TIES Weekly Update – February 28, 2017

Bertha Vazquez

The Teacher Institute for Evolutionary Science (TIES) stresses the importance of promoting teacher leadership in the United States. Here at TIES we feel that our fellow teachers are our own best resources. We are looking for high school and college biology educators who are interested in presenting our TIES workshops to middle school science teachers in their state. Our reasoning is that a middle school science teacher will typically cover many areas of science within his/her annual curriculum, including earth science, physical science, and life science. It is virtually impossible to become an expert in all of these areas, at least not initially. The purpose of TIES is to inform interested middle school science teachers about the most up-to-date concepts of natural selection, common ancestry, and diversity in order for them to confidently cover the topics in their classrooms and fulfill their curriculum requirements. In addition to providing science teachers with innovative professional development opportunities, TIES also has ready-to-use online resources for the classroom, including presentation slides, labs, guided reading assignments, and an exam.

We are excited by the wonderful work being done by Bertha Vazquez and the TIES Program, which was founded by the Richard Dawkins Foundation. Here area couple of recent activity reports to help introduce you to this important project.

  1. I was put in touch with a local school interested in a TIES workshop. I followed through and got a 3-hour workshop confirmed for March 16. It’s at West Miami Middle School.
  1. Our first quantitative study on students has now been designed with the help of a professor in Nevada and two teachers in Miami; we have a pre-test and a post-test for two groups of students. One group is receiving TIES instruction and the other is receiving traditional evolution instruction. Both groups are addressing the Florida Sunshine State Standards for evolution at the middle school level (which are quite good as I’ve mentioned before). In addition, each group will be further subdivided into regular and gifted classes. You cannot compare gifted kids to regular kids.
  1. Kenny Coogan was in Atlanta this week for an avian trainer conference. I am looking forward to hear how it went. He sent photographs of his TIES workshop there. He also added a workshop this week:
    • August 19, 2017, Evolution for Educators, presented by Larson Ankeny, Education Specialist, STEM Programs Coordinator, The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens, CA.

    We are now at 10 workshops so far for 2017.

  1. As mentioned in last week’s report, we will have also lots of student data coming from Georgia, with a little more teacher data coming from North Florida and North Carolina.
  1. I reached out to TTCs and teachers in Mississippi and Nebraska since they have their proposal page now open for their state conferences. And I think we will have good news coming soon from some efforts in Georgia, too, stay tuned.

Bertha Vazquez

Bertha Vazquez has been teaching middle school science in Miami-Dade County Public Schools for 24 years. She has BA in Biology from the University of Miami and a Master’s in Science Education from Florida International University. A seasoned traveler who has visited all seven continents, she enjoys introducing the world of nature and science to young, eager minds. An educator with National Board Certification, she is the recipient of several national and local honors, including the 2014 Samsung’s $150,000 Solve For Tomorrow Contest and The Charles C. Bartlett National Excellence in Environmental Award in 2009. She was Miami-Dade Science Teacher of the Year in 1997 and 2008 and was one of Florida’s 2015 finalists for the most prestigious science award in the country, The Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.