Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted)

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Today is a special day because today is the first day of my DonorsChoose Challenge. DonorsChoose is a fund-raising campaign where the public can help classrooms throughout the United States to raise the funds necessary for educating children in grades K-12. Each ScienceBlog writer who is participating will raise funds for the entire month of October. Each participant has chosen a subset of the listed classroom proposals to fund based on their own special criteria. I have chosen “my” Challenge classrooms based on two criteria: first, they must be in a high poverty school (as defined by how many students qualify for reduced or free school lunches — all “my” classrooms have at least 80% of their students on reduced/free school lunches), and second, they must be requesting funds to teach children about the biological sciences, particularly evolution and ecology. I strongly encourage you to read my Challenge proposals yourselves, so you can get an idea of the truly desperate situations faced by many of these classrooms as their teachers fight to provide a decent education for this nation’s children.

What is DonorsChoose? DonorsChoose is a non-profit organization where K-12 teachers write proposals for funding for specific supplies, projects or lessons for their classrooms. These proposals range from providing books and other supplies for “their kids” to adding an entire lesson to their curricula or for starting an after-school group, such as a bird watching group. None of the money raised goes to me, nor to DonorsChoose. I am merely acting as a mouthpiece to draw attention to these teachers and their kids’ educational needs. All money goes directly to the teachers and their classrooms. You can donate anonymously, or leave your name and contact information so the classroom can thank you. I encourage you to leave a comment for the classrooms and their teachers when you donate!

NOTE: is a 501(c)(3) charity. All donations are tax-deductible to the fullest extent of the law.

How does this work? Teachers from around the USA wrote proposals seeking funding for their classrooms. Then, each blog writer, like me, reads through these proposals and designs their own “Challenge” by choosing specific proposals that they think their readers are most likely to feel strongly about. My particular “Biology is Life” Challenge focuses on high-poverty classrooms throughout the nation that seek to educate kids about evolution and ecology. Most often, this education takes the form of teaching kids about birds and nature. If you read these teachers’ proposals, you’ll find they seek funds for basic equipment, kits and supplies — most of which can be re-used. When my readers donate to my Challenge, their monies will be divided up among the projects I have chosen to include in my Challenge, or you can choose a specific project to donate to. I will highlight specific proposals on my blog each weekday for you.

ScienceBlogs’ History of Helping DonorsChoose: In 2006, the first year that DonorsChoose was raising funds, ScienceBlogs helped. Our readers’ donations were combined with a $10,000 match donated by our parent organization, Seed Media Group. Collectively, we raised more than $34,000 for America’s classrooms in 2006. Last year in 2007, ScienceBlogs’ writers and readers nearly doubled their previous effort by contributing $72,920 ($15,000 of which was donated by Seed Media Group) to our DonorsChoose Challenge classrooms. This year — the third year for DonorsChoose and ScienceBlogs’ participation — our collective goal is to meet or exceed $100,000. We already know that Seed Media Group plans to donate a large sum of money, and there is at least one other company that is considering joining us in making a large contribution (stay tuned to read more about that!).

How to donate: There is an interactive widget at the top of this entry and also in my left sidebar, halfway down. You can click on that widget to read more, to donate (it will walk you through the process), and you can even get the widget code to add it to your own blog if you wish to support my Challenge. That widget will be there for the entire month of October.

If you have problems: Let me know specifically the problem you encounter, the time of day, and the type of computer and browser you were using. I am in close contact with DonorsChoose technical staff and they are ready to troubleshoot and fix users’ problems as soon as they are identified.

Don’t forget: No donation is too small: Every dollar helps!


  1. #1 Bob O'H
    October 1, 2008

    Let’s Make Science and Nature Accessible to Everyone? Ah, you’re going to try and persuade NPG and the AAAS to switch to Open Access.

    I’ll warn Maxine.

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