UPDATE: All six project fully funded as of Nov 25. Thanks everyone!

I am not surprised but I am disappointed. The grand jury convened to consider the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, by Darrin Wilson has decided there are no grounds for a trial.

There is one tiny, but undeniably tangible, thing that I can do to register my feelings from afar.

Searching by Zip Code 63135 at Donors Choose I found quite a few hits on project proposals from the teachers of Ferguson.

I invite you to join me in donating to help the school children of Ferguson further their education.

Mrs. Hicks’ third grade classroom at Ferguson Central Elementary needs a rug for children to sit on for circle time. A rug.

Mr. Eye has to teach children at Ferguson Middle school in two classrooms at once.

Now my students in my second room have to cram around the doorway or in the other room and watch my instruction and then go back and try to remember how it was done unlike the students who can see the board form their seats and can follow along with instruction as I go through group activities. I utilize this method of instruction 50% of the time as the other 50% is project based. My students who are in a separate room because of space problems are at a disadvantage and have less time to work as they have to ask questions multiple times because they can not follow along as I give instruction, tips, and address concerns.

Mr Eye is asking for a little technological upgrading to help the poor unfortunate kids trying to learn in these circumstances. It’s the US in 2014 people.

Ms. Milliano’s Books project at Walnut Grove Elementary School is one that will knock you down with its topicality.

The students in our school come from low socioeconomic households, usually headed by single mothers. Many of our students are not exposed to matter and events on a national or global level. Most of the students in our building have little contact with kids their age beyond those in our school district.

We would use these news magazines to increase awareness of global and national current events, and promote discussion on how such events impact them. We will use the math series to demonstrate the importance and use of math in everyday life. Most importantly we will use the magazines to show the lives and accomplishments of people of their own age.

Update: ONWARD!

Mrs. Randoll’s students at Walnut Grove Elementary School need help learning math.

I am so excited about these number and shape manipulatives because they are items my students can, and will, use each day. My students will use these during Math Work Stations to build math skills such as: number identification, rote counting, number fluency, and sorting.

Mrs. Linder’s Technology project at Airport Elementary School in Berkeley, MO is devoted to children with significant challenges in addition to underfunded school systems and general socio-economic disparity.

I work with students with Individualized Eduction Plans with a variety of diagnoses including Autism, Intellectual Disability, ADHD, and many others. We work on skills to be successful in the school setting such as handwriting, cutting, feeding, and self care skills. These students are multi-sensory learners who benefit from repetition and learning in a variety of ways.

…and just like the circle time rug, I’m tearing up again. Help if you can.

The cello has the most beautiful sound of all the strings. Mrs. Burke’s music program at Berkeley Middle School could use a rack to secure the instruments. And dare she ask? A new upright bass?

Our school in the Ferguson-Florissant School District serves mostly students who are below the poverty line. They rarely have their own instruments. Young musicians use district instruments, some of which have been in the district since the 80’s. They rent them for $25.00/year. Some continue to rent instruments for the 10 years that they are in the orchestra program. This is difficult for many of our parents.

A big thanks to all of you who have donated to DonorsChoose in recent days. As a reminder, DonorsChoose has come up with a $25,000 matching fund to double the donations of all of you who read the Scientopia blogs!

This promotion will expires at midnight Hawaii time Friday, June 7 (6am eastern June 8) and is good for up to $100 per donor for a total of $25,000 in matching funds. This is a great time to pat a teacher on the back after a long school year and let them know that people out there value their work and value their students as much as they do. Not to mention get them all set to hit the ground running in the Fall.

So click on over to the Scientopia blogs’ DonorsChoose Giving page and see if there is any project that catches your eye. If not, just use the project browser on the sidebar to find a classroom or project that gains your sympathy. There is no need to stick to the giving page suggestions. Maybe you have a certain topic that is dear to your heart? Perhaps there is a geographical location that you want to support in some way? Browse around, there are many very needy projects.

