Last year (just before I joined the fold) the Scienceblogs gang teamed up with a company called DonorsChoose to help out teachers with good ideas about how to make science education better.

DonorsChoose is a website that lets teachers post proposals for funding, and lets potential donors search through those projects for ideas that seem to match their own sense of what’s needed.

This year, we’re doing the Blogger Challenge again. If you click through the little thermometer link in the sidebar, or this link right here, you can pick one of the projects I’ve chosen and help fund any of the great ideas those teachers have selected. A few lucky donors will be randomly selected by our Seed overlords to get special prizes, and various groups are watching the results and matching certain sorts of donations.

Picking the projects was no small task. There are teachers asking for money to buy chalk, or to buy paper pads to use instead of their broken blackboards. I could have filled a list with proposals like that, and not made much of a dent in the problem.

What I wound up selecting was much more modest. Three schools, all with high poverty rates. Three projects, each to do with getting kids out into nature. One teacher wants to bring plants and insects into the classroom to give students in Chicago a chance for some hands-on biology.

In LA, an inner-city science teacher wants to get students a chance to see insect larvae up close. They need to get ahold of larvae and microscopes so that the students can appreciate the beauty of bugs.

Here Oakland, a teacher in a high poverty school wants to get students out into the wilderness for a few days. This is an expensive project, but it’s a great opportunity to get kids out to see what all the fuss is about. They’ll have a chance to visit a marine mammal recovery center, to hunt bugs in ponds, and hike through the redwoods. For students in a school without a grass yard, this could well be a life-changing experience.

I’m guessing that all of you reading this can attribute at least some of your love of science to these sorts of hands-on experiences, not to mention the influence of smart, active teachers like the three who put together these plans. I’d love to see the TfK community do its part and help out these teachers and their students.


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