Category Archives: STEM

Accelerated Christian Education: A Program Designed to Brainwash Children into Creationist Nonsense

Today I learned about the existence of an alternative curriculum used in creationist private schools: Accelerated Christian Education. Their goal? By teaching students a curriculum built on the foundation of “the Word of God”, the idea is that these students will be able “to see life from God’s point of view, to take responsibility for their own learning, and to walk in Godly wisdom and character”.

But what exactly are they teaching these students, in order to get them to BELIEVE IN THE POWER OF DA ALMIGHTY LORD?

This is the curriculum laid out for parents as a guideline for teaching their students in the Godly way. The education, as one might have guessed, is intended to teach children about the Bible alongside history, science, English, and math.

Uh oh.

The science curricula is as follows (quoted):

Science 1 (Grade 1) (PACEs 1001-1012)
The student:

  • Pronounces and learns new vocabulary words as they are defined and used in the text.
  • Discovers God’s wisdom as he learns about God creating Earth and Earth’s movements, the four seasons.
  • Learns about the design and care of the human eye and ear; high, low, soft, and loud sounds.
  • Learns about the importance of personal health—clean teeth and hands.
  • Gains a respect for God as he learns about God’s wisdom, goodness, kindness, and that all things belong to God.
  • Reads stories and answers questions about God’s creation.
  • Continues to build eye-hand coordination by drawing shapes, irregular shapes, and directional lines.

Science 2 (Grade 2) (PACEs 1013-1024)
The student:

  • Expands his knowledge of the days of Creation, the first man and woman.
  • Learns about animals, changes in seasons and weather, heavenly bodies, plains, flat lands, valleys, hills, and mountains. 
  • Enlarges his vocabulary with the introduction of new words. 
  • Builds reading comprehension. 
  • Continues to build eye-hand coordination by drawing shapes, irregular shapes, and directional lines . 
  • Learns how God made every person unique through the introduction of fingerprints, etc.
  • Learns about the five senses. 
  • Is encouraged in character development through examples given in each PACE.

Science 3 (Grade 3) (PACEs 1025-1036)
The student:

  • Observes the faithfulness of God while learning about the solar system.
  • Learns about the concept and measurement of time.
  • Learns about animal and plant life cycles.
  • Recalls and continues the study of God’s Creation.
  • Studies Bible topics such as Jesus’ return; sin, death, and the curse; man’s freedom to choose to love and obey God.
  • Read stories using new vocabulary and visual discrimination.
  • Looks at geological changes after the Flood—jungles and hot lands, tundra and cold lands, volcanoes and earthquakes.
  • Is encouraged in character development through examples given in each PACE

[…]

Science 5 (Grade 5) (PACEs 1049-1060)
The student:

  • Explores living and nonliving matter and active, dormant, and extinct volcanoes.
  • Learns about energy—work, force, kinetic, potential, and radiant energy.
  • Studies oceanography, astronomy, comets, and the aurora borealis.
  • Studies the outer, inner, and middle ear; hearing difficulties; and vibration, pitch, and frequency of sounds. 
  • Studies molecular and atomic theories; friction, heat, and gravity; and expansion and contraction.
  • Views dinosaurs and fossils from a Biblical perspective. 
  • Learns the relationship between the Bible and botany, meteorology, and zoology.
  • Discovers the Bible to be the final authority in scientific matters.
  • Learns new vocabulary words in each PACE.
  • Is encouraged in character development through examples given in each PACE

[…]

Science 8 (Grade 8) (PACEs 1085-1096)
The student:

  • Explores the wonders, resources, and cycles of God’s Creation.
  • Searches proofs of Creation and the Flood.
  • Studies astronomy—the stars, familiar and unusual, their purpose and message, and planets of the solar system.
  • Learns about the structure and measurable qualities of Earth’s atmosphere, climates, weather factors and forecasting, and the hydrosphere.
  • Looks at the foundations of the world—Earth’s layers, topography and mapping of the world, soil formation and conservation, and weathering and erosion.
  • Discovers Earth’s buried treasures—understanding, classifying, using, and appreciating our mineral resources.
  • Is encouraged in character development through examples given in each PACE .

Biology (Grade 9) (PACEs 1097-1108)
The student:

  • Views the wonders of the Creator as he studies the structure and function of man’s skin, skeleton, and muscles; the central nervous system; blood and circulation; nutrition and growth.
  • Observes scientific proof for Creation of fish, amphibians, reptiles, and invertebrates.
  • Examines mammals—their characteristics, migration, and hibernation; groups and body structure of birds; characteristics and classification of plants.
  • Learns the system of scientific classification.
  • Uses character stories to apply Scriptural principles to everyday situations

Emphasis mine.