Then, when you are in the payment checkout page, enter SCIENTOPIA in the “match or gift code” field. See here for screenshot.

I urge you, even if you can’t donate at the moment, to post a link on your Tweeterers, Facebooks and what not. I find my friends and family who have never heard of DonorsChoose before to be grateful to be made aware of this place for their charitable giving.

Many of you responded enthusiastically to the DonorsChoose science bloggers drives that we’ve been running in the fall, just after the start of the school year. For those who donated, my thanks and respect.

Now DonorsChoose has come up with a $25,000 matching fund for you, Dear Readers, all of you who read the Scientopia blogs!

So click on over to the end of the year Scientopia blogs’ DonorsChoose Giving page and see if there is any project that catches your eye.

If not, just use the project browser on the sidebar to find a classroom or project that gains your sympathy. There is no need to stick to the giving page suggestions. Maybe you have a certain topic that is dear to your heart? Perhaps there is a geographical location that you want to support in some way? Browse around, there are many very needy projects.

Then, when you are in the payment checkout page, enter SCIENTOPIA in the “match or gift code” field. See here for screenshot. This promotion will be valid now through June 7 (it expires at midnight Hawaii time Friday, June 7; 6am eastern June 8) and is good for up to $100 per donor for a total of $25,000 in matching funds.

Hoppity Hop Hop!

November 9, 2012

Only one day (today) left to donate through my challenge page in the Science bloggers for students drive to a classroom project at DonorsChoose Folks.

How about a nice frog project?

Do you remember the first time you participated in a dissection in your science class? Well, my students have not had that experience yet but I would like to change that for them.
I have great students! Our school is a Title 1 school and most of our students come from a high poverty area in South Carolina. They absolutely love the idea of having the opportunity to dissect a frog and learn more about animal anatomy. They are VERY bright students and are eager to learn.

Maybe a little gene wrangling?

I have conducted this laboratory activity in the last two years of AP Biology, and most students cite it as THE reason they choose to study science or continue education and training in biotechnology. This lab turns students into scientists–it allows them to take samples of their own DNA, use a technique called PCR to make billions of copies of identical DNA, and then analyze their own genes to determine their genotype for a specific trait.

Every little bit counts. And if you enter the matching code SCIENCE, your donation up to $100 will be doubled.

Thanks again to all who have donated to the Scientopia and other blog challenges.

First, my thanks to those of you who have found the time, generosity and money to donate to classrooms that are in need. Not just for my challenge

…but all of you donating through Scientopia blog challenges or other Science Bloggers for Students efforts.

There is some news as we near the end of the challenge period, originally planned to end 11/6. From DonorsChoose honchos:

Due to the massive power outages on the eastern seaboard this week, we are going to extend the Science Bloggers for Students campaign through next Friday, November 9. The SCIENCE match code will also be extended.

Oh yeah. So you have another week to throw down a little scratch. Also, remember to enter SCIENCE in the “Match or gift code” box when you are checking out with your payment information for your donation. There is a match in effect up to a $100 donation so you get to leverage your contribution. Pretty cool.

Teacher Ms. S. has requested support for her science class to learn basic vertebrate biology with the time honored dissection lab.

This grant will provide our science classroom with the equipment necessary to complete two laboratory dissections with 100 students. After an in depth study of the circulatory system and the chambers and structures of the heart, we will dissect a sheep heart. I selected a sheep heart since they are almost identical in size and structure as a human heart. We will continue with our anatomical studies of the other human organ systems, including the respiratory, digestive, excretory, reproductive, muscular, and skeletal systems. As a final culminating project, we will dissect a large bullfrog to develop a much deeper understanding of how the organs work together in the human body.

