science

Melissa Lau is preparing for the coming school year. She teaches 6th grade science in Piedmont, just northwest of Oklahoma City. Inside her classroom, she’s laid out over thirty cross sections from the trunks of red cedar trees. Each ring represents one year of growth. Lau calls them “tree cookies.”

Emily Wendler / StateImpact Oklahoma

George Wang, a senior at the Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics, recently made a discovery that disrupts a fundamental theory in chemistry.

He’s modest, and little shy about his finding, but Fazlur Rahman, his chemistry teacher at the high school in Oklahoma City, is ecstatic.

“It’s a wonderful feeling, isn’t it?” Rahman said. “That’s cool!”

George’s discovery came about because his teacher asked him to think outside the box.

Rahman was teaching about the Carbon atom, and its natural tendency to form four bonds, which he says is basic chemistry.

Zoe Travers

The state’s market for engineering and technology jobs is growing, but the test scores of Oklahoma students lag behind national averages on science and math test scores. Researchers say one way to fix this gap is training science educators to do more than teach the facts — and to think beyond the textbook.

The head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, has proposed a new rule that restricts scientific research that can be used by the agency for its regulatory decisions.

The proposed rule only allows the use of studies that make all data publicly available for anyone to analyze. Pruitt proposed the new rule as a way to make the agency's decision-making more "transparent, objective and measurable."

The decision by Bill Nye to attend the State of the Union Address alongside the Trump administration's nominee to head NASA has put the celebrity science educator at odds with many scientists.

Nye, who starred in the children's program Bill Nye the Science Guy and now has his own Netflix original series, Bill Nye Saves the World is also CEO of the Planetary Society.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

It's a Saturday at Choctaw High School, but for hundreds of Oklahoma teachers, there's a training class in session. Carrie Miller-DeBoer perches atop a stool monitoring a pair of soda bottles linked with a small length of thin plastic tubing created to mimic enhanced oil recovery, while teaching chemistry fundamentals.

"I love it and my students will be so excited," she says.

Since NPR Ed first published this piece last year, it has become one of our most popular posts of all time. And since then, there has been a little anecdotal proof of concept for these parenting theories:

Oil's Pipeline to America's Schools

Jun 16, 2017
ILLUSTRATION BY EBEN MCCUE

Jennifer Merritt’s first-graders at Jefferson Elementary School in Pryor, Oklahoma, were in for a treat. Sitting cross-legged on the floor, the students gathered in late November for story time with two special guests, state Rep. Tom Gann and state Sen. Marty Quinn.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahomans joined thousands of people in more than 600 cities on Saturday in a march for scientific freedom organized to send a message to state and national lawmakers.

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