Creating Science Children for A Better Future

Like many (perhaps all) of my readers, I've been interested in certain things my entire life. Facts about the natural world. What things are. How things work. What will happen when you poke that with a stick? As luck would have it, I managed to turn this proclivity into my livelihood. Not bad. I also get to participate in a great human endeavor that lays down lasting improvements for our species and our planet. Nice. It would be great if this opportunity was available to all young children with similar interest would it not? Well, interest is great but children require a fertile environment in which to pursue their interests.
It was my great fortune to grow up in a science geek household. I can't offer that advantage to any but a very limited group of mini-wackaloons but I can take some small and painless steps in that direction for more children. Today I am asking you to join me Dear Readers.


Many of the ScienceBlogs bloggers, including your hosts here at DrugMonkey, will be running challenges at DonorsChoose for the month of October. We are participating in the 2008 DonorsChoose.org Blogger Challenge in support of public schools. The system is simple:

  1. Teachers Ask (for classroom project materials)
  2. You Choose (a project to bring to life)
  3. Students Learn (and thank you with letters and photos)

The ScienceBlogs leaderboard is a great place for you to start looking over projects, pre-selected by some of your favorite blogs to reduce information overload.
I would also encourage you to click over to DonorsChoose.org and start browsing projects using the search page. From here you can gate your search by your local state, region, grade level or by topic area for the project (it is not just all about science). The reason I encourage you to start here is that the current state of educational resources in the US may shock you. By this I mean that many of the things that you took for granted as a default part of your public school education are now things that teachers (and local Parent Teacher Organizations; PTO) must figure out how to fund themselves. I hope, DearReader, that even in this time of financial unheaval in the US and and elsewhere, despite your political donation budget you can shake loose a small amount of money for children you may never meet. They need our help.
I have selected a few specific projects to highlight as part of my challenge to you, DearReader. Other ScienceBloggers will highlight additional projects for your consideration. But really, the specific projects are less important than choosing something that really strikes your fancy, whether it be supporting schools in your local region, a particular grade level, disabled children or, as I did last year, lending support for introducing a whitebread sport like lacrosse in an inner city school for highly idiosyncratic reasons.
As a final note, Janet D. Stemwedel of Adventures in Ethics and Science is the ringleader and chief catherder for our participation in this endeavor. Her introductory posts from this year's challenge and from the inaugural 2006 challenge offer more information. You might want to drop her a note of appreciation as well.
One thing you will want to note from Janet's post:

DonorsChoose will send you a confirmation email. Hold onto it; our benevolent overlords at Seed will be randomly selecting some donors to receive nifty prizes. Details about the prizes and how to get entered will be posted here soon!

I will be randomly selecting donors to the DrugMonkey Blog challenge for prizes as well. So if you donate to our list and want to be in the running for DrugMonkey schwag, also forward the confirmation to drugmnky at the googly mail.

10 responses so far

  • DuWayne says:

    I so very wish I could, but it's the first and I have yet to finish paying last months rent. I just don't have it.
    OTOH, I am getting set to do a project with the kids in my son's after school program, that I have done a couple of times in our community centers. I got a bunch of materials donated by a plumbing supplier and a lumber yard that I do a fair amount of business with.
    The kids will be making instruments out of PVC drain pipes and fittings, wood and an assortment of other materials. Each kid will take home one instrument that they make, leaving another for use at school. They will make wind instruments, strings and percussion.
    When I have done this in the past, we used some worksheets I found at the library and slides, to discuss how sounds are created and why we hear them. This time (and available for future community center projects like it) I have gotten the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry to commit to sending over some of their sound measuring devices. We have had a great deal of fun with this before and even better, most of the kids seem to actually learn something from it. A seven year old neighbor was involved with the one I did this past summer and her teacher sent me a note home, thanking me for having done the project over the summer (also why I was invited to do it at the school) - apparently Jania brought her horn into class and did a bang up job of explaining how the sound waves are created by the horn and how they are then "heard" by the ear.
    Momma was already slated to do a project with the same program, teaching kids how paints are made - including how they were made historically. They will get to make their own basic pigments from plants and then mix them into a tempura base. Only peripherally science oriented, to be sure, but there it is.
    I am working up plans for some electrical projects as well. I have the great fortune to have contacts with a lot of different construction suppliers and they have generally been really awesome for making material donations to projects in the past. The only major restriction now, is that copper has gotten insanely expensive.

  • Becca says:

    I was gonna use the "poor grad student on a stipend" cop-out... then I read what qualified as "low income"... then I thought about supporting a family of four on my current income... and got out my wallet.
    I wanna send the kids that need some prepared slides some of my plasmodium ones. The teacher says they're gonna learn about plants, animals, fungi and bacteria... no protistia? Tragic!!!

  • DrugMonkey says:

    OMG Becca. I was actually going to include a line about my poor starving grad student readers not feeling obligated. You've humbled me with your generosity. Thank you.
    (and thanks for your other kind thoughts!)
    DuWayne, what you do is so far beyond any donation. Thanks for contributing your effort to the children of your community!

  • Dude, something is wrong with your title. "Science Children" just doesn't sound right.

  • neurolover says:

    OK, I think I've done it (I had a donors choose "gift certificate" for $95 left over, and told them to direct it to the less expensive microscope challenge).
    And, I gave to the microscopes, 'cause Becca did :-). Not a fan of microscopes myself (actually, I hate them). But, I thought I should try to fund the same thing the poor starving grad student had chosen.
    DM I hope you're not aiming too high -- cause the teacher doesn't get the money until the project is fully funded. So, I think it's worth considering it even if you're a poor graduate student (assuming you're not actually starving. I don't want to encourage any starving people to donate). If you have 10 bucks to spare?
    Actually -- post here. If you're a grad student, and you donate, I'll match you until I've used my $200 budget. You'll have to take my word for it, since I'll be anonymous. But, I'm pretty trustworthy.
    (And, yeah, DM, I wondering about whether you were talking about using science to create children -- like in designer babies :-).

  • DrugMonkey says:

    I am hoping that I am not aiming too high as well. Janet indicated the totals from last year and I kinda shot for the zone where blogs that have similar traffic to ours landed. Keep in mind as well that these particular projects were not proposed because of us, they can be funded through anyone who visits DonorsChoose...

  • My dearest DrugMonkey,
    Please see my appeal to my readers here.
    Best Regards,
    Isis

  • Academic says:

    Happy project funding! I found a lot of really sweet projects that warrant support. And hey, October's a good month because you're not traveling for Thanksgiving yet, and there's time to rebuild for Christmas.

  • leigh says:

    ha, but we starving grad students have plenty of tricks up our sleeves. i just blogged about one.
    what a great cause. unfortunately, october has that whole breast cancer theme and i just donated my last dollars to a friend who is walking for the cure in DC this week.
    if i can possibly make it without the caffeine next week, though...

  • Becca says:

    Awww. I'm simultaneously proud and embarassed...
    I'm nothing but pleased to think of the microscopes catching on though!
    Full disclosure: I'm not actually starving. While I have been known to eat Ramen, it is more due to lack of time than lack of funds.
    Fortunately, weird-o smallish town where I live is comparably cheap to live in; these are not my heroic years (a million brownie points to anyone who catches that reference).
    Not only that, but Dr. Isis, in her benevolence, has made me swear off the Ramen and assured me that following the epic battle of the Domestic Deities freezable grad-student friendly recipes will ensue.
    I am feeling the ripple effects of TeaParty energy here.

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