Wow! Thanks to all of you readers who stepped up to give little kids in Maine a carpet to sit on, instead of a dirty, wet linoleum floor.

Now here’s a chance to help some big kids. High school students in a high poverty school in Gaffney SC need materials for dissections.

My Anatomy and Physiology students attend a high poverty school that has limited resources and monies available. They are juniors or seniors who have identified their career path to be in the health science field. Some have set goals to be lab technicians while others strive for their doctorates. All of them want to learn and are interested in the structure and function of the human body. We have an enormous amount of fun learning and utilizing the limited resources we have.

Sure, and I remember the lab demos from my science classes the best. Exploding stuff and thermogenic reactions. Inclined planes, air tables and dropping shit. From biology, the dissections. Are you any different?

Let’s try to give these kids an experience they will remember when they are at my ripe old age…

My students need dissection specimens, like 40 sheep eyes, 40 sheep hearts, 40 sheep half brains, and dissection supplies to conduct essential labs in anatomy class.

Remember, every little bit counts. Can you spare $5? Even if you gave your bit already, pass along the link. Ask your Facebook friends to donate. Twitt your Tweeps.

It’s for the next generation. Don’t you want them to know a little something when they come to re-insert your catheter at Happy Golden Acres? I know you do.

Give. Your urethra will thank you later.

One still occasionally gets whinging from some corner or other about not being able to run Analysis of Variance statistical procedures (ANOVA) because the data didn’t pass a test of normality. I.e., a test of whether they appear to fit a normal distribution.

Paper reviewers, trainees, colleagues….this can come from any corner. It betrays a grad-school class level of understanding of what statistical analysis of data is supposed to do…but not a grasp of what it is doing for us at a fundamental level within the conduct of science.

Your stock response should be “the ANOVA is robust against violations of normality, move along“.

I note that the company GraphPad, which makes the Prism statistical/curve fitting package beloved of behavioral pharmacologists, has a tidy FAQ answer.

The extract version:

A population has a distribution that may be Gaussian or not. A sample of data cannot be Gaussian or not Gaussian. That term can only apply to the entire population of values from which the data were sampled…In almost all cases, we can be sure that the data were not sampled from an ideal Gaussian distribution… an ideal Gaussian distribution includes some very low negative numbers and some superhigh positive values…When collecting data, there are constraints on the possible values…Other variables can…have physical or physiological limits that don’t allow super large values… plenty of simulations have shown that these tests work well even when the population is only approximately Gaussian…It is hard to define what “close enough” means, and the normality tests were not designed with this in mind.

You may want to follow our good blog friend @drisis today….

Best of luck to her, Mr. I, Little I and the new I…

A place for kids to sit

October 10, 2011

One of the Donor’s Choose projects that I am featuring in my challenge is for

A Place to Sit:

Have you ever had to sit on a dirty floor? This is what my students must do each day in my classroom, we don’t have a rug or carpet in my class so my students have to sit on the floor to learn. The floor has dirt from our playground and in the winter it has small puddles of water from boots.

The primary school is in Sanford ME and is a high poverty school. Looks like a nice location.

Brother or Sister…. Can you spare a dime?

Open Thred

October 7, 2011


I’m getting bored with current conversations around and about. And I’m not feeling the blog muse.

What do YOU want to talk about?

As you are aware, Dear Reader, one of my favorite times of year as a blogger is October. Because we get the chance to put on the full court press for DonorsChoose, an organization that helps teachers fund small projects in their classrooms. Projects that range from the inspirational, to the disturbingly mundane- a rug for the children to sit on?

You will note that I have selected numerous projects which feature dissection kits. This is no coincidence. Those biology labs tend to be some of the most memorable ones from our schooling, are they not? It also so happens that one of my kids had the opportunity to dissect a bazillion things in a summer camp. A camp that my spouse and I are able to afford, obviously, but I have little doubt many of the parents in the High Poverty schools I’ve selected cannot do the same. How can we not do a little bit to help out these children?

Now, on to the seerious beesnees. We do this drive as part of the ScienceBloggers for Students Challenge, in which we here at Scientopia compete against those other lame collectives like the FreeThoughters, Pirates, SciAmSellouts, LabLamers and whomever still remains at ScienceBlogs brought to you by National Geographic. Other glossy mag collectives like WIRED, Discover and CENmag have skin in the game too.

DearReader, we want to beat them. On the measure that matters most which is not the cash, not the projects funded. Oh, no. The most important bragging right is the number of donors! That’s right. What really matters here is that we get as many people as possible participating. Only have $5? Make a donation. Every little bit counts. Make a statement that you stand up for science (and health, and humanities, and…) education. You can skip a couple of lattes to make up for it….

For those of you new to this blog’s participation in Donor’s Choose, a word to the wise. Starving graduate students in the audience have been, proportionally speaking, very generous in past years. So if you are a postdoc or a prof…..yeah. Let’s get ‘er done.

Final note, even if you cannot afford to donate this year, we would appreciate your participation by bringing Donor’s Choose to the attention of some folks that may never have heard of it. Post a link on the Twitts or the Facebooks or even, meh, GoogPlus.

Do it for the children.


October 4, 2011

and another thing. Going to PubMed to find some cite to support my logic chain because I don’t have it in my reference manager database already doesn’t break the flow either.

It enhances and reinforces the thrust of the point you are contemplating, and working on making concretely in academese, because you refresh yourself on all the relevant and irrelevant titles/abstract, perhaps find a new paper or two and remember an old one. That allows you to wrap up that paragraph or page in a trice so that you can move on.

Instead of spinning your wheels writing up a bunch of sheist that you later have to “revise” because your memory of the paper(s) that you thought supported a particular point was erroneous.

Do you re-read the NIH grant proposal that you submitted in the summer a re-read as we approach the Fall rounds of study section meetings?

One would think that after getting a little distance from the writing of it, that the PI could be a little more objective. Step back and read it like a reviewer would. And therefore predict the eventual outcome with some accuracy. In theory this would make one’s anticipation of the score showing up in Commons a little more..muted.

Yeah, I don’t know anyone who can do this.

How about you, Dear Reader? Do you know anyone who looks at their proposal in the month before the study section meets and can be objective about the chances?

Final thought: Would it be useful to get the trainees to write critiques and see how they match up with the real ones?

Cite while you write

October 3, 2011

I will never, ever understand you people who “add the citations later”.

Citing is an integral part of writing for me.