Keep Environmental & Ecology Standards in the PA K-12 Science Standards

Submitted on March 11, 2020 to the PA K-12 Science Standards Review Board.

To the PA Science Standards Review Board:

We, the members of the 500 Women Scientists Philadelphia Pod, urge the State Board of Education to keep the Environment and Ecology (E&E) standards in K-12 Academic Standards for our state, add a requirement to discuss the contributions of scientists from diverse backgrounds, and slow down the process for revising these standards so more input can be solicited.

Climate change is not a future threat. It is here, today, disrupting ecosystems and our daily life. We are seeing warmer winters and more rainfall in our state contributing to flooding, and these impacts will continue to grow. Heatwaves in summers will disproportionately affect urban areas that are heat islands like Philadelphia — exacerbating air pollution and straining infrastructure. Infestations, such as the spotted lanternfly, are becoming more common and impacting more regions. How we got here can be attributed to many things: fossil fuel companies lobbying politicians, pundits downplaying concerns, the increased quality of life that fossil fuels have provided for many, etc. But the greatest contributor to our collective inaction has to be the lack of a basic understanding of how carbon dioxide interacts with the other geological processes on our planet. These processes are certainly complex but the basic ideas are understandable by elementary school children. It is imperative that the PA Science Standards not remove the E&E standards from curricula. We cannot keep up the momentum towards 100% renewable energy sources without the continued education of our youth about the impact of human endeavors on our planet. The science behind climate change has always been clear, accepted, and unquestionable — that needs to be communicated to students in the E&E standards.

The solutions for climate change will never come from the status quo or continuing business as usual. We need new voices and ideas from all the unique backgrounds our humanity provides. For too long, science and technology fields have touted those voices and ideas that are white, male, straight, and able-bodied. This starts at the very beginning of our education and continues throughout — from elementary school up into the halls of academia. By centering these voices, we are unconsciously discouraging people who don’t fit this profile from a young age from engaging with science.

Research shows that diverse groups work smarter and come up with better solutions than homogenous ones. We cannot wait until these students make it to college to start building inclusive environments. We must start earlier.

The 500 Women Scientists Philadelphia Pod urges the PA State Board of Education to add a requirement for teachers to include diverse examples of scientists who have made scientific contributions to the PA K-12 Academic Standards. We list a few resources where teachers can find information on scientists from all backgrounds who have made significant advances to many fields of science. This list is not exhaustive and we encourage the Board to keep an updated list as a resource for teachers.

In order to promote inclusivity, this revision process must also be extended. The Board must hear from a diverse array of voices in order to ensure that the K-12 Academic Standards are meeting the educational needs of all children in PA.

Please do not hesitate to reach out to our organization if you have any questions or want to discuss these issues in more detail.

500 Women Scientists Philadelphia Pod

500womensciphilly@gmail.com

Resources for Diverse Scientists

https://massivesci.com/themes/our-heroes/

https://kids.nationalgeographic.com/explore/science/black-inventors-and-pioneers-of-science/

https://www.popularmechanics.com/science/g29460020/indigenous-scientists/

https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/86985/10-game-changing-hispanic-scientists-you-didnt-learn-about-school

https://www.pinknews.co.uk/2018/07/05/queer-scientists-history-first-lgbtstemday/ — minus the one about Newton, no real evidence for that?

https://www.500queerscientists.com/

https://request500womenscientists.org/

The Philly Pod of 500 Women Scientists is a grassroots organization founded in February of 2017 with a vision to make science more open and inclusive to all.

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500 Women Scientists Philly Pod

The Philly Pod of 500 Women Scientists is a grassroots organization founded in February of 2017 with a vision to make science more open and inclusive to all.