Pharyngula

For the teachers

Did anyone catch the reference to Donors Choose in Doonesbury? This is an organization that a bunch of us sciencebloggers campaigned for last year: teachers submit projects and requests for funding, and then we promote it and try to get people to make donations to support the projects.

We aren’t going to be pushing it just yet — wait until October — but this is the time for teachers to be writing up short requests and sending them in. Janet has all the details, but the rough summary is that if you’re a teacher, and you’ve got a great little idea that all you need is a few hundred dollars to make real in your classroom, you ought to write a proposal and send it in right now.

Comments

  1. #1 Meg
    September 10, 2007

    I teach at the college level, where funding isn’t quite as tight as at many schools in low income neighborhoods. I think this (DonorsChoose.org) is a great idea. And for a few brief minutes I thought I might even send some small sum in that direction (I don’t earn a whole lot, but I do think education is important and in need of financial help). However, in my perusings of the requests, I see a lot of teachers asking for hundreds of dollars for … KITS!! For kits to give them things that if they looked around a little, they could get most of the items for much less than they’ll pay a biotech company (I only really looked at the biology requests, since that’s what I’m familiar with). Some one wants plants to show their students concepts related to development and interaction with nature – super. Why do they need $500 worth of *carnivorous* plants? DNA extraction kits for hundreds of dollars – but you can extract DNA with some salt, detergent and ethanol (Vodka) from strawberries or other fruit/veggie in about 20 minutes – I’ve done it with my classes at community colleges and university, and there are hundreds of recipes available. Students would get a lot more out of using items they see and use every day than using solutions with obscure names for which they have no recipe. And the requests for bins for doing composting or recycling – there are hundreds of designs for compost bins available for free online. Building the bins can be part of the lesson.

    I can’t find any forums there, which is why I bring this up here. What am I missing? Why are these people not requesting donations for the lowest cost supplies they actually need, instead of the most costly kits that are available on the market? I’m sure some of it is due to marketing (and I’m actually not a fan of most of the companies that market products for “educational use” – they seem to think that means they can charge 3x what they’d charge research labs for the same materials, and throw in a few extra copies of the instruction booklet.)

    I am worried about these teachers, if they don’t know and can’t think of ways to get around these challenges without buying very expensive kits or exotic samples. With a little imagination, we can explore our world with much less expensive tools. I’ll keep looking for requests that seem reasonable, but maybe I’ll just pay a visit to the local high school or junior high and have a chat with the science teachers there.

  2. #2 Willard Treese
    January 1, 2010

    I knw ths s rlly brng nd y r skppng t th nxt cmmnt, bt I jst wntd t thrw y bg thnks – y clrd p sm thngs fr m!

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