Educational Institutions


Oakland, CA


NCSE defends the integrity of science education against ideological interference. We work with teachers, parents, scientists, and concerned citizens at the local, state, and national levels to ensure that topics including evolution and climate change are taught accurately, honestly, and confidently.

Ruling Year


Executive Director

Ms. Ann Reid

Deputy Director

Mr. Glenn Branch

Main Address

1904 Franklin Street Suite #600

Oakland, CA 94612 USA


Science, Climate Change, Evolution, Education





Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Alliance/Advocacy Organizations (B01)

Alliance/Advocacy Organizations (W01)

Community Service Clubs (Kiwanis, Lions, Jaycees, etc.) (S80)

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Defending science education

Science Booster Clubs

Teacher Support

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All too often, when it comes to evolution and climate change, students are not taught the straightforward evidence that evolution is the central organizing concept of the field of biology, or that human activities are affecting our climate.

In 13% of U.S. public high school biology classes, students are taught creationism-- a religious explanation of biological diversity--not evolution. In another 59% of biology classes, evolution is not taught at all, or it is taught alongside creationism as if they are equally scientifically valid explanations of biological diversity.

With respect to climate change, in 10% of U.S. middle and high school science classes, students are taught that human activity is not affecting Earth's climate. In another 33% of science classrooms, students are given the confusing and inaccurate message that scientists are divided about whether human or natural causes are responsible for climate change.

The problem is that some scientific conclusions contradict or threaten deeply held religious, political, or economic values. In the case of evolution, certain Christian denominations have claimed for nearly one hundred years that evolution is inconsistent with belief in God. The recognition that human burning of fossil fuels is causing serious climate change that will require immediate and concerted action to thwart, is threatening to major industrial and political interests, resulting in extensive efforts to discredit and cast doubt on the overwhelming scientific evidence.

When scientific topics become polarized and politicized, teachers are vulnerable to the same misrepresentations as everyone else. Many science teachers have themselves not received sound instruction on these topics, and even those who have may be reluctant to teach topics that they know to be socially controversial.

Our vision is for every science teacher to teach evolution and climate change accurately and confidently. Teachers need to know how to handle the misconceptions and even hostility that students, parents, and community members may have about climate change and evolution. NCSE has three decades of experience helping teachers to get these concerns out of the way so that the science may be taught.

We want every teacher to respond effectively when societal controversy surrounding evolution and climate change emerges in their classrooms. Confidence comes directly from training in how to handle questions and doubts, and indirectly in knowing that their administrators and communities will have their backs when they teach these scientific topics forthrightly.

In the long run, we want to see a change in classroom practices so that far fewer teachers present evolution and climate change as scientifically controversial and a greater percentage report teaching evolution and climate change in accordance with science standards and the recommendations of reputable scientific organizations such as the National Academy of Sciences.

As we have done for thirty years, NCSE continues to help local citizens oppose anti-science legislation, identify and block efforts to teach creationism or climate change denial in their local schools, and support the adoption of accurate science standards and textbooks.

Our national teacher network, NCSEteach, and its flagship program, Scientist in the Classroom, are squarely aimed at those “cautious" teachers who either neglect or downplay the teaching of evolution or climate change, or who teach them as scientifically “unsettled" or controversial. We seek to recruit all teachers who teach evolution or climate change into NCSEteach. In the last year, our network has grown from around 300 teachers to nearly 4,000. Once they enroll, we provide them with examples of best practices, expose them to arguments against teaching these topics as debates, and welcome them into a network of teachers who model how to teach evolution and climate change appropriately.

We are currently piloting a Scientist in the Classroom program to get early career scientists into classrooms to provide teachers with support when teaching climate change and evolution. We plan to ramp up this program from the 25 classroom pilot to over 100 classrooms in 2016. Eventually we will provide this program to every teacher in our NCSEteach network.

NCSE is also launching an initiative to help local communities form science booster clubs to support and encourage their local science teachers. By providing a model, and some basic infrastructural support, NCSE aims to make it easy for local citizens to start a science booster club to benefit the science programs at their local schools. The clubs will forge a partnership with local science teachers and help those teachers acquire the resources and support they need. Whether it is funds for supplies and field trips, or volunteer help at science fairs or other enrichment events for students. Booster clubs will also raise the profile of science in their communities.

Our first booster club, which was started in Iowa City in April of 2015, already has over 400 members, has planned and hosted two major community science events with hands-on climate change science activities, and is currently extending its first grants to local teachers. Three more booster clubs will be initiated in late 2015. This pilot program will be conducted as a formal research study, through a collaboration with the University of Iowa.

Finally, while organization like the Pew Research Center and AAAS conduct regular surveys to measure the population's understanding of science and acceptance of evolution and climate change, NCSE is unique in surveying what is actually going on in the classroom. In collaboration with the Pennsylvania State University Population Research Institute, we conduct regular surveys to gauge how evolution and climate change are being taught.

NCSE has nearly three decades of experience helping local citizens organize to block attacks on the integrity of science education and ensure that textbooks and science standards reflect established scientific understanding. We are the acknowledged expert in this specialized role and have an excellent reputation in the scientific and education communities. Our staff, though small (just 10 people), has scientific expertise in evolution and climate change, and unique expertise in how to deal with denial of established science, whether it emerges in the classroom, on school boards, or in state legislatures.

We have longstanding ties to professional scientific societies, many of which, including the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Chemical Society, are formal supporting organizations. We also work closely with science teacher associations including the National Association of Biology Teachers and the National Science Teachers Association, and climate change education organizations such as the Alliance for Climate Education (ACE).

Finally, we have over 5,000 contributing members, who not only provide financial support, but act as our local eyes, ears, and hands in communities around the country.

Through our survey program, we keep track of how evolution and climate change are being taught. If our programs are successful, we will eventually see a shift in the proportion of teachers who are presenting evolution and climate change as scientifically debatable. Information from the surveys is itself useful to us, and to others who are interested in science education.

In the short term, we look to increase membership in our teacher network, which currently includes 4,000 teachers. We also plan to extend the scientist in the classroom program - currently being piloted in 25 classrooms - to over 100 classrooms in the spring of 2016, and eventually to 1000's of classrooms nationwide.

In the next 2-3 years, we look to expand our Science Booster Club pilot into dozens of communities. The pilot program - established as a research project through the University of Iowa - has since given measurable results about what works and what doesn't. On the basis of those results, we will expand the program in 2017.

In the winter of 2016, we are launched a campaign to recruit graduate students as members of NCSE. We offered them a free one-year membership, and the opportunity to participate in the Scientist in the Classroom program. Our goal is to double our membership, and substantially reduce the average age of our members. This will give us a sound financial base, and a new group of potential activists for the cause of science education.

NCSE has successfully established itself as the pre-eminent source of advice on dealing with the impact of science denial on the classroom, especially with respect to evolution and increasingly with respect to climate change, which was added to NCSE's mandate in 2012.

In the last two years, we have developed a strategic plan and launched programs to address the problem that thousands of science teachers are reluctant to teach subjects that they perceive to be societally controversial. The NCSEteach, Scientist in the Classroom, and Science Booster Club programs are in their infancy, but already promise to help us reach and support those teachers. A major challenge for the next few years is making these programs more widely known and incorporating more teachers and clubs into our network.

Our collaboration with survey experts at the Pennsylvania State University has been fruitful in carrying out two comprehensive national surveys. We plan to repeat these surveys at regular intervals but have not yet secured a guaranteed funding source to do so.

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