March 08, 2008

Challenger Learning Center of Tallahassee Weighs In Against Evolution

The Challenger Learning Center in Tallahassee has made the decision to assist Creationists in their efforts to undermine Florida's new science education standards. They're doing it by agreeing to show an exclusive screening of Ben Stein's anti-evolutionary biology propaganda piece, Expelled, for state legislators on March 12, as reported late yesterday by Florida Citizens for Science. FCFS has gotten hold of an email being circulated to Florida State Legislators inviting them to the screening.

According to Challenger's website,

The Center is the K-12 outreach facility of the Florida A&M University - Florida State University College of Engineering and uses aerospace as a theme to foster long-term interest in math, science and technology; create positive learning experiences; and motivate students to pursue careers in these fields.
Considering the intent of Stein's outrageous hit piece against evolutionary biologists, including historical clips used to credit the existence of goose-stepping totalitarian stormtroopers to evolutionary science, I'd say that Challenger has just failed miserably in its mission.

What's even more outrageous, though, is that while they're helping Creationists attack modern biological science, they're displaying the Florida State University logo all over their site. I'm an alumnus of that university; I got my undergraduate degree in biology from Florida State. It's a slap in the face that some institution within FSU is actually sponsoring this anti-science, fundamentalist-backed attempt to curtail science education in the state by influencing legislators.

I have this morning sent off an email to a number of people in the administration at FSU voicing my disgust with this situation. I'd encourage all those who read this journal and are concerned with science education in general to do the same. Here's a list of contacts at FSU:

Dr. Lawrence G. Abele (Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs):
Dr. Ching-Jen Chen (Dean of the College of Engineering):
Dr. Joseph Travis (Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences):
Dr. Steven Gey (College of Law):
Board of Trustees:
Michelle Personette (Interim Director & Marketing Manager of Challenger):

It might be worth noting that no one on the staff at Challenger Learning Center has a science degree; even the planetarium director has a degree not in science but in physical education. The Interim Director of the center has a degree in English. Only one member has even a minor in any sort of physical science (Susan Borland, "Flight Director" has a minor in Biology and Earth Science; her degree is in Health Education and Administration). Funny that a center supposedly chartered with encouraging children to pursue careers in the sciences has nobody who attempted to pursue a career in science in its administration.

Then again, considering that it would seem that Challenger is willing to lend its facilities to benefit Creationist efforts in Florida, maybe it isn't all that surprising after all.

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