Terra Sigillata

…not to mention you are discriminating, generous, good-looking and intelligent!

What am I talking about? First, recognize that our move to Sb has increased our daily visits steadily into the triple digits but we are still only floating around positions 32 to 40 among our 44 SiBlings.

But, be still, dear readers – we are kicking butt in two measures of DonorsChoose contributions. Pledge coordinator (and Sb 2.0 pledgemistress) Dr Janet Stemwedel was procrastinating on real work yesterday to calcuate that Terra Sig is #1 among ScienceBloggers for DonorsChoose contributions per 1000 unique views and #1 in contributions per visit.

#1 in the Stemwedel Awesomeness Index, if you will.

There should also be a prize for contributions based on income because I know that we got one huge contribution and a couple of contributions from folks like graduate students who don’t have much to give.

Sure PZ Myers’ readers met all of his challenges to fund 13 teacher projects and almost tripled his goal. But what we have here at Terra Sig is quality, not quantity. Congratulate yourselves on caring about education of the next generation of scholars.

And if the rest of you brilliant, handsome, and beautiful science aficionados care to contribute to the two remaining teacher project we are sponsoring, please let me tell you about them:

The first is to support the construction of a weather station for Grades 3-5 in Rocky Mount, NC.

We currently use things such as Weatherbug to view other schools, and it just hurts to hear the students ask, “Why isn’t our school on there.” These students do so much with the little they have, this is one experience that we definitely want for them…As students interpret the data, they can begin to draw larger hypothesis, such as the effect of greenhouse gases (which 4th and 5th graders study), weather phenomena such as El Nino and La Nina (which 2nd and 3rd graders study), and environmental concerns. Students will act as data collectors, checking the equipment regularly and we will also use the data on our daily news show. The opportunities for learning are limitless!

Sounds to me like the teachers are as excited as the students – a winning combination if I’ve ever heard one. I always wanted my own weather station and didn’t get one until I was 27. I also have a very soft spot for Rocky Mount, NC. You may have passed through it on I-95 on your way from the US Northeast on to Florida. What I love abou Rocky Mount is that it is the hometown of such luminaries as the baseball Hall of Famer, Buck Leonard, one of the first two Negro League players inducted into Cooperstown. Had Leonard been born 20-25 years later, his accomplishments would have eclipsed those of Jackie Robinson and those of hundreds of white major league baseball players.

Rocky Mount is also the hometown of jazz pianist and be-bop legend, Thelonious Monk. The kids there have all the potential for excellence but just need appropriate opportunities. Wouldn’t it be great if our support gave rise to the next modeler and predictor of US and Central American hurricanes?

Second, is a project in Lenoir, NC, to put up the second of two basketball goals on their playground. Not exactly science, you might say. But I content that this project is worthwhile and supportive of improved public health.

West Lenoir is a small K-5 school (250 students) in an industrial neighborhood tucked in the foothills of the North Carolina mountains (basketball country)! Ninety-four percent of our students are on free or reduced lunch, making our school one of the poorest in our system. Many of our parents are displaced furniture factory employees, unemployed due to plants closing and overseas outsourcing. Our parents would love to contribute financially towards this project; however, they struggle to support their families.

Lenoir is also the childhood spawning ground of Dr Kary Mullis, a 1993 Nobel prize winner in Chemistry for devising and implementing the polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Young Kary was born in Lenoir, grew up in South Carolina, then spent summers with his grandparents in Lenoir. The physical activity of farm life seemed to have fueled his intellectual passion, at least for setting off explosions.

But the basketball goals at West Lenoir would help improve the morale of kids whose families are suffering from job loss. Moreover, my WSJ colleague, Tara Parker-Pope recently wrote a great article on how physical activity in young girls can prevent breast cancer later in life (subscript req’d – email me if you want a copy of the article).

Clicking below will pull up these two remaining challenges – if you are so inclined to show your discriminating support for a fledgling blog and some real great Grade 3-5 proposals, consider throwing a few pennies their way.