Archive for the ‘Teaching Science’ category

Use of Geothermal Energy Expected to Increase Worldwide

September 2, 2014

 

The number of geothermal powerplants worldwide is expected to increase by 73% between 2010 and 2015. Image source: geothermal-energy.org.

Electricity generated by geothermal powerplants is expected to increase by 73% between 2010 and 2015. Image source: geothermal-energy.org.

Most of the world’s electricity is generated using steam. Water is heated, generating high-pressure steam, which blasts out and spins a turbine. The turbine system creates motion of a magnet relative to wires, which in turn generates an electrical current, a phenomena Michael Faraday discovered in the 1830’s.

Powerplants mainly differ in the heat sources they use to generate steam. The most common heat sources are currently coal, natural gas, nuclear, and oil. A schematic of a steam turbine powerplant is shown below, courtesy of the South Texas Nuclear Project.

Schematic of a nuclear power plant. Notice how a closed loop of water is heated, passed over a turbine, cooled, and reheated. Image source: South Texas Nuclear Project.

Schematic of a nuclear power plant. Notice how a closed loop of water is heated, passed over a turbine, cooled, and reheated. Image source: South Texas Nuclear Project.

In the 21st Century, a growing trend is developing towards using geothermal heat sources. The amount of electricity generated by geothermal powerplants is expected to increase by 73% between 2010 and 2015. While geothermal powerplants are less efficient, they do have several advantages. The #1 advantage is they use the Earth’s heat. And beneath our feet lies an almost infinite supply of heat. 

Current geothermal powerplants are located where magma sources rise close to the surface. However, with improvements in technology, we should be able to access deeper and deeper heat sources. And, we can also vastly improve geothermal powerplant efficiency by using supercritical water(high pressure/high temperature) instead of steam. This was the goal of the Iceland Deep Drilling Project. In this first-of-its-kind system, they actually drilled into the magma, creating what is known as a magma-enhanced generating system. While the system is not currently operating, the project showed it is possible to use water near the supercritical phase, resulting in a much more efficient powerplant. 

The search for alternative energy sources continues as people become increasingly aware of the negative environmental impact of covering vast expanses of Earth’s surface with wind turbines and solar reflectors. God commanded us to be good stewards of His creation, and covering the land with windmills and solar reflectors is not a good management solution. Hopefully, cities and states will continue looking more and more at geothermal systems, with their small environmental footprint and low emissions. 

 

 

Jesus Christ, the Common Core of all DIVE courses

May 7, 2014

A Brief History of University

Late in the 12th Century, a phenomenon unique to Europe appeared, the university. University is actually a combination of two words, unity and diversity. Originally, universities were schools that owned no real estate, but were instead an association of teachers or students. Although not always theologically or scholarly accurate, what under girded the university was the unification of all subjects by an all-encompassing worldview. Christianity provided the unity that connected the diversity of courses offered.*

In other words, Jesus Christ was at the core of the worldview of original universities! Unfortunately, in the 21st Century, Christianity is no longer at the core of most educational systems. In the United States, the government’s new Common Core program has a godless, purposeless, evolutionary worldview at its core.

Who Interprets the Facts Matters

Cornelius Van Til (1895-1987), author of Essays on Christian Education, made the wise statement that, in this world, there exists a whole collection of facts. Would you rather have those facts interpreted to your child through a Christian or a non-Christian worldview?

For Christians, the answer should be simple. Jesus Christ is, or should be, the common core of all the subjects we teach our children. To the extent that we are able to, we should try to use curriculum taught from a Christian worldview. But that also doesn’t mean we need to fear books and courses that are taught from a non-Christian, or even anti-Christian worldview. We just need to train our children how to think critically about these things. If we teach them the Truth, they will be more capable of detecting false “philosophy and empty deceit.” (Colossians 2:8)

Pray that more Christian families will realize the problems of sending their children day after day to be taught in schools where Jesus Christ is not the common core. Pray that we can find new and creative ways to help those who, for various reasons, it would be extremely difficult or impossible to home school or attend a private Christian school. Pray for Christian families in countries where homeschooling and Christian schooling is illegal, that they will be able to help their children test everything they are learning, holding onto the good (I Thessalonians 5:21).

If you are interested in learning more about DIVE Math and Science courses, where Jesus Christ is the common core, click here.

*Paraphrased from Mathematics, is God Silent?, by James Nickel.

Homeschool Biology or Public School Biology?

October 3, 2013
While liberals promote anti-creationism hysteria, a generation of public school students could be handicapped with outdated science textbooks.

While liberals promote anti-creationism hysteria, a generation of public school students could be handicapped with outdated science textbooks.

