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Steven Newton
Steven Newton is a project director for the National Center for Science Education. He can be reached at newton (at)

Entries by Steven Newton

Science Education, Millennial Workers, and the Mad Skillz Gap

(0) Comments | Posted June 21, 2016 | 3:28 PM

According to a recent survey by PayScale, there is a giant gap between how millennials view themselves in the workplace and how they are viewed by their managers. Media fretting about how this alleged "slacker generation" is faring in adulthood often manifests in articles decrying the number of millennials...

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The "Evolution Crowd," A Deceased Gorilla, and One Particularly Petulant Primate

(5) Comments | Posted June 14, 2016 | 3:00 PM

rush limbaughIs Rush Limbaugh baiting NCSE? The thought crossed my mind when I heard his remarks in response to the unfortunate killing of Harambe the gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo. Using the highly-publicized killing of this great ape as a springboard to mock evolution,...

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Disrupting the Classroom, or How Self-Styled "Education Reformers" Always Get It Wrong, Part 3

(0) Comments | Posted April 25, 2016 | 1:25 PM

In Parts 1 and 2, we examined AltSchool's ideas about how to "disrupt" education using data and technology.  But the problems with education are not only due to a lack of technology, and they are certainly not due to teachers, teacher tenure, teachers' unions, flawed lesson plans, or grading rubrics....

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Disrupting the Classroom, or How Self-Styled "Education Reformers" Always Get It Wrong, Part 2

(0) Comments | Posted April 20, 2016 | 1:40 PM

Last time we examined an article by Rebecca Mead about AltSchool, a "disruptive" Silicon Valley educational system founded by a former Google executive, Max Ventilla. Let's look now at a few of Ventilla's statements to get a better sense of how AltSchool's educational "disruption" happens.

Mead's article quotes Ventilla...

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Disrupting the Classroom, or How Self-Styled 'Education Reformers' Always Get It Wrong, Part 1

(0) Comments | Posted April 19, 2016 | 1:18 PM

A recent article in The New Yorker exposed some interesting aspects about why educational "reforms" often fail. Highlighting the efforts of a Bay Area private school system started by a former tech executive, the author, Rebecca Mead, gets into great detail of how the "disruption" that upended the cab and...

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Florida Drowning

(1) Comments | Posted January 25, 2016 | 11:51 AM

florida under waterA recent article in The New Yorker, Elizabeth Kolbert's "The Siege of Miami," details disturbing consequences of sea level rise in Florida. The future will bring higher seas, but we normally think of climate change consequences happening nearer...

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Just What America Needs: Another Creationist 'Museum'

(0) Comments | Posted January 4, 2016 | 11:07 AM

Stunning! Interactive! Engaging! Creationist!

That's how the Institute for Creation Research might describe a new facility it proposes to build near its headquarters in Dallas. The prospective Dallas Museum of Science and Earth History" would be the "culmination of decades of study and research" by the Institute for Creation Research...

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And, But, Therefore: Randy Olson and the Art of Science Storytelling, Part 3

(0) Comments | Posted December 17, 2015 | 12:59 PM

In parts 1 and 2, we looked at Randy Olson's new book, Houston, We Have a Narrative: Why Science Needs Story, and saw a number of positive examples of how science storytelling can be done well to communicate science. But the techniques of dramatic storytelling are also available...

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And, But, Therefore: Randy Olson and the Art of Science Storytelling, Part 2

(1) Comments | Posted December 16, 2015 | 12:53 PM

Randy Olson, as you may know, is the scientist-turned-filmmaker whose movies include Flock of Dodos: The Evolution-Intelligent Design Circus and Sizzle: A Global Warming Comedy. Olson also wrote Don't Be Such A Scientist, and now has a new book, Houston, We Have a Narrative: Why Science...

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And, But, Therefore: Randy Olson and the Art of Science Storytelling, Part 1

(1) Comments | Posted December 15, 2015 | 2:50 PM

Opening a book about science communication by talking about Comedy Central's hyper-vulgar South Park is likely to lose many readers. And among these readers may be the mature scientists who most need to rethink how they communicate. But Randy Olson's new book, Houston, We Have a Narrative: Why Science Needs...

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Heartland Institute Event Convinces Scientists--No, Wait, I Mistyped That

(2) Comments | Posted December 9, 2015 | 2:06 PM

With so many of the world's major players in climate change gathered in the City of Light for the COP21 climate talks, it is not surprising that climate denialist groups are riding the coattails of this event to promote their anti-science agenda.

The Heartland Institute is one such group. As...

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Top 3 Reasons Why 400 ppm CO2 Is/Is Not the End of the World

(9) Comments | Posted November 20, 2015 | 2:32 PM

We will soon live in a world with an atmosphere permanently above 400 parts per million (ppm) CO2.

10 nov 2015 co2

As I discussed in part 1, sometime in the next year the last sub-400 measurement will occur. In fact, measurements...

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Who Counts as a Climate Scientist?

(8) Comments | Posted October 20, 2015 | 3:52 PM

A recent study published in Environmental Research Letters, "The climate change consensus extends beyond climate scientists," offers encouraging data, while at the same time perpetuating many of the errors that plague the public understanding of climate science.

First, the good news. The paper reports the results of university science...

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The Cave of Homo Naledi: A Textbook Example of How to Do Science

(4) Comments | Posted October 20, 2015 | 3:01 PM

"How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?"  --Sherlock Holmes

homo naledi



Recently, a magnificent new hominin fossil was announced: Homo naledi, known...

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Where Have All the Teachers Gone?

(40) Comments | Posted September 29, 2015 | 3:51 PM

Every year, as August slouches toward September, public schools around the country resume classes--and bemoan the difficulty of finding enough teachers:

  • The New York Times proclaimed "Teacher Shortages Spur a Nationwide Hiring Scramble," reporting that one North Carolina district was unable to fill 200 open teaching jobs
  • The...
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Epic Climate Change Textbook Fail

(21) Comments | Posted September 16, 2015 | 2:13 PM

Are our children learning science?pearson science

If those children are being taught about climate from Florida's fifth grade science textbook from publisher Scott Foresman (Pearson), then those children are learning from a text so riddled with glaring and obvious errors that...

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Where Does Climate Change Education Fit?

(3) Comments | Posted September 1, 2015 | 6:12 PM

AP GeologyClimate change is the most urgent existential issue we face, yet education about climate change is often missing in action from K-12 schools. Every high school offers biology courses, but few offer earth science courses in which climate change would...

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(0) Comments | Posted August 27, 2015 | 1:37 PM

July was hot. It was the hottest July on record, but more than this: it was the warmest month ever recorded on Earth. Let that sink in a moment. The first seven months of 2015 were all record breakers, and 2015 is on track to take the record for warmest...

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Creationism in the Grand Canyon, Part 1

(12) Comments | Posted July 30, 2015 | 2:02 PM

The recent federal government shutdown involved not only furloughing federal employees but also restricting access to our national parks. From Yosemite to Yellowstone, from Bryce Canyon to the Bright Angel Trail, countless people were turned away from what, for some, could have been a once in a lifetime experience. At...

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There and Back Again, Grand Canyon Edition

(1) Comments | Posted July 29, 2015 | 6:23 PM

Deer Creek Falls

Josh Rosenau and I have just returned from NCSE's annual rafting trip down the Colorado River and through the spectacular geology and biology of Grand Canyon. Our two motorized boats were packed with an eclectic mix of scientists, teachers, NCSE...

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