Adventures in Ethics and Science

By now you’ve probably seen the news that Seed has kicked in $15,000 to fund projects in our Blogger Challenge slates. We are, as always, thrilled at our Overlords’ generosity.

This year, though, rather than applying the money at the end of the drive, we have a situation where each blog with an active challenge has been given control of a $715 giving credit at DonorsChoose. In other words, we get to decide how to use this windfall to help fund classroom projects … and to get more readers involved in funding them.

So I’m going to see if I can get some audience participation from you on where to direct these funds.

There are currently four proposals in my challenge that still need funding:

  • One of These Students May Help Find a Cure for Cancer.

    Ms. P teaches chemistry to 10th, 11th, and 12th graders in a high poverty, inner city high school in New York City. Her highly motivated students have been doing their hands-on laboratories in groups of 6 to 8 because there just aren’t enough lab supplies.

    Ms. P. is looking for funds to buy 4 electronic balances, 12 additional pairs of goggles (so everyone can be safe!), chemical storage jars so each student group can have their own set of chemicals during lab, and a set of 12 150-mL beakers — enough supplies that the lab groups will only need to have 2 or 3 students each, and all the students will have a chance to really participate and see what’s going on.

    The total project costs $703, but only $288 is still needed to fully fund it.

  • Please Bug Me!
    Mrs. Y. teaches kindergarten in a high poverty school in Philadelphia, and is trying to cope with the decline in the science program she’s seen in her 12 years of teaching. She really wants to spark her students’ interest in science (and in learning more generally) by bringing insect specimens into the classroom for her students to observe.

    She’s requesting the funds to buy the specimen kits that would let her bring these captivating critters into the classroom.

    The total project costs $576, but only $351 is still needed to fully fund it.

  • Turning Up the Heat in Science
    Mrs. B. teaches chemistry to 10th and 11th graders at a moderate poverty high school in Arizona where chemistry is a relatively new course. The students are taking these chemistry classes as a gateway to college, but the school doesn’t have a lot of the necessary equipment for the lab experiments that will make chemistry come alive for them.

    Mrs. B. wants to buy two adjustable hotplates for these labs. You need to put in heat to make some really interesting chemical reactions go, after all.

    The project needs $632 to become a reality.

  • Problems in “Chemistry Math”
    Ms. B. teaches chemistry to 11th and 12th graders at a moderate poverty high school in coastal South Carolina. Her ambition (which makes me love her) is to help shift her students’ perceptions of chemistry from “hard course” to “easy course” — not by watering down the content, but by helping the students strengthen their math and logical reasoning skills and put them to work in solving chemistry problems.

    Ms. B. has found a video series that breaks down “chemistry math” into specific areas that different students may have difficulty grasping. It’s a large set of DVDs, but it’s the kind of resource that students will be able to use year after year.

    The project needs $1,562 to become a reality.

Between now and midnight on Monday October 27, I’m asking you to vote on a project.

Vote by clicking on the link to the project of your choice and giving as little as $5. (If you want to give more than that, please feel free.)

Whichever of these projects gets the most votes (i.e., the most people who have donated at least $5 to it through my challenge) will win the Seed matching funds. In the case that the project is fully funded before all $715 is applied, I’ll apply the leftover funds to the first runner up (and then the second runner up, etc.) until the money is all spent.

There is no penalty, in this election, for voting more than once.

(Don’t forget that your vote qualifies you to participate in Seed’s prize drawing and may — depending on the size of your donation — qualify you for a thank-you gift from me. This is true no matter which of these four projects gets your vote — I’m certainly not trying to rig this election!)


  1. #1 ScienceWoman
    October 24, 2008

    Great idea, but coming from you it sounds like a ploy to get that tattoo you want.

  2. #2 Academic
    October 24, 2008

    Sniff sniff sniff, I want to vote, but I’m all funds out at the moment.

    Yay for benevolent overloads at Seed!

  3. #3 Janet D. Stemwedel
    October 24, 2008

    I’m not convinced I want the tattoo(s), seeing as how the first one hurt like a muppethugger. But I want to show my commitment to the cause! (Also, in the event that the donations get into tattoo-territory — and people aren’t all siding with my mom — I will donate an amount equal to the cost of the tattoo(s) to DonorsChoose. If my mom’s side carries the day, I’ll just donate what the tattoo(s) *would* have cost.)

    Academic, feel free to lobby for your favorite proposal here in the comments. Those with five bucks to spend may take your campaigning into consideration!

  4. #4 Jen
    October 25, 2008

    Having attempted to teach science to Kindergartners in Philadelphia during a practicum, I can say from experience that it was ridiculous. It sounds like the school where Mrs. Y is at is even worse than where I was.
    I apparently voted twice, because the first time, I got an error message on the confirmation page. I’ll have to forward those when I get home again later. Anyway, do I get two votes for the tattoo, or three, since I donated earlier? Whatever number of votes I have, I vote for the tattoo, as long as you won’t get any more after that.
    Last, for those of you who are wondering, the usb drives up in the drawing are very cute, and ship quickly. I just got mine today.

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