In November, the Texas State Board of Education will vote on, among other things, whether to adopt new biology textbooks. Meanwhile, liberal media and political groups are having dinosaur costume parties, instead of working hard to correct the obvious lack of modern science in textbooks up for adoption.

Irrational liberals are fond of using the logical fallacy “conservatives are ant-science” strawman. But a quick look at the liberal activist group called the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) reveals a vastly different story. Sounding more like a villain of science than a hero, NCSE leader Eugenie Scott actually discourages teaching of 21st Century science to highschoolers, using the pathetic excuse that it is “too difficult“! Another NCSE leader, Josh Rosenau, told me he just doesn’t think the topic of epigenetics should be “mandatory,” as if we need to legislate common sense! In the 21st Century, the study of genetics and epigenetics go hand-in-hand. Genes are made of DNA, and epigenetic factors switch genes on and off at certain times and places during growth and development. Epigenetic changes can also be inherited, allowing offspring to adapt to changing environments without changing their DNA.

And it’s this “change without a DNA change” part of epigenetics, among other things, that has some folks in a panic. But why? Descent with modification is a scientific fact, and if you want to call that “evolution”, fine, although I prefer “adaptation.” But the problem is that some people then confuse the scientific forms of descent with modification with the historic/religious version, better known as “evolutionism”, a component of naturalism. And it’s the threat to naturalistic beliefs, not the threat to science, that has some folks in a panic over 21st Century science findings.

Like millions of other families around the world, my family homeschools. And like a lot of other homeschool families, God has given us the faith to believe the self-evident truth that a creation requires a Creator. We are happy to discuss dinosuar history, the Flood, Genesis, Jesus’ virgin birth, etc. with others. But these are historical truths, not testable, repeatable science. There is a difference between a historic thing and a scientific thing.

Unfortunately, it seems that liberal ideologues are more interested in attempting to protect their sacred cow of naturalism than they are about advancing learning for the next generation of students. Advancing learning for all kids should be something liberals and conservatives should agree on. Apparently, for liberals who realize modern science runs counter to their beliefs about history, disagreement is mandatory. Oh well, all the more reason to homeschool!

How to start a homeschool science co-op

February 15, 2013

Here’s a video I made about a typical day at my homeschool co-op science classes. I hope this video will encourage others to start a homeschool co-op in their town. I hope too that it will help skeptics see that Christians are not “anti-science”. And we aren’t against having fun while we do science either!

Sowing DIVE Seeds

October 11, 2012

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“……But others fell on good ground, sprang up, and yielded a crop a hundredfold.”  Luke 8:4-8

In the parable of the sower, Jesus used the analogy of a seed to help His disciples understand how the Word of God works in the lives of people. When God’s word falls on the “good ground” of a noble and good heart, the Word is kept and bears fruit with patience (Luke 8:15). It is because Christ is author of both the spiritual and material things that He is able to make such amazing comparisons between His word’s effect on a human, and what happens to a real seed when planted in the right soil.

The parable also applies to other things, including our DIVE math and science instructional materials. When they are planted in the “good ground” of a child and family that are willing to take the instruction and “bear fruit with patience”, the results are sometimes truly remarkable. The following are just two of many examples we hear almost every week.

The Brooks family wrote us on Oct. 8, 2012,

“As a child with autism, my son had an IEP (Individualized Education Program) in the public school system, but somehow, he was left behind. After changing schools in sixth grade, I was informed my son was three years behind his peers and his transcripts didn’t reflect his performance level. Their outlook was bleak, and less than aggressive in working with me to help catch him up. So I removed him from the public school system and started homeschooling.

Making a long story short, I’m proud to share with you, my son is [now] well ahead of his public school peers. He’s currently in his senior year taking AP Calculus, AP Physics, AP Government, AP Macro, AP US History.

While my son did all this work himself, I really owe you a huge piece of recognition for your quality CD’s. My son is proof, even a once diagnosed “low functioning” autistic can gain success. Thank you so very much for your contribution to his success. My son plans to work in the computer animation and engineering field. He too appreciates and recognizes your CD’s to help him achieve success.”

And here is an excerpt from Tiffini, who made a comment recently on my Producer Math post:

“I couldn’t seem to wrap my brain around algebra. Instead of help, I got a transfer to “consumer math”. I was so embarrassed, I couldn’t tell my friends about the class I was in. I had been labeled “dumb”, so therefore I thought that was the case. Unfortunately I didn’t make it through college, but I believe strongly in education, so I worked very hard to put my husband through college, med school, and residency. In 6th grade our son was having trouble in school. I didn’t want the same experience to happen to him. After much prayer and fasting, we decided to homeschool. It is definitely not the easy way out. I’m thrilled that as a freshman this year he’s doing very well in algebra 2 with geometry. I’m so thankful for the dive cd’s.”

