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Looking around ScienceBlogs today and yesterday, you may notice a crop of new, blue-and-white buttons on many of the blogs. No, it’s not the latest in blog-homepage fashion (though they are pretty spiffy looking). The badges signify blogs that are participating in the ScienceBlogs/DonorsChoose fundraising challenge, a drive to raise some money for public-school science educators to take their teaching to the next level–using friendly competition among the blogs and a stash of fabulous prizes to help get the job done.

So what’s the ScienceBlogs/DonorsChoose fundraising challenge all about?

DonorsChoose is a nonprofit website that raises funds for public school teachers to spend on classroom projects. The site works in a novel way. Teachers submit proposals for specific projects they want to accomplish, along with details about how much money will be required for books, equipment, and other tools.

Individual donors go to the site and browse through project proposals, choosing to which projects they’d like to donate funds (and living out the fantasy of sitting on a grant board in the process). Giving to a DonorsChoose project “has a different feel from sending your little check to some big, diffuse ‘fund to help teachers and kids,'” says Janet Stemwedel of Adventures in Ethics and Science, who conceived of the challenge and coordinated the other bloggers to participate. “It really feels like you’re doing something to help a particular teacher and a particular group of kids.”

The DonorsChoose website enables users to browse project proposals in a number of ways, including by subject area. The 19 ScienceBloggers who are running challenges have selected science-related projects that appeal to them. By clicking to a blogger’s challenge page, you can read about the projects they’ve chosen, and donate to any that strike your fancy.

“A lot of us fell in love with science because of early experiences in school,” writes Stwemwedel, giving special credit to “teachers who made science intriguing, exciting, maybe a little bit dangerous.” In these days of reduced funding for public schools, and the No Child Left Behind-induced concentration of resources around math and reading, many science educators at the K-12 level have seen their teaching budgets dwindle.

Stemwedel gathered inspiration to start the challenge from the successful DonorsChoose fundraiser organized by Sarah Bunting on her site, Tomato Nation, in March. Stemwedel says “we can all work out the causal connection between teachers with the resources to make science come alive and, down the road, a population that actually values science.”

Seed has promised to match readers’ contributions to the DonorsChoose drive up to $10,000–potentially giving your donation even more leverage.

Donors will receive an email confirmation from DonorsChoose, which they can forward to sb.donorschoose.bonanza@gmail.com for a chance to win from a collection of prizes, including subscriptions to Seed Magazine, ScienceBlogs mugs, subscriptions to TIME magazine, and a variety of books.

Below, you’ll find a list of participating bloggers, and links to their challenge pages on DonorsChoose. Take a moment to click over and look through some of the teachers’ project proposals; it’s truly moving to see how many dedicated public school teachers have unique ideas that they’re motivated to make a reality in their classrooms.

The ScienceBlogs challenge runs from June 15 to July 1.

Here are the ScienceBlogs bloggers who are participating with Bloggers Challenges:

A Blog Around the Clock (challenge here)
Adventures in Ethics and Science (challenge here)
Aetiology (challenge here)
Afarensis (challenge here)
Cognitive Daily (challenge here)
Evolgen (challenge here)
Gene Expression (challenge here)
Good Math, Bad Math (challenge here)
Island of Doubt (challenge here)
Mike the Mad Biologist (challenge here)
Neurotopia, version 2.0 (challenge here)
Pharyngula (challenge here)
Pure Pedantry (challenge here)
The Questionable Authority (challenge here)
The Scientific Activist (challenge here)
Stranger Fruit (challenge here)
Terra Sigillata (challenge here)
Uncertain Principles (challenge here)
The World’s Fair (challenge here)

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