

If you don’t believe our climate is changing, read this book. Dr. Mann will change your mind. For us, it’s a war of words. Preserve the Earth, and pass the ammunition. (Bill Nye the Science Guy )

Lake Elmo Ice Fishing Contest Canceled

Organizers with the Lake Elmo Lions Club announced the cancellation of next Sunday’s ice fishing contest…

Organizers measured the ice on the lake at about 12 inches, and said it needed to be 18 inches for everyone’s safety, especially because most participants would be parking their vehicles along the lake’s edge.

…this is the second time in recent years the event had to be canceled because of warm weather.

Not from the Wall Street Journal

#occupy update

Things have gone south in Oakland

On Saturday, Occupy Oakland re-entered the national spotlight during a day-long effort to take over an empty building and transform it into a social center. Oakland police thwarted the efforts, arresting more than 400 people in the process, primarily during a mass nighttime arrest outside a downtown YMCA. That number included at least six journalists, myself included, in direct violation of OPD media relations policy that states “media shall never be targeted for dispersal or enforcement action because of their status.”

After an unsuccessful afternoon effort to occupy a former convention center, the more than 1,000 protesters elected to return to the site of their former encampment outside City Hall. On the way, they clashed with officers, advancing down a street with makeshift shields of corrugated metal and throwing objects at a police line. Officers responded with smoke grenades, tear gas, and bean bag projectiles. After protesters regrouped, they marched through downtown as police pursued and eventually contained a few hundred of them in an enclosed space outside a YMCA. Some entered the gym and were arrested inside.

As soon as it became clear that I would be kettled with the protesters.

..

Read the rest here

How do you know when to stop squeezing?

If you are a snake. And, what causes some island dwelling boas to be smaller than the mainland variety?

If you want to know the answer to these two burning questions, click here and visit Smithsonian’s Surprising Science where I’ll be guest blogging for a couple of weeks. For the first question, there is some new and very cool research. For the second question, some older (but closely related) research.