Yesterday I took my son to a science fair here in our small city of Washington, PA called STEMfest. It was the first time that such an event has occurred in the city, and after talking with one of the organizers I was pretty excited that this was something I could take my 5 year old. It was your typical science fair for the most part with local tech companies, universities and private high schools doing science demos and activities for kids. For some reason the Salvation Army was there, but they seemed to be just there out of the goodness of their hearts. They had little plastic cups where they helped the kids make slime. Kids love making slime and then put it in a little ziploc bag. I noticed that they also had slightly bigger Salvation Army plastic bags which I thought was just an extra safeguard in case the slime leaked out and didn’t get the other take home stuff from the event wet with slime. However, something else was lurking in the bag.
Fast forward to this morning and my son is taking out stickers in this:
Notice the cover indicates is meant to lure kids into believing this contains scientific information. A bible resides on the science lab desk and somehow a cross appears in the atom symbol.
The pages inside don’t get any better by making their religious nonsense appear to be part of things for which we have scientific evidence.
At least they are promoting women in science right? You can see the attempt to legitimize bible verses and religious rhetoric as scientific. They have the gall to call this a Time Traveler Guide, but Day 1-5 is Creation, Old Testament, Visitation, Preparation, and Celebration. Inside is also a plastic transparency like thing where you are supposed to use a flashlight to find various scientific items, bible verses and symbols in a science lab. A page of stickers, and then finally this exercise which asks the kid to “Complete the timeline with correct daily drawing sticker”
My son was playing with stickers in the book before I saw what this was. Fortunately he can’t read yet and constructed this according to his own logic, which I think you’ll like. He says to me that “fire creates trees and then new leaves, leaves cause clouds and then rain, rain causes evil kings, and evil kinds lead to death.” We watch a lot of nature shows so he know forest fires lead to new growth and he knows trees give off a lot of moisture and creates clouds and rain in rain forests. The evil king thing though remains a mystery. 🙂 Anyway, I told his explanation makes more sense than what this is actually trying to tell you. This booklet is made by “Answers in Genesis”. Which, as many know, is a particular dishonest Christian fundamentalist organization trying to push the Bible as being literally true (except for the parts that make no sense).
I am definitely going to complain to the organizers. Despite this being a conservative county, I don’t expect they knew this was going on. Given the one organizer I had talked to prior to the event, I don’t think the organizers intended for any booth to hand out religious literature. The fact that such anti-science creationist nonsense was being snuck to kids, I’m sure (I hope) will come as a surprise.
My dad always had a soft spot for the Salvation Army as when my parents were starting out life together and didn’t have much money. Salvation Army was helpful to them and was willing to marry them, as many other Christian pastors wouldn’t as they rejected a mixed marriage. As a result I will still thrown in some money when they are asking for donations around Christmas time. No longer. The disturbing part here is how deviously the Salvation Army hid what they were handed out while sucking kids in with a fun activity, and how the booklet itself misrepresents religious claims as scientific with images meant to trick and indoctrinate children. It’s simply appalling. So be aware parents when taking your kids to a science event, you may find a wolf in a scientist’s clothing.