Is this about teaching children the scientific method, or is it about indoctrinating children into never questioning the Bible, ever?

Also, seriously? You’re not going to teach students anything about genetics? AND you’re forcing students to look for “scientific proof” of creationism as described in Genesis 1-2? AND you’re teaching them that despite evidence to the contrary, the Bible is THE FINAL WORD on all things?

How is that science, and how is this in any way acceptable?

Health (PACEs 1-6) 1/2 Credit
The student:

  • Learns the importance of proper nutrition, both spiritual and physical; types of nutrients; a balanced approach to exercise, diet, and weight loss.
  • Examines a Biblical view of tobacco, alcohol, harmful drugs, sexually transmitted diseases, AIDS, and mental and emotional health.
  • Gains valuable information on safety in six basic areas: home, transportation, job, school, personal safety, and safety for children.
  • Learns about basic first aid treatment and care such as bites, bleeding, burns, fractures, and choking, taking a temperature or pulse, and blood pressure reading.

$10 that the “Biblical view of tobacco, alcohol, harmful drugs, sexually transmitted diseases, AIDS, and mental and emotional health” involves abstinence, no premarital sex, AIDS is punishment for gay people, and absolutely NOTHING on birth control methods such as condoms and the Pill.

Just, oh gods. Oh gods, no.

This isn’t science. This is a brainwashing campaign.

And unfortunately for us,

In the United Kingdom, UK NARIC has deemed qualifications based on ACE to be comparable to A-level. Ofsted routinely whitewashes ACE schools in reports, and ACE nurseries teaching creationism receive government funding.

In New Zealand, ACE qualifications are accepted for university entrance.

In the USA, ACE’s Lighthouse Christian Academy is accredited by MSA-CESS. The curriculum is used in government-funded creationist voucher programs in eleven states.

In South Africa, based on HESA’s recommendation, a number of universities have signed up to accept ACE graduates.

ACE says its curriculum is used in 192 countries and 6000 schools worldwide. This is happening nearer than you think.

Oh gods. Please, no. No. This needs to stop.

Happy Birthday Grace Hopper!

Google is honoring Grace Hopper’s 107th birthday today.

Of course, if people haven’t read any of my earlier posts, I really, really, really like Grace Hopper, a pioneer in computer science and developer of the first compiler, as well as coming up with the idea of computer programming languages and popularizing the term “debugging”.

Why can’t schools go over amazing women like her?

Happy 107th Ms. Hopper, may you rest in peace.

“I’M TOTES A SCIENTIST NOW!!” or How to Impress People Untrained in Science [NaturalNews mocking]

Mike Adams is showing off his “fancy tech” in a new post on NaturalNews, thinking that having fancy technology a scientist makes.

Hint: it doesn’t.

What you’re looking at in the photo is part of an atomic spectroscopy laboratory with extraordinary capabilities including parts per trillion detection of atomic elements as well as advanced, high-level isotopic ratio analysis capabilities. Somewhere in the background there’s also a collection of Ion-Selective Electrodes with various testing capabilities.

I’m not yet showing you all the instrumentation, but anyone who knows their way around a lab can probably recognize the peri pump in this photo and figure out what it’s attached to. (Hint: It’s worth more than a Lamborghini…)

Wow, I’m supposed to be impressed that you spent a few hundred thousand dollars on a spectrometer? Color me unimpressed.

The red object on the workbench with the open lid is a standard centrifuge. This one happens to be capable of 10,000G.

Oooh, a desktop centrifuge! It’s not like other laboratories have this, right????

The diagram in the center of the board is a simple drawing of an ion multiplier, which is one of the components used in my food science research.

And what are you researching, exactly?

The glasses on my head are lab safety glasses. I’m also wearing protective gloves, but you can’t see them in the photo. Unwisely, I sometimes conduct R&D in the lab wearing a short-sleeved shirt instead of a long-sleeved lab coat. (I’ve decided the lab coat is just too cumbersome…)

You know you’re a real scientist when you say “screw it, I’mma go COMMANDO in a LAB FULL OF FREAKING CHEMICALS, MANY OF WHICH THAT CAN BURN MY SKIN OFF!”. </sarcasm>

The important thing to note here is that this lab is not theater. This isn’t a green screen setup, and it’s not a bunch of fake props. In fact, at the moment this photo was taken, some of the systems in the background were actually running.

