TIES Weekly Update – March 14, 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. We confirmed two more workshops this week, including the biggest and most important science educator conference in the country.
    • March 30, 2017: National Association of Science Teachers Annual Conference, Los Angeles, CA, presented by Nicoline Chambers
    • October 22, 2017: Kansas Association of Science Teachers, Wichita, KS presented by Kathleen Warnock
  1. We have sent in proposals for TIES professional development workshops in New Mexico and Oklahoma.
  2. I worked with the TIES presenters whose workshops are next on our calendar, in Michigan and Wisconsin. In addition to being comfortable with our slide presentation, they must be able to introduce at least one hands-on classroom activity and one online evolution game. They must also show the participating teachers the many free resources found on our webpage.
  3. I’m getting ready for my own TIES workshop this coming Thursday at a local middle school.
  4. I met with local celebrity Dave Barry. He has agreed to interview Richard Dawkins at his Miami event on May 27, 2017. I can’t wait to help Dave develop his questions for Richard! Can you imagine them discussing why the opening of the koala’s pouch faces downward towards the ground? Not exactly intelligent design.
  5. From Kenny Coogan: “The CFI / Dawkin’s FB page shared one of our TIES posts and it reached 300,000 people, compared to our normal 1,000. From February 23 to February 24, we gained 25 fans/followers. On February 23, I posted several pictures of my workshop and shared them on the IAATE’s FB page (10k followers) and it was shared on RDF. We have 868 fans. Up by about 200 since November.”

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.