The REALM Charter school in Oakland California has an admirable goal

The mission of Realm Charter School is to cultivate resiliency, develop critical thinking skills, advance knowledge through rigorous studies, and equip students to serve our communities and the world in the 21st century. Realm Charter School will serve diverse urban students in grades 6-12 using a student-centered model that features project-based learning, an emphasis on technology, research and action on concerns in the community and activities that develop emotional resiliency.

and is described further by Ms. S.:

The REALM Charter School student body consists of 80% students of color living in Richmond, Berkeley, and Oakland. Approximately 60% of our students are Latino, and the remaining 40% are African American, Asian and White. We are a project based design school. We teach students to tackle problems and seek solutions through creative ingenuity.

As my longer term readers know, I’ve had my eye out for the dissection projects for a few years now because I think they are some of the most memorable primary and secondary school experiences when it comes to scientific education. This has been recently reinforced because one of my children was afforded the ability to do several dissections in a summer program that my spouse and I could happen to afford. Not every child in America is so lucky, as you well know, and this is a High Poverty school.

This is not a cheap project, the remaining balance sits at $1,089 as of this writing. This makes it a steep hill to climb, but I think we have a shot at making it a reality. So please, if you can, donate. Even just a little bit, $5 or $10, chips away at the total and creates momentum.

If you cannot, please consider forwarding the link on your Twitter, on your Facebook and even by email to your friends and families.

I am already humbled by the generosity of the Readers of the DM blog and of the Scientopia Collective. Thanks to everyone who has already pitched in.

Donor's Choose Time!!!

October 22, 2012

Yes, folks, it is that time of year. You get to open up your wallets, even $5 helps people, to help little kids’ school classrooms. It is no secret that public education has been enduring a long downward slide in the ranks of things that are important to voters/taxpayers in the US. But you probably didn’t know just how bad it has gotten. Peruse these projects, see the things that you remember as having been the expected value (like dissection in 10th grade Biology) and wonder that this is no longer the case.

Then give. The kids will benefit.

Do you like arbitrary targets? The overall blogger drive is sitting at $49,620 as of this writing.

Can we make it an even $50,000?

The final hours are upon us….. you know what to do!

Technically we have until tomorrow but I know my audience dries up on the weekend. So let’s overview.

Your new donations will be matched by the DonorsChoose Board of Directors, as detailed by Janet. So no time like the present to drop your pennies in the bucket. This particular match will be applied by means of a gift code assigned to you after the conclusion of the drive so pay attention in the coming weeks to emails from DonorsChoose and spend out the matching funds.

Now, if you are a success oriented person, there’s a project in a high poverty school in Hickory, NC, for a plant and insect habitat that has a mere $26 to go. One person has a chance to have a little dopamine rush of satisfaction today.

Doc Becca and Odyssey tag teamed the Baltimore project to put copies of Skloot’s Henrietta Lacks book into the hands of school kids. Great job folks! If you saw their Tweets and posts too late, no problemo! Jump into some other project selected by either Doc Becca or Odyssey.

If, like me, you’d been wondering where the hellz PZ and the Pharynguloid horde were this year, no worries. The Freethought Blogs leaderboard now has his drive properly linked. Phew, you readers of science blogs, free thinkers and the like have passed last year’s drive. I thank you all.

Ok, back to the real purpose here…the self-aggrandizement of the DM blog readership! Still a lot of projects on my list that could use some help if you feel able to donate. Every $5 or $10 counts people (and I will note that Doc Becca’s readers have put on a very strong push to catch the DM Blog readers in the all-important number-of-contributors stat. ahem.). Success breeds success in this philanthropy- push a project closer to the finish line and the next person is a tad bit more motivated to donate. Contributions speed up the closer a project gets to completion. So even if you can only take a bite out of the amount remaining, do so. It all counts.

Thanks to all my Readers who have already contributed to Donors Choose this year under my challenge, those of other Scientopians or those of blogs affiliated elsewhere. At present, $24,796 has been contributed by 364 readers of science-related and freethinking blogs. This is fantastic.

We can, however, do more. My blog has only a medium sized audience and I know there are thousands of readers over the course of a couple of weeks.

If you have not contributed yet because you were waiting for a paycheck or have been working on a grant or manuscript, I have another one that caught my eye for your consideration.

