Barbara Cargill — TX SBOE’s “Science” teacher

Barbara Cargill

Barbara Cargill

Texas State Board of Education member Barbara Cargill posted an article at Texas yesterday (December 18), in which she argues that

… too often the tendency is to teach rote memorization of accepted facts.  Instead, teachers must encourage independent thinking.  By applying the scientific process, students will be challenged to think “outside the box” and form their own conclusions about topics like common ancestry.

And what kind of “scientific process” would Cargill advocate for challenging students to ‘think “outside the box” and form their own conclusions about topics like common ancestry’?

cargillkidsCargill explains her position in terms of her own experience teaching “science” in Texas public schools:

The debate about whether to teach evolution’s scientific strengths and weaknesses presents an incredible opportunity for good science instruction that will develop great thinkers.  Having taught biology for many years, I assure you that high school students are smart, savvy, and curious.  A sound teaching strategy is to allow them to discuss multiple aspects of controversial subjects.  For example, when evidence for universal common ancestry in the fossil record is taught (i.e. scientific strength), then the contradictory evidence showing the huge gaps of missing transitional fossils in the record must also be presented (i.e. scientific weakness).  We must educate our students — not indoctrinate them by letting them hear only one side of an issue.

As if gaps in the fossil record “contradict” the fossil evidence we have, and thus constitute a “scientific weakness” of evolution from common ancestry — or, for that matter, as if there’s even any “controversy” in biology over the fact of common ancestry, to begin with. Even Michael Behe now acknowledges that

Despite some remaining puzzles,[*] there’s no  reason to doubt that Darwin had this point right, that all  creatures on earth are biological relatives.  … Common descent is true …

Michael J. Behe (2008) The Edge of Evolution: The Search for the Limits of Darwinism. p. 72 [*footnote omitted].

While Cargill is no longer teaching in the public schools, the bio page on her own website as a Board member tells us:

Barbara also works closely with science teachers through in-services and consulting work. She volunteers to deliver the Science Camp discovery boxes to many local teachers. In area schools she leads various Science Outreach Programs, usually with her 50+ critters! Birthday parties, Family Science Nights, and other science programs keep Barbara busy year round. It is estimated that in 2003 alone she has worked with over 3,000 children through her science teaching programs and “WOW! Science Camp” program.

A visit to the “WOW! Science Camp” website makes it clear, first of all, that this really is Barbara Cargill’s program:


Next, we click the Navigation link for the JUST FOR KIDS! page. There, the top item we find is a link to .


A “Great Story,” indeed! While the Watchmaker “dynamation” is, I suppose, somebody’s idea of an argument for “scientific weaknesses” of evolution, kids4truth also offers a more straightforward dynamation of the seven days of God’s creation . I suppose this one is for church and home. It’s the Watchmaker dynamation (or perhaps an edited version) that would be used to “challenge” kids in Texas science classrooms to “think outside the box.”



  1. Posted December 19, 2008 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    Good work, Tony!

  2. Posted December 20, 2008 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    Nice work, Tony. I have commented on Ms. Cargill’s recent article myself at my own blog.

  3. Posted December 20, 2008 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

    Good entry, Dr. Whitson.

    It makes me reflect on how easily persuaded can be the child’s mind, as witnessed by all the rush to to produce “cute” little Christian instructional videos for them (like the dynamation and veggie tales). I don’t think, though, that I’ve ever seen a “cute” little animation geared at five year olds to inculcate their mind with the idea of evolution. (Where’s our veggie tales?!)

    That, in turn, makes me remember the possible evolutionary explanation given by Dawkins and others as to why children tend to believe what they are told; as we humans have such long childhoods, it is to our evolutionary advantage to learn quickly, and the best way to do that is to trust our care-givers and what they say.

    This is why I feel sorry for any child whose parents would send them to a campt like that of Miss Cargill or Ken Ham.

  4. Posted December 22, 2008 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    Hey Tony, did you note the #2 requirement of an assistant teacher at one of these “science” camps? “Support WOW!’s philosophy of teaching science from a Christian perspective.” (

    Also, parents are not allowed to stick around to see what’s going on or to find out what their children are being taught in the guise of science. May parents stay in the classroom?

    Interesting site you found, Tony. Thanks!

  5. Posted December 22, 2008 at 11:23 am | Permalink

    Thanks, Cheryl,

    I hadn’t looked that far into the site.

    Looking down the FAQ page with the “May parents stay in the classroom” question, I see this also:

    How are campers supervised?
    Campers are supervised at all times and are escorted on restroom breaks by WOW! Science Camp staff.

    Now that inspires a world of trust, doesn’t it?

6 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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  3. […] Citizens for Science, will be in a mini-debate with Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) member Barbara Cargill at 8:20 a.m. tomorrow [Texas time; that’s 9:20 in New York and 6:20 in California] (Jan 21, 2009) […]

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  5. […] Cargill wants science teaches to be required by the standards to teach the “strengths and weaknesses” of Darwin’s theory of “the beginning of the universe” (like she used to do, apparently, and may still be doing in her “Science” camp. […]

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