“Dudes, this lab is totes legit! Really! See, some of them actually work and actually do things, see?”

Throughout 2013, I’ve been heavily engaged in high-level analytical chemistry and atomic spectroscopy training and research. On January 7, 2014, I will begin announcing a series of food science breakthroughs that, as promised, will reshape the food industry and absolutely revolutionize personal health. Based on what we are about to announce, every individual who seeks outstanding health, amazing cognitive function, healthy offspring, longevity and freedom from chronic disease will now have a powerful, transformative new science-based paradigm from which to accomplish those goals with clarity and consistency.

This research completes my own transition from activist to scientist, and it also signifies a radical reshaping of the editorial focus of NaturalNews.com onto transformative solutions for personal and planetary health.

“High level”? “Transformative”? “Breakthroughs”? “Reshape the food industry and revolutionize personal health”?

Is this an advertisement or an article? And why are we supposed to be impressed about the fact that it’s “high level” (in mother freaking BOLD)?

I think I can wait a month to see what happens next.

The Night Sky: Bigger, More Beautiful, and In Real Color

PRETTY. Credit to PetaPixel

OHMAIGAWDSSOPRETTY. Credit to PetaPixel

One of my friends (an astrophysicist if I remember right) showed me this link just now, and I think it’s worthy to share, since finals are coming up and I need a little bit of just plain awesome. Don’t you?

LINKY for the news article as well as the interactive interface.

Basically, this amateur photographer traversed from the US to South Africa, taking over 40k photographs and putting it together to make a star map of awesome.

Now all I need to know is how the hell am I going to get a larger version of that image for my desktop wallpaper, because SCIENCE IS AWESOME.

Ms. Shakuntala Devi, Google’s Person of the Day

Today I opened a new page intending to go to WordPress and make up a new post (mocking Adams or whatever, I guess?) when I saw this on my home page (which happens to be Google).

Google Homepage - 04 Nov 2013

Yes, I use Chrome. Chrome > Firefox, IMHO.

Now normally, I notice the special Google thing, think “oh, okay,” and go on with my day. What made me stop was when I hovered over the macro and it said “Shakuntala Devi’s 84th Birthday”.

“Shakuntala’s Devi? I don’t know who she is.”

Exactly. I didn’t know who she was either.

*click* went the mouse, and boom!

“Child prodigy”, “Human Computer”, and holy<bleep>sheissomuchsmarterthanme.

Really. Ms. Devi is known as the “Human Computer” because she was able to do mathematics in her head — akin to Matilda in Roald Dahl’s children’s book Matilda. And not just the multiple of 14 and 16, of course.

From Wikipedia (I left the citation notes on purpose):

In 1977 at the Southern Methodist University she was asked to give the 23rd root of a 201-digit number; she answered in 50 seconds.[1][4] Her answer—546,372,891—was confirmed by calculations done at the U.S. Bureau of Standards by the UNIVAC 1101 computer, for which a special program had to be written to perform such a large calculation.[11]

(Evidence on whether Ms. Devi was able to levitate chalk and push over water glasses with brainpower through her eyeballs has yet to surface.)

In addition, she was pro-LGBTQ, and wrote a book called The World of Homosexuals. This book called for the decriminalization of homosexuality in India and full acceptance of homosexuals within society.

Now why don’t I hear about women like her in history class?

Happy Birthday, Ms. Devi. And thank you Google for bringing her up to my attention.

Women (or the Lack of Them) in STEM

Note: this is an expansion of two comments that I made on Manboobz. [1], [2]

How it Works - credit to xkcd.

How misogyny works in the STEM fields. Credit to xkcd. Shared under xkcd’s Creative Commons license.

As a student studying for a STEM-field related major and aiming for a STEM career, I’m a member of a small group of women who are pursuing something science or technology related. A study done in Illinois shows that about about 39.5% of women coming out of Illinois high school are attempting majors in STEM (see page 8 for the table). Women make up to less than a quarter of the workforce in STEM (sauce), and in many STEM fields (engineering mostly), women make up less than 10% of the workforce.

(For the record, I’m doing biochem, aiming for either medicine or biotechnology, haven’t decided which one yet. I can totally see myself doing biotechnology for the rest of my life, genetically modifying organisms for GOOD. Yes, anti-GMO people, I know you hate them and I know you think that they’ll kill you or whatever. You’ll probably hate me for thinking of pursuing biotech. But GMOs are perfectly safe. However, that’s a different subject, possibly a topic for a future post. Stay tuned.)

