KCFS Update 3/31/06

KCFS Update
March 31, 2006

Welcome to Update, the weekly e-letter of Kansas Citizens For Science.

Be sure to visit our website at http://www.kcfs.org . See our new Web log and past editions of “Update,” access information about the science standards, or click “Discussion Forums” and participate in lively conversations!

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EVENTS
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Greater Kansas City Science and Engineering Fair
Sponsored by Science Pioneers
March 29-April 2, 2006
Union Station, Kansas City, MO

Science Pioneers creates innovative and supportive educational activities that encourage the youth of Greater Kansas City to understand and use science in their careers and everyday life. The flagship event is the Greater Kansas City Science and Engineering Fair each spring. Founded in 1956, Science Pioneers offers many additional programs that help area students and teachers to improve their knowledge of science and math.

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And while you’re at Union Station, check this out:

Digging for Dinos
Kansas City Star – March 26, 2006

You may not have realized it, but there are dinosaurs among us. The place to see them is Science City in Union Station, where the Dino Lab recently celebrated its one-year anniversary. . . .More information on the Dino Lab, which shows kids the scientific process involved in prepping dinosaur specimens, is at http://www.sciencecity.com

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Evolution 101: Understanding Evolution for the layperson

Presented by Jack Krebs
President, Kansas Citizens for Science; member, Kansas Science Standards Writing Committee; and high school educator

April 6 and April 13, 7:00 pm
Shawnee Mission Unitarian Universalist Church
7725 W. 87th Street
Overland Park, KS

This event is part of a series of four events sponsored by Shawnee Mission Unitarian Universalist Church (SMUUCH) during April:

* April 6 Evolution 101 class 1, Jack Krebs
* April 13 Evolution 101 class 2, Jack Krebs
* April 20 Title TBD, by Dr. Dick Wilson, former Biology Department Chair at Rockhurst University
* April 22 or 29 Special tour of the Kansas Museum of Natural History, Dr. Leonard Krishtalka, Director

All events are open to the public, and admission is free.

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Take Back Kansas:
How We Can Move Kansas Back to the Middle, and Why It Matters

Wednesday, April 19, 2006 – 7:00 PM
Hays High School Lecture Hall
2300 E. 13th, Hays, Kansas

o Learn more about public education, religion and schools, and the Kansas BOE.
o Speak with three organizations working to promote moderate values and issues.
o Learn how you can help.

Hear from Sue Gamble, Republican, Kansas State Board of Education, District 2; Kansas Families United for Public Education; Kansas Alliance for Education; and MAINstream Coalition.

Sponsored byKansas Alliance for Education.

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KCFS Board member Keith Miller, Associate Research Professor of Geology at K-State, has accepted an invitation to participate in a panel discussion being sponsored by the New York Times and held at The New College in New York City on May 8. The topic of discussion is “Religion and Science: Are they in Conflict?” Two of the other confirmed panelists are Robert Pollack (biology professor and director of the Center for the Study of Science and Religion at Columbia University), and Philip Kitcher (professor of philosophy at Columbia). More details later.

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KANSAS
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Not Enough Abstinence Education?

Johnson County Sun – March 30, 2006

Kathy Martin, a conservative majority member on the Kansas Board of Education, proposed adding abstinence to the state’s model health education standards.

The measure could be placed on the board’s April 11 agenda. . . .

The course would be offered for at least nine consecutive weeks as part of the state’s accreditation requirements. . . .

Sue Gamble, moderate member from Shawnee, said Monday that adopting the measure would require local school boards to offer the class to remain accredited.

“I can’t tell you how strongly I object to this proposal,” Gamble said. . . .

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Math, Science Academy Coming

Johnson County Sun – March 30, 2006

“Make A Difference – Leave a Legacy” has been the motto for two Lenexa men’s campaign for a Kansas Academy of Mathematics and Science for selected high school juniors and seniors. . . .

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Viney: Intelligent Design Debate Has a Long History

March 31, 2006 – Pittsburg Morning Sun (requires log-in)

Intelligent Design may have made recent headlines for its battle against evolution for a spot in Kansas classrooms, but Don Viney, Pittsburg State University social sciences professor, said the debate goes back much further.

Viney told his philosophy of religion class on Thursday that Plato, an ancient Greek philosopher, was among the first to look at teleological arguments for the world, or arguments based on the study of a purpose. Plato said that a deity likely designed the world, but didn’t create it in the classical sense, rather molding things out of elements.

“Plato knows fully well that he is outside the realm of empirical reality, outside of science,” Viney said. “He not only knows that, he tells you that. He calls it some sort of quasi-mythical account. It’s not quite myth, and it’s not quite science. It’s more like philosophy. Intelligent Design is just the latest wrinkle of an old argument.” . . .

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Conservatives Face Full Slate of Opponents in Elections

LJ World – March 28, 2006

Conservatives on the State Board of Education up for re-election this year now face opponents in the primary and general elections.

The latest candidate to announce is Jack Wempe, of Lyons, a Democrat and former chairman of the Kansas Board of Regents. Wempe also is a former legislator and school superintendent.