A teacher in a high poverty school in San Diego CA explains:

We have two classes of third graders and 1 class each of fourth and fifth graders that include GATE, Special Education and regular ed students. I will be sharing many of these materials with all of our third, fourth and fifth graders. Our school has a 76% free and reduced student population. Many of our students spend 8-10 hours at school each day due to childcare issues.

We are a small public school in a large urban school district in California. With all of the cutbacks in our state, all of our budgets for extension activities have been cut to almost nothing. Without assistance from grants, etc. our students will not be able to experience educational and fun activities like these.

She had me at “GATE”, which stands for “Gifted and Talented Education“. It may be elitist of me, but so be it. The available demographic IQ stats that are available suggest that post-graduate students are on average at least a standard deviation above the mean. We all know that “smarts” are highly valued in our business. We have the sneaking suspicion that very smart people are disproportionally drawn to science careers.

My researches (ok, a few minutes with Google, sue me) suggests that while Gifted students are identified in public education around the US, they are not always well served. Why should they be? They can meet the minimum standards and public education is not so much interested in making sure everyone reaches their potential, just that they meet minimum competency. Middle and upper middle class parents with a smart kid have some options, typically. I may have mentioned that my own children are given numerous extra-curricular educational opportunities because my spouse and I can afford it. Many of your children have, do or will enjoy a similar benefit. Can we not spare $10 or $25 to help some kids who do not have parents who can afford science camps?

My Project: Our 3rd, 4th and 5th graders need live animals to observe (i.e., ladybugs and praying mantis), as well as preserved specimens to dissect (i.e., crayfish, earthworms, starfish.) With this project, we will be able to ensure that our students are able to take part in activities that are meaningful, as well as educational and FUN! This will help me to expose our 3rd, 4th and 5th graders to experiences that they will not be exposed to outside of our classrooms.

It is ever so slightly unusual that this project will impact three grade levels instead of a single classroom. That’s kind of neat. As the teacher states, this is not solely for GATE kids but rather for the general classrooms that happen to include the Gifted children along with the general population and even some Special Ed kids. A nice broad impact for the low, low price of $492 to complete the project.

Won’t you take a moment to donate?

Donor's Choose update

October 17, 2011

A few thoughts

First, check out the completed projects page for my challenge. The generous contributions of the readers of this blog have contributed to the funding of three projects already! thanks, and be sure to read the notes from the teachers.

Twenty one of you have thrown down over $1,500 under my challenge. This, my friends, is one of the best things of all about this community you have built around my random blathering. I am humbled. (You know, for once anyway….)

Janet, aka, she who has been the driving force behind science-blogger drives for Donor’s Choose for six years now, has a post up riffing on the I am the 99% idea. Go check it out and feel free to make your own picture. Post it on your blog, Twitt it or send it to her (or to me and I’ll post ’em here). Or heck, just type out your reasons in the comments.

At this writing the Scientopia readership has pulled our challenge board into a precarious second place (ahead of a Phil Plait driven Discover Blogs challengeboard) in the number of people contributing. My readers know that I just love this measure. The more of you that donate, with whatever small amount you can afford, the better I like it. This is about community engagement.

Overall, the Science Bloggers for Students 2011 drive has generated $18,617 from 287 contributors. Wow. Keep it rolling folks. We have until October 22.

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.

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?

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.

This year’s edition of the science blogosphere’s drive to raise money to support classroom projects with Donors Choose has ended. However, if you were a donor this year, we need you to do one more thing. HP has donated matching funds which will be translated into a gift-code sent to the email address you used to originally register.
To expend these funds, you need to check the value on the gift-code and then go to Donors Choose and donate this value to one or more remaining projects.
Please consider these fine remaining challenges from the DrugMonkey blog giving page.

A project for High School frog dissection requires only $278, we could reach the finish line on this one easily with the matching funds from those of you that already gave to the DM challenge.
A middle school pig dissection project is also probably within reach at $478 remaining.
Thanks for participating this year, donors!