The gender disparity between men and women in STEM is so wide that numerous groups have gotten together to try to discuss and resolve the issue. After all, women are a little more than half the world, and they are half of the Internet (rules 28-30 of the Internet be damned! Misogyny on the Internet will be another topic.). And yet in the US, 18% of computer science degrees are awarded to women, 22% of software engineers are female, and 6% of CEOs in the top 100 tech companies are women. And while I’m not actually studying for a major in computer technology, this difference is so huge that when a female programmer shows up, she is often-times the token female, and is often the target of misogyny and unwanted sexual harassment and advances. It’s such a big problem in Linux that someone had to write up an entire page on the do’s and don’t’s of encouraging new female programmers.

But why? Why does this disparity exist? And why are women often discouraged from majoring in STEM?

Part of the problem might stem from the experiences described by the tech journalist mother whose daughter was discouraged from majoring and making a career in computer programming, despite the fact that the mother had encouraged her and the fact that the daughter in question was very knowledgeable, extremely bright, and well connected. In all likelihood, she would have succeeded and done well. But because of misogyny and harassment that went either unnoticed or ignored by the male computer programming teacher, she refused to take more programming classes in one semester, and no amount of encouragement will ever get her to come back.

Women are the subject of sexual harassment and of violent threats. But why?

Is it because these men do not see women as equals? After all, for most of human history, women were seen as inferiors, as property, as vessels for one-sided sexy times, as a dependent, as like a child. Women are objectified, their bodies and the promise of sex being used to sell things from cars to body wash for men (Axe commercials anyone?). The Bible is highly misogynistic, with passages punishing women for losing their virginity, passages declaring her unclean during her period and after pregnancy, passages requiring her to marry her rapist if he refuses to pay her virgin price (but it’s only rape if she cried out while she was being raped of course!).

Laws were in place for much of the 18th and 19th century denying married women the right to her own property, the right to vote, the right to keep her wages. She was expected to get married, and expected to take care of the home and care for babies. She was in the care of her father, and then her husband, and finally her sons; she never really got a chance to do things herself. Only if there were no men around (and if she was single) was she able to achieve some semblance of independence.

Women were denied entry to numerous institutions, denied access to many careers, especially science-related fields such as medicine. Elizabeth Blackwell was only accepted into medical school in the US by a fluke of chance — the dean took her acceptance up for a vote, and if one male student (the male being superfluous at the time) objected, she would have been denied entry. The male students there thought it a joke and unanimously voted to accept her. If a woman achieved, she was not given credit, hidden by all of the male faces that accepted the awards and the acclaim for her work (see: Rosalind Franklin). Recognition for her work might take decades to surface; Franklin’s work was acknowledged as hers 25 years later, and that was buried under Watson’s descriptions of his negative regard for her in his book The Double Helix. By then she was dead.

Women were thought to be too stupid, too irrational, too emotional, too fragile, and hence all of the sexism and misogyny and restrictions regarding her agency made sense. Women are seen as bodies, sex objects, and hence all of the men feel entitled to treat her as a potential date/sex buddy and not as a coworker. If she refuses, it’s a insult to him and she must be a bitch!

Unfortunately, this attitude STILL exists today. And why? Because they were (and still are by many misogynists) seen as inferior and as sex objects.

And unfortunately this is the reason why women are often discouraged from STEM.

Throughout history, if women did something of note, her contributions were hidden and credit was given to the men. If she failed, she represented all women, the face of inferiority and stupidity as shown in the xkcd comic that opens this post.

In science and history classes, we hear a large amount of amazing men who contributed to science and technology, making civilization better. We know of Crick and Watson, Charles Darwin, Ernest Rutherford, Mendel, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, etc. But where are the women? Where is Ada Lovelace, Grace Hopper, Lise Meitner, Emmy Noether, and others?

The one female scientist that everyone knows about is Marie Curie. But is she the only person that we should be looking up to as women wanting to work in STEM?

I think not.

We can totally do better in encouraging women to take on STEM.

Give us Lovelace, give us Hopper, Meitner, Noether. Give us encouragement. Treat us as people, as equals working for the same goal. Give us credit for our work. Recognize the women who worked in (and improved) STEM throughout history. Treat us as individuals with distinct personalities, not as representatives of an entire monolithic group. Treat us as your fellow coworkers, not as your potential date.

And leave the misogyny and the sexist attitudes at home.