Wempe will seek the seat now held by Ken Willard, a Hutchinson Republican who represents District 7, which includes all or parts of 20 south central counties. . . .

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SCHOOL FUNDING
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School finance debate clears House hurdle, sights set on Senate
http://www.kansas.com/mld/kansas/news/state/14180896.htm

House passes school funding plan
http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansascity/news/local/14182128.htm

Sebelius statement on House school finance vote
http://www.kansas.com/mld/kansas/news/state/14181112.htm

Policy details contained in House school finance plan
http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansascity/news/local/14180727.htm

Votes change before they’re recorded
http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2006/mar/25/votes_change_theyre_recorded/?kansas_legislature

House roll call on school finance
http://www.kansas.com/mld/kansas/news/legislature/14179273.htm

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NATIONAL
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Evolution vs. God: Author Says the Two Are Compatible

Newport Daily News – March 27, 2006

. . .[Kenneth] Miller, a professor of biology at Brown University and author of “Finding Darwin’s God: A Scientist’s Search for Common Ground Between God and Evolution,” spoke Sunday at the Central Baptist Church. Miller’s presentation was entitled, “God, Darwin & Design: Faith and Science in Conflict,” and drew a crowd of about 50 members from the Jamestown community. . . .

After Miller’s presentation, Frank Robertson, the pastor of Central Baptist Church, said, “It’s refreshing to see a view that is not polarized, a view of reason that accepts that both sides can exist. I’ve thought in the past, what are they arguing about? The arguing is what is so far removed from Christianity.” . . .

“Just because people have evolved doesn’t mean that they are outside of God’s plan for creation,” Miller said. “How do we know that God didn’t intend for it to be this way.”

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Testing Darwin’s Teachers

Los Angeles Times – March 31, 2006

Sometimes disruptive but often sophisticated questioning of evolution by students has educators increasingly on the defensive.

LIBERTY, Mo. — Monday morning, Room 207: First day of a unit on the origins of life. Veteran biology teacher Al Frisby switches on the overhead projector and braces himself.

As his students rummage for their notebooks, Frisby introduces his central theme: Every creature on Earth has been shaped by random mutation and natural selection — in a word, by evolution.

The challenges begin at once. . . .

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OPINION/EDITORIAL
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Sex, Fear, and the Kansas Board of Education

BeyondChron – March 27‚ 2006

Blue Thoughts From a Red State

The Kansas State Board of Education is quickly developing a reputation as one of the most maverick decision-making bodies in the nation. And, for progressive Kansans, this embarrassing collection of bureaucrats has once again reared its irresponsible head, this time on the matter of sex education. . . .

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This Gospel Finds Satire in Kansas

Mike Hendricks – KC Star – March 27, 2006

Just in time for the upcoming election season, a book comes out this week that is sure to remind voters — and the rest of the world, for that matter — of that divisive issue:

The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster (192 pages; Villard; $13.95)

You’ve never heard of the Flying Spaghetti Monster? Well, if the book is even a fraction as popular as the Web site on which it is based — millions of hits and counting — look out, Kansas.

The evolution jokes will be coming at you again. . . .

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Does Anyone Out There Really Care About Dover?

Science & Theology News – March 28, 2006

Judge John E. Jones III’s decision in the Dover trial has been heralded as a great victory for science and science education and a major setback for intelligent design and creationism.

It is neither of these. The Dover trial is simply the latest — certainly not the last — in a long line of largely irrelevant and inconsequential legal challenges to the teaching of evolution in America. . . .

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SCIENCE DISCOVERIES
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Researchers: Epilepsy Cause Identified

March 30, 2006

MESA, Ariz. – Researchers have identified a genetic cause for epilepsy, which could lead to the development of medicines to treat epilepsy and autism, the Translational Genomics Research Institute announced Thursday.

“This is the first step” in finding a cure for the childhood-onset diseases, said Dr. Dietrich Stephan, director of the neurogenomic division of TGen, the Phoenix-based research group that focuses on treatments and cures for genetically related illnesses. . . .

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ID DISCOVERIES
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Professor Behe? Anything yet?

Hmmm.

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BLOGS/SITES TO WATCH
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Red State Rabble
http://redstaterabble.blogspot.com

Thoughts From Kansas
http://jgrr.blogspot.com

The Panda’s Thumb
http://www.pandasthumb.org

Talk Origins
http://www.talkorigins.org
The foremost source for information about evolution, creationism and related topics.

National Center for Science Education
http://www.ncseweb.org

Creationism’s Trojan Horse
http://www.creationismstrojanhorse.com

Website maintained by Barb Forrest and Paul Gross, co-authors of “Creationism’s Trojan Horse: The Wedge of Intelligent Design.” Lots of interviews, reviews, info from the Dover trial, and articles.

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Kansas Citizens for Science is a not-for-profit educational organization that promotes a better understanding of what science is and does, by:

* Advocating for science education
* Educating the public about the nature and value of science
* Serving as an information resource

If you are a supporter of science education, please join KCFS now. Go to http://www.kcfs.org/join for details.

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Kansas Citizens For Science http://www.kcfs.org kcfs@kcfs.org