As you may have seen on some other ScienceBlogs blogs, it’s time again for the annual DonorsChoose fundraiser:

If you haven’t been here in past years, DonorsChoose is a charity dedicated to education. They take specific proposals from school teachers looking for items to help their classes– anything from pens and paper to classroom furniture, to smart boards and computer projectors– and allow donors to choose specific classroom projects that appeal to them. We’ve run a fundraiser for them every year since ScienceBlogs was started.

This year, they’ve expanded beyond blogs, to a more general “Social Media Challenge.” They’ve also abandoned the specific financial goals for individual blogs, meaning that any threshold for a big incentive will be an arbitrary choice later. I still haven’t heard a good big incentive suggestion, so if you’ve got a brilliant idea, leave it in the comments over there.

I can, however, offer some smaller incentives that will hopefully inspire a few people to donate: free books. I have one spare galley proof of How to Teach Physics to Your Dog left, and the finished books are scheduled to start rolling off the presses in mid-to-late November. So, two incentives:

  • I will give one advance copy of the book (choice of galley proof or finished copy) to the largest individual donation to my challenge during October.
  • I will give at least one advance copy of the book to a donor chosen at random from those who contribute to the challenge.

(The weasel wording is because if I get lots of qualifying donations I may give out more than one, so the odds of winning aren’t too bad).

In addition, as in past years, a donation of $20 gets you the right to ask a question of your choosing and have me answer it on the blog.

So, if any of these sound attractive to you, make a donation to the challenge, and forward a copy of the confirmation email to to claim your prize.

Obligatory disclaimers: Residents of Chateau Steelypips and their immediate families are not eligible for the free books– you’ll get yours later. People who wrote cover blurbs/ beta reader reports, ditto.

Incentive offers may be combined, so a $100 donation would get you five questions answered and also qualify for the drawing and potentially the biggest donor prize.

I reserve the right to refuse to answer questions that I deem inappropriate for whatever reason. If I refuse to answer something, I will tell you that, and give you the chance to ask another question.


  1. #1 Kate Nepveu
    October 1, 2009

    If, like me, the image for the challenge didn’t come through (I surf with plugins off), here’s a text link.

  2. #2 Lauren Uroff
    October 2, 2009

    I’ve donated through your widget and through Dr. Isis’s Temple of Giving. Both times, I’ve received an Apache dump because their code is getting an array-out-of-bounds error. The donation still goes through, though, so that’s good.

    Anyone else getting errors?

    By the way, since I donated more than $100, I’d like to take you up on your offer to answer questions. The first question I’d like help with is telling me how to tell my teenager about wave-particle duality, the classic experiments that show light is both a particle and a wave, and why he should care.

    The second question is more speculative – he’s an avid Discworld fan (where the speed of light seems to be variable) and wants to know what would happen in our real world if the speed of light was infinite. (My physics-fu just cannot cope with this question.)


  3. #3 Chad Orzel
    October 6, 2009

    Lauren’s first question is answered here with a free sample chapter of How to Teach Physics to Your Dog. The second question, I’ll get to a little later.

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