Articles tagged with Neil deGrasse Tyson

Q and A with astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, featured speaker at NSBA’s annual conference in April

Neil deGrasse Tyson isn’t going to tell you how to run your schools, or even how to teach science. The astrophysicist and director of the Hayden Planetarium in New York City says school board members probably have a better handle on these things.

“I’m just sort of a STEM person at large,” said Tyson, former host of “NOVA scienceNOW” and one of the keynote speakers at NSBA’s Annual Conference in San Diego in April. “It’s a report from the field, a report from the depths of our society and culture.”

It’s a society and culture, says Tyson — a frequent guest on television talk shows like “The Daily Show” and “Real Time with Bill Maher” — that needs to pay more attention to what’s going on in the worlds of astronomers and microbiologists. He talked recently with ASBJ Senior Editor Lawrence Hardy.

Are we as scientifically literate as we should be?

No. The nation is becoming profoundly absent of scientific literacy. Now I don’t want a law saying someone has to be scientifically literate. I want people to want to be scientifically literate because they feel empowered by it, enlightened by it, and it’s something that will stimulate a curiosity in them that they once had, or never knew they had, in their youth.

So we don’t know much about evolution or the asteroid belt.

It’s the combination of being a scientifically illiterate person and gaining cultural or political power. That’s a combustible combination because then you end up making decisions that affect countless other people based on ideas and thoughts that are missing the fundamentals of how the natural world works.

A few years ago your planetarium declared Pluto “not a planet,” thus upsetting the cosmological certainty of countless elementary school students. Were there repercussions?

Essentially, a file drawer of hate mail from third-graders. One of my favorite letters is, “Dear Scientest” (spelled T-E-S-T). “Why did you make Pluto not a planet anymore? It that’s people’s favorite planet, then they’ll no longer have a favorite planet. And if there’s people on Pluto, then they’ll no longer exist.” [People] thought we just got rid of Pluto.

And the media reacted?

Oh, my gosh. The subtlety of the argument didn’t make it into the headlines. In fact, the New York Times reported on it, [writing] “Pluto not a Planet? Only in New York.” That was the headline on Page One. I wrote a whole book on this. It came out in 2007. It’s called The Pluto Files: The Rise and Fall of America’s Favorite Planet.

I hear you also messed with America’s Favorite Movie (at least among teenage girls in the 1990s). Something about the night sky being wrong in Titanic?

I complained publicly only because so much of the marketing platform of that film was on how accurate it was. If authenticity is important to you, you should have gotten the sky right.

You said director James Cameron was annoyed but eventually reconsidered and, for the release of the IMAX 3-D version, changed the sky in a key scene to the way it would have looked that night in the North Atlantic.

The most important scene is the sky straight above Kate Winslet’s head when she’s singing deliriously, floating on that plank. So I gave him that sky. In fact, I gave him a little latitude because the exact overhead sky wasn’t as good as the one a little to the left. You can fudge that and say she wasn’t looking exactly overhead, but was looking at an angle. You want to give people artistic space to work with.

And they used it.

Lawrence Hardy|February 5th, 2013|Categories: NSBA Annual Conference 2013, NSBA Publications, STEM Education|Tags: , , , |

Annual Conference early registration discounts end Jan. 10–see you in San Diego!

January 10 is the last day to receive early registration discounts for NSBA’s 73rd Annual Conference, to be held April 13-15 in San Diego. Join thousands of school board members, school administrators, vendors and other school leaders at this premier event. The General Sessions boast three superstars who will discuss their work in education:

Academy Award-winning actress Geena Davis, founder of the non-profit Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, will speak at the opening General Session on April 13. The star of “A League of Their Own,” “Thelma and Louise,” and “The Accidental Tourist” now works with film and television creators to reduce gender stereotyping and increase the number of female characters in media targeted for young children. Davis will speak about the key role media plays in children’s development.

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson is one of the world’s most engaging and passionate science advocates. From PBS to NASA to Presidential Commissions, organizations have depended on Tyson’s down-to-earth approach to astrophysics. Last year, Tyson notoriously persuaded director James Cameron to change a scene in the 3D version of his legendary film, Titanic. Turns out the night sky in the heartbreaking scene where the main characters meet their fates in the frigid sea had a totally wrong starfield. (Get a sneak peek of Tyson’s expertise and entertaining style in this YouTube video where he explains the mistake.

Researcher Diane Ravitch, one of the most passionate and knowledgeable advocates for public education, will share her expertise on past and present education issues. Her most recent book, The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education, makes the case that public education today is in peril and offers a clear prescription for improving public schools. Attendees who scored a seat to see Ravitch speak at NSBA’s 2010 Annual Conference were thrilled with her lecture.

In addition to the General Sessions, more than 200 topical sessions are scheduled on issues such as: Common Core State Standards, budgeting in tight economic times, new technologies, school climate and safety, and many others. Go to the annual conference website to view the full schedule of general session speakers, Focus on lectures, more than 200 topical sessions, and preconference workshops.

Joetta Sack-Min|January 10th, 2013|Categories: Announcements, Conferences and Events, Educational Technology, NSBA Annual Conference 2013, Technology Leadership Network|Tags: , , , |

NSBA’s 2013 Annual Conference to feature Geena Davis, Neil deGrasse Tyson, and Diane Ravitch

Registration and housing for the National School Boards Association’s (NSBA) 73rd Annual Conference, to be held April 13 to 15 in San Diego, is now open. Join more than 5,000 school board members and administrators for an event with hundreds of sessions, workshops, and exhibits that will help your school district programs and help you hone your leadership and management skills.

General Session speakers include Academy Award winning speaker Geena Davis, who will be speaking about her work off-screen as founder of the non-profit Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media. Davis works with film and television creators to reduce gender stereotyping and increase the number of female characters in media targeted for children 11 and under. She will explain how media plays a key role in children’s development, and how her organization is making a difference.

Television star Neil deGrasse Tyson, one of the world’s most engaging and passionate science advocates, will headline Sunday’s General Session. From PBS to NASA to Presidential Commissions, organizations have depended on Tyson’s down-to-earth approach to astrophysics. He has been a frequent guest on “The Daily Show”, “The Colbert Report”, R”eal Time with Bill Maher”, and “Jeopardy!”. Tyson hopes to reach “all the people who never knew how much they’d love learning about space and science.”

Monday’s General Session features acclaimed researcher and author Diane Ravitch, who has become one of the most passionate voices for public schools. Her most recent book, The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education, makes the case that public education today is in peril and offers a clear prescription for improving public schools.

Learn more about the common core standards, new research on differentiated learning styles, and teaching “unteachable” children at the Focus On lecture series. Learn about new technologies for your classrooms as part of the Technology + Learning programs.

Special discounted rates are available for early registrants who sign up by Jan. 10, 2013. NSBA National Affiliate and Technology Leadership Network Districts save even more.

View the conference brochure for more details. Be sure to check the Annual Conference website for updates and more information.

 

 

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