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Thursday 11/12/15 brain dump

8:30 General session panel – teachers, science & societal controversy

Ken Miller on teaching evolution. 

Watch “Judgement Day” documentary on intelligent design (Nova). Read: Alan Leshner – “Bridging the opinion gap” (Science).

Bombarding people with facts doesn’t work. Information is not the key, in fact it may harden views. The problem is “cultural cognition” an unwillingness of people to identify with the scientific community because of a number of ingrained beliefs/practices (Dan Kahan).

– cultural connections to science matter.

– Is there hope? When you look at an age related breakdown, there IS. Young people are much more accepting of evolution.

Jacquelyne Gill – paleoecology at University of Maine

How did ecosystems respond to climate change in the past, and how can that inform what may happen in the future. (Forensics for the environment)

Communication requires an empathic connection. As scientists, we’re trained in factual defense, and this isn’t really the best way to go about it. Many people tend to reject the Consensus Model (statements like “97% scientists agree”). It’s not going to convince anyone. In fact, it’s important to recognize that many ideological differences are really about government and how much regulation we’re comfortable with.

In talking with people, “make an incremental push in the realm of trust.” This was a terrific talk.

Seth Mnookin – on vaccination – Putting his book “The Panic Virus” onto the stack

Do you make decisions based on emotions or truth? Both. First, find out the truth, the reality (as a journalist)

Emotions run the opposition. And the way to counter that is not by attacking it, but by an empathic connection. You can’t convince the conspiracy theorists. This connects with what Jacquelyn said. Make “I” statements about what works for you based on research.

I’m going to read this book.

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In addition to the Virtual Urchin simulation, I’m interested in a few more that were mentioned in Technology in the Secondary Science Classroom (Bell, Gess-Newsome, Luft). And as we understand that online and computer simulations don’t replace first-hand experiences, they do represent great supplemental material.

I teach a seventh grade class that includes Life Science and Environmental Science components, and a 9th grade Biology class. I’ll talk more about supplemental materials for my 7th graders with online data sets (post forthcoming). But there are quite a few that I’m looking forward to exploring more with my biology students.

The pbs.org You Try It pages contain the relevant content areas: Atom Builder, Human Evolution, and DNA Workshop.

I’ve found Cells Alive very unseful in the past when discussing (and illustrating) cell organelles, cell cycle, mitosis, and meiosis. The interactive portion of the website, including the animations and schematic diagrams, are clear and helpful to students.

For other topics in biology, I might consider trying ExploreLearning.com, although this is a commercial website, and I’d have to balance the benefits of its simulations with the cost of subscribing. It does look like they have a ton online. Here are the selected topics in Heredity and Genetics that they offer. I might consider trying the 30-day trial during that unit to get a feel for it. Does anyone have experience with this site that they can share?

Lasty, the Cell Biology Animations at www.johnkyrk.com look incredibly detailed. I plan on using those.

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