The new Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills
(TEKS) in science have been described as world
class. They move education from memorizing
one side of scientific explanations (stage 1) to
understanding both (or "all sides") of
scientific explanations (stage 4), via teaching
all sides and actively encouraging critical
thinking through analyzing and evaluating
In effect now, every high
school science curriculum includes the
requirement specified in what is referred to as
"TEKS 3A". The "as adopted" language of 3
and 3A currently read:
(3) Scientific processes. The student uses
critical thinking, scientific reasoning, and
problem solving to make informed decisions
within and outside the classroom. The student is
(A) in all fields of science, analyze, evaluate,
and critique scientific explanations by using
empirical evidence, logical reasoning, and
experimental and observational testing,
including examining all sides of scientific
evidence of those scientific explanations, so as
to encourage critical thinking by the student;(1)
Additionally, while the above is contained
in every science TEKS, other specific subject
TEKS (astronomy, biology, physics, etc.) that
could serve to awaken bored students to numerous
unsolved mysteries in various fields of science.
Some examples are:
Earth and Space
Science - Origin of Life - This new section
requires discussion of the origin of life,
specifically in the currently understood context
of the stunning complexity of the cell.
Section 13(F) expects students to:
(F) discuss scientific hypotheses for the origin
of life by abiotic chemical processes in an
aqueous environment through complex geochemical
cycles given the complexity of living systems.(2)
The origin of life issue, or how one gets
dead chemicals to living cells remains a
daunting challenge to neo-Darwinism.
Extremely complex and coordinating structures,
like the nuclear DNA code, the transcription
process, the messenger DNA traveling outside the
cell nucleus to "do work", and the ribosomes to
read the code and produce proteins from it, not
to mention the raw materials for the proteins or
the information contained in the DNA
code, are examples. This problem of
extreme complexity in functional systems is akin
to having to produce a self-reproducing
computer-controlled robotic machine and
the required power systems and software
to make it all work, all by random and
purposeless events! Dr. Meyer
addresses this in Signature in the Cell
(SITC), which we mentioned last month.(3)
A biologically correct animation of this
complexity in the cells of living systems can be
(lower right), or
Biology - Evolution - The old
biology TEKS was not specific with regards to
teaching evolution. In this new TEKS,
Biology section 7 is devoted entirely to key
tenets of evolution, all under the overriding
umbrella of 3A. This specifically includes
students being expected to "analyze, evaluate,
and critique scientific explanations" by
"examining all sides" of the scientific
For example, Biology 7 requires
discussion of three types of family tree
evidences, often discordant with each other.
Subpart (A) states students are expected to:
(A) analyze and evaluate how evidence of common
ancestry among groups is provided by the fossil
record, biogeography, and homologies, including
anatomical, molecular, and
Biology 7 goes on to specify learning about
three aspects of the fossil record, only one of
which supports current Darwinian explanations.
Subpart (B) states students are expected to:
(B) analyze and evaluate scientific explanations
concerning any data of sudden appearance,
stasis, and sequential nature of
groups in the fossil record;(5)
Importantly, Biology 7(G) expects students
(G) analyze and evaluate scientific explanations
concerning the complexity of the cell.(6)
Note: Dr. Stephen Meyer, who assisted the
SBOE in formulating these new standards,
addresses part (G) directly as a major challenge
to current neo-Darwinian theory in several
chapters of SITC. See below.
of the key tenets of Darwinism, the specific
TEKS requires not just rote learning and
regurgitation, but rather, that the student
"analyze and evaluate", again under the
overriding umbrella of TEKS 3A.
Importantly, please note that most textbooks
currently in schools do NOT cover these new
TEKS. Hence, good teachers will need to
bring supplementary materials to class to do so.
We would suggest you check
http://www.textaddons.com for clear
page-by-page additional information, keyed to
specific textbook publishers and specific year
of publication, by specific page numbers.
We might also recommend
Explore Evolution, which looks at
different scientific views of key tenets of
evolution, at least for satisfying many of these
new evolution-related TEKS. That and
several other recommended books and videos are
highlighted on our
Please encourage your
teachers and local school boards to adequately
address these and other new aspects of the TEKS.
They are in effect today, but enforcement,
ultimately, lies with parents and voters.
Let's help this school year get off to a
great start. We commend the Texas SBOE for
getting science courses back on track to being
interesting adventures in searching for the
truth about our world, wherever those searches
Very truly yours,
PS: We are
redoing our website as well. Check it out
when you can at
It has teacher resources, book and DVD
recommendations, and more. Let us know
what you think and what else may be helpful to
(1) Science TEKS, as approved and immediately
effective on March 27, 2009, in each of the
disciplines of science sections.
TEKS, Earth and Space Science, section 13(F).
(3) Dr. Stephen Meyer, Signature in the Cell,
Harper One, 2009. (More info below).
(4) Science TEKS, Biology, section 7(A).
Science TEKS, Biology, section 7(B).
Science TEKS, Biology, section 7(G).
PS: Some selected Apollo 11 videos are
The "Apollo 11's 35th Anniversary" is a nice
montage, (after clicking "Apollo 11 Video
Gallery" at the bottom of the linked page's home
Apollo 17 landing site as viewed from the
Hubble Space Telescope
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