New Boy Scout merit badge: Sustainability

July 25, 2013

It’s Eagle required, too — well, Scouts can choose either Environmental Science or Sustainability, but must earn one or the other to earn Eagle rank.

Image of the Sustainability merit badge, from MeritBadge.org

Image of the Sustainability merit badge, from MeritBadge.org

Requirements for the new Sustainability merit badge were released on July 16, concurrent with the 2013 National Scout Jamboree at the Summit.  A lot of people missed the announcement, I’ll wager.

It’s good news.  Conservation and nature-related merit badges have suffered a decline in Scouting, it seems to me.  The conservation series was very much the keystone of a trek to Eagle when I was a Scout, at least as important as the citizenship series.  But I don’t see that emphasis in Scouting today, sadly.

BSA recently created a Mining merit badge, which created some quiet grumbles among conservationists — this new, Eagle-path badge more than makes up for that, I think (though mining is a great topic for Scouts, especially in the western U.S., I think).  This will not set well with the anti-conservation, anti-Agenda 21 crowd and their merry hoaxsters.  But nothing BSA does is removed from political criticism from the right any more (see this odd photo choice for the Sustainability badge notice at the radical right-wing Daily Caller site).

This announcement gives me hope.

More:

Below the fold, the requirements and announcement from Bryan on Scouting, at Scouting Magazine’s site, verbatim and in total.

Read the rest of this entry »


Colleague’s Fulbright-Hays trip to Senegal

April 26, 2010

One of my colleagues — an art teacher; you know, the adventurous type — heads off to Senegal this summer on a Fulbright-Hays program.

I’m sorta jealous, of course.  I need time to push our history course to championship level, though — I didn’t apply for anything this summer.

You can track Mr. Adkins’ trip and progress at a blog he’s set up, appropriately called Mr. Adkins’ Great Adventure in Senegal.

If you’re teaching world history, or art, or government, or environmental science, or geography, this might be a great blog to track.

Senegal is a very interesting place.  Note on the map how it completely surrounds its neighbor nation of The Gambia.

FAA map of Senegal

Senegal, map courtesy of the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)

France held the nation as a colony once upon a time, from 1850 to independence of the Mali Federation in 1960 — one of the national languages is French, but regional languages are numerous, Wolof, Soninke, Seereer-Siin, Fula, Maninka, and Diola.  The Mali Federation was short-lived, and Senegal broke off in August of 1960.

If you listen to NPR, you’ve probably heard their reporter signing off in that distinct way she does, “Tthis is Ofeibea Quist-Arcton, for NPR, in Dah-KAHHH!”  (Not to be confused with Dacca, Pakistan).

According to the CIA Factbook (online version):

The French colonies of Senegal and the French Sudan were merged in 1959 and granted their independence as the Mali Federation in 1960. The union broke up after only a few months. Senegal joined with The Gambia to form the nominal confederation of Senegambia in 1982, but the envisaged integration of the two countries was never carried out, and the union was dissolved in 1989. The Movement of Democratic Forces in the Casamance (MFDC) has led a low-level separatist insurgency in southern Senegal since the 1980s, and several peace deals have failed to resolve the conflict. Nevertheless, Senegal remains one of the most stable democracies in Africa. Senegal was ruled by a Socialist Party for 40 years until current President Abdoulaye WADE was elected in 2000. He was reelected in February 2007, but has amended Senegal’s constitution over a dozen times to increase executive power and weaken the opposition, part of the President’s increasingly autocratic governing style. Senegal has a long history of participating in international peacekeeping and regional mediation.

The country is tropical, hot and humid.  Geographically, it is low, rolling plains.

Dakar is about as far west as one can go on the African continent.   (See the map inset — Senegal is in dark green).

Senegal has iron ores, and phosphorus (ancient bird droppings?).  It’s not a rich nation, but it’s better off than many developing countries.

Adkins is in for a great adventure, no?

Africa, showing Senegal - CIA Factbook

Africa, showing Senegal - CIA Factbook


Well, Texas! How do you like your culture war!

March 30, 2009

Historical Item:  William Randolph Hearst’s newspaper in New York favored war with Spain in 1898 — the Spanish-American War.  When the war got underway, on the top of the newspaper’s first page, in the corners (the “ears”), Hearst printed, “America!  How do you like your war!”

Creationism lost on the votes that had been planned for weeks, on issues members of the State Board of Education were informed about.  But creationists on the board proposed a series of amendments to several different curricula, and some really bad science was written in to standards for Texas school kids to learn.  Climate change got an official “tsk-tsk, ain’t happenin'” from SBOE.  And while Wilson and Penzias won a Nobel Prize for stumbling on the evidence that confirmed it, Big Bang is now theory non grata in Texas science books.   Using Board Member Barbara Cargill’s claims, Texas teachers now should teach kids that the universe is a big thing who tells big lies about her age.

Phil Plait wrote at Bad Astronomy:  “Texas:  Yup.  Doomed.”

A surefire way to tell that the changes were bad:  The Discovery Institute’s lead chickens  crow victory over secularism, science and “smart people.”  Well, no, they aren’t quite that bold.   See here, here, here and hereDisco Tute even slammed the so-conservative-Ronald-Reagan-found-it-dull Dallas Morning News for covering the news nearly accurately.  Even more snark here. Discovery Institute’s multi-million-dollar budget to buy good public relations for anti-science appears to have dropped a bundle in Austin; while it might appear that DI had more people in Austin than there are members of the Texas SBOE . . . no, wait, maybe they did.

SBOE rejected the advice of America’s best and greatest scientists.  If it was good science backed by good scientists and urged by the nation’s best educators, SBOE rejected it.  If it was a crank science idea designed to frustrate teaching science, it passed.  As the Texas Freedom Network so aptly put it, while SBOE closed the door on “strengths and weaknesses” language that favors creationism, they then opened every window in the house.

Read ’em, and tell us in comments if you find any reason for hope, or any reason the state legislature shouldn’t abolish this board altogether.  (What others should we add to the list?)



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