Some things to notice from those two stories include:

  • Both are examples of individuals and families who have the “good ground” that is so essential for taking the “DIVE seed” and bearing fruit.
  • Both are examples of government schools failing to properly educate, and that should be a huge warning to you if you currently have a child, especially one who is struggling, in a government school. And for Christians, government schools are really no place to put your children anyways, because the goal is not to help your child become a creative Christian, rich in good works and ready to give, willing to share (I Timothy 6:18).

So what about your family? Is it “good ground” for sowing not just “DIVE seeds”, but any seeds? Is it filled with the thorns (Luke 8:7) of whining, complaining, hopelessness, anger, and laziness? If so, it is never too late to turn your thorny, rocky soil into rich, fertile ground. It may take lots of prayer, patience, and daily repentance and reforming, but with God, all things are possible (Matthew 19:26). Think about it, if the two families highlighted above can turn impossible things into possible ones, then by God’s grace you can, too!

Is the NCSE good for the world?

November 11, 2011

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No.

A name like the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) gives  the impression of an organization with a vision for improving science education. If NCSE were good for the world, it would be a clearinghouse of information for helping science educators stay updated on the latest advances in science, which they could pass on to students. It would cover all the sciences, and give helpful tips on science fundamentals such as the scientific method and the limitations of this inductive approach to studying our world. And of course it would focus heavily on mathematics, the language of science, with helpful resources to improve mathematics teaching. It would also have a special mission for helping the worst-performing schools, providing hope and encouragement to educators and students to study and apply science in ways that will help them be more productive for the glory of God and the service of others.

Unfortunately, the NCSE is none of these things. In fact, their mission is simply this: defending the teaching of evolution in public schools. Instead of being our national cheerleaders for advancing real science education, the NCSE instead is only about defending a single, faith-based natural history topic known as evolutionism. They confuse natural history with science, which in turn confuses others into thinking that science can answer all questions about the past. The reality is that natural history is a mixed question, and it requires inputs from other areas, such as historical documents like Scripture. Unlike normal scientific research, whose conclusions can be verified, conclusions made from natural history research cannot be verified. Treating origins topics as history instead of science causes people to realize that we all have the same evidence, the differences come in the interpretations, and some interpretations are definitely better than others. It also helps people realize that the creationism vs. evolutionism battle is not primarily a religion vs. science battle, but a battle of one religious belief vs. another. Many individuals, including those at NCSE, confuse the boundary between real science and natural history research.

So, the NCSE is not about promoting science, but evolutionism. Evolutionism is the faith-based idea that somehow, through a very long series of genetic copying errors, bacteria turned into people. And thanks in part to the NCSE’s dogmatic approach to education, this idea is the only major premise used in most biology curricula on the market today. Fortunately, not everyone believes the unverifiable claims of evolutionists.

The more we learn about cells, the more improbable evolutionism sounds. But the NCSE marches on, blind to the advances in 21st Century science, because real science naturally opposes their mission. And if you still don’t believe that the NCSE would choose evolutionism over testable, repeatable science, please, read on.

From June 13-17, 2011, I was able to participate on a Texas review panel for adopting new high school biology curricula in public schools. This process is designed to allow public participation in the review process, and State Board of Education members are allowed to appoint members of the public to a week-long review process. I was nominated by my State Board Representative, Mrs. Barbara Cargill. Texas adopted new high school biology teaching standards in 2009, and the review panels analyzed and evaluated the  new supplemental science curricula to determine if the standards were being met. We also checked for factual errors, but that’s another story.

One of the new standards approved in 2009 is called TEK 7G (TEKS = Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills), which required students to “analyze and evaluate scientific explanations regarding the complexity of the cell.” I thought publishers would jump on this opportunity to teach high school students about 21st Century research involving cell complexity, but I was sadly disappointed. I was also disappointed with the poor quality of some of the curricula, but a curriculum we reviewed by Holt-McDougal was better than most. Unfortunately, the presentation of TEK 7G was extremely weak, and consisted of an evolutionary explanation called endosymbiosis. Endosymbiosis, the turning of a prokaryote into a eukaryote (cell with a nucleus), has never been tested. It is an idea about cells eating other cells, and instead of becoming dinner, the consumed cells turn into highly specialized and purposeful cell organelles. Kind of like if you ate a hamburger, and, instead of being digested, it turned into a dolphin. Or something like that.

The review panels consisted of teams of 3-4 people, and I actually had to go against my other team members and reject Holt’s weak effort to address TEK 7G. One excuse a team member gave for approving it as-is was that what I had proposed would be “too hard” for students to learn! But a mark of a good educator is finding simple ways to explain complex concepts.

