The Scientific Activist

We’re now two weeks into our 2008 ScienceBlogs/DonorsChoose Challenge, which means that the challenge is almost halfway over. So, if you haven’t donated yet, please do! Either click on my widget to the left or on this link. The pace of donations has been a little slow this year, which is a shame considering that there are so many worthy proposals in need of funding. Let’s step it up!

In case you needed a little bit of extra motivation, though, Seed just announced that it’s offering prizes to donors. To maximize your chances of winning, donate as soon as possible, because prize drawings start this Friday! Janet has the details:

How to win great ScienceBlogs prizes:

First, make a donation (from $5 on up) to any of the challenges mounted by ScienceBlogs bloggers.

After donating, forward your email receipt to scienceblogs@gmail.com.

If you’ve already donated to DonorsChoose, you’re still eligible. Just send us a DonorsChoose receipt for a ScienceBloggers’ challenge dated from 2008 to enter.

Winners will be chosen at random every Friday from now through the end of the DonorsChoose Challenge (in other words, there will be drawings on October 17, October 24, and October 31).

Each week we’ll give away such prizes as :

  • subscriptions to Seed
  • collectible ScienceBlogs mugs
  • USB drives
  • sleek black laptop sleeves

There may be some books, too.

And, at the very end of the Blogger Challenge (which is to say, after the last moment of October 31st), all of you generous donors who have forwarded your e-mail receipt from DonorsChoose to scienceblogs@gmail.com will be entered in a drawing for the grand prize, a spiffy new iPod Touch.

My challenge still has seven proposals in need of funding. I believe that all are worthy of your consideration, but I wanted to highlight one in particular. “Mr. Z.” wrote a proposal to fund the acquisition of a “Lab Incubator for Genetics, Microbiology, & Chemistry” for his high poverty high school classroom in New York City:

My incredible students are DYING to do high-level science experiments — will you help motivate them to graduate from college to become doctors and research scientists?

Our students are (intellectually) equipped to do high-level work in microbiology, chemistry, and genetics, but our laboratory is not.

This is the first year we will have a 10th grade, so we do not yet have the supplies we need. We are a math and science themed school emphasizing inquiry-based lab projects. Our students are focused, mature, and intellectually ready for high-level science. I want to make certain that we can provide them with the type of learning environment that will continue their love for science, prepare them for a rigorous science track in college, and perhaps most importantly, give them experience performing experiments that will inspire them towards science careers.

Our students were highly engaged in our Living Environment curriculum this year due to the inquiry-based experiments we did. To continue to engage and challenge them, we are planning to begin doing many experiments using bacterial cultures in Living Environment, Chemistry, and an elective called “Microbiology & Public Health.” To do many of the experiments, a Lab Incubator is needed to grow bacteria cultures at high temperatures. The specific incubator requested is important because it is large enough to hold 3+ classes of samples and reaches the 65°C temperature required for certain experiments.

Science is fundamentally a hands-on enterprise. Performing actual experiments makes scientific education incredibly more interesting, inspiring, and memorable, and an incubator is a very basic piece of equipment that could potentially open up a whole world of experiments to these students.

Can you spare a few dollars to help Mr. Z make a difference?