Fortunately, the only way for Holt’s weak attempt at addressing TEK 7G to gain approval was if our review panel voted unanimously in favor of it. So I rejected it, and you can read my reasons and suggestions here. I was pleasantly surprised when Holt accepted many of my suggestions. They could have disputed all of my suggestions, as they did with several factual errors our team presented, but they didn’t.

So now, besides endosymbiosis, students who use the Holt curriculum can also learn about 21st century science concepts like genomes, proteomes, and interactomes. Holt added a beautiful section titled 21st Century Cell Complexity, and presented it simply and clearly. And as I had hoped, they also directed teachers to the National Center for Dynamic Interactome Research, where, if you look, you can find an easy-to-understand laboratory activity that uses cell phones to explain interactomes.

While public school biology curricula have a long way to go, the ones from Texas are definitely better than ever at presenting students with alternatives to evolutionism. After Holt made some, but not all of the changes I had hoped for (I wanted them to include a “tree of life” that had multiple “trunks”), the changes still needed to be approved by the State Board of Education. Thankfully, they were adopted on July 20-21, 2011. Not surprisingly, the NCSE sent someone to promote censorship of the self-evident truth that living organisms were designed. Programs and Policy Director Josh Rosenau testified, and I later had the opportunity to meet him. In our brief but friendly conversation, I asked him what he would do if he had to choose between teaching endosymbiosis or teaching 21st century science on cell complexity. Without hesitation, Josh said he would have to go with the non-scientific idea of endosymbiosis! Oh well, at least Texas public school students will have a choice now on what to believe. Are cells specially created, multi-dimensional super machines and is there evidence to support this, or are they cannibalistic bags of salt? I’ll choose the former, what about you?

And that is just one of many reasons NCSE is not good for the world. Now they have a new documentary out that is the closest thing I have seen to white elitism in a long time. Like, since Hitler. Or Sanger. You have to watch the trailer, and see if you notice a seemingly white elitist message  proclaiming that portly, toothless, dark-skinned people with thick accents are the only ones who would consider teaching about alternatives to evolutionism. Immediately following the non-white man, a white woman explains how people who don’t believe in evolutionism are like people with severe handicaps. It could just be bad filmmaking, but the disrespectful, white-elitist message seems pretty clear to me. But then again I’m not sure if I would expect much different from people who have so much faith in Darwin, who based his ideas on Thomas Malthus’ 1800’s human population myths. And it was Malthus who proposed moving poor people to disease infested swamps so that they would be more likely to die, and this would keep their population in check!

Hopefully, this little blog post will open a few eyes to the censorship, misrepresentation of science, and possible white elitism that are NCSE’s agenda. Pray for their leaders to have a change of heart, and to no longer be deceived by hollow, deceptive and unscientific philosophies about origins that are based on the traditions of men, rather than on Christ(Colossians 2:8). Perhaps someday, instead of their current non-scientific mission, NCSE’s leaders will instead pay more attention to the words of Francis Bacon, founder of the scientific method, who wrote in his book, New Atlantis, of a place

sometimes called Solomon’s House, and sometimes the College of the Six Days’ Works, whereby I am satisfied that our excellent King had learned from the Hebrews that God had created the world and all that therein is within six days: and therefore he instituted that house, for the finding out of the true nature of all things, whereby God might have the more glory in the workmanship of them, and men the more fruit in their use of them, did give it also that second name.

Wow, a National Center for Science Education like that really would be good for the world!

Adaptation

October 13, 2011

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Life does not evolve, it adapts. Watch my YouTube video, Adaptation, and learn more about what 21st Century science is revealing regarding epigenetics, and what God’s word and works have always revealed. The only reason evolutionism exists is because some people think God is a liar. I say let God be true, and every man a liar (Romans 3:4)!

One thing I mention in Adaptation is that genetic mutations have never been observed to create new information. In this article by Dr. Rob Carter, he states that our increased understanding of cell complexity means “We have to make a distinction between mutation and ‘designed variation’.” Dr. Carter understands cell complexity better than most (including me!), and he argues that our genomes contain some ability to generate “new” information via genetic change. In other words, there is some built-in variation via genetic change that may seem to create “new” information to us, but in reality God designed it in. In my book, Exchange of Truth, I use the word “genoversity” to describe the diversity within a genome. When God said He created different kinds of things, he meant it, and now more than ever our understanding of cell complexity is revealing to us the limited flexibility He programmed into each genome for each original created kind. Diversity within a created kind is an attribute of God (Romans 12:4-5), allowing organisms to adapt, within limits, as their environments change.