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Oct 03 2011

Support Freethought Blogs by helping teachers and their students

Donors Choose is an amazing charity that helps fund projects for public school classrooms across the US. The fact that we need such a charity to make sure our children receive a proper education is depressing. Some classrooms, especially in areas with high poverty, don’t have the money to provide supplies as basic as pencils for their students – students who are on state subsidized lunches which may be the only decent meal they get all day. Others want their students to experience the same inspiring projects – like dissections or growing your own garden – as affluent schools, but need extra help. Donor’s Choose vets the projects to make sure they’re not a scam, and you make a donation to improve the education of these young students.

This cause is especially important to me for two reasons. One, both of my parents were teachers (they’re now retired). My dad taught high school history and special ed in a Chicago public school for 38 years, and my mom taught middle school art for over 30 years. I know they always went above and beyond for their classroom, and I can only imagine how much they spent out-of-pocket for extra supplies to enrich their teaching experience. Two, I was lucky enough to attend a very affluent school system. I want all students to have the chance to have the same experiences I did, because I know those experiences shaped me into a freethinker, a scientist, and a thoughtful human being.

It’s also a bit of a competition. All of the science blogging networks are competing against each other. Let’s show places like Science Blogs and Scientopia that Freethought Blogs is the awesomest! Or show the other Freethought Bloggers that Blag Hag is the awesomest of the awesomest – you can donate using the widget over at the top of the right column.

I’ve hand-picked the projects because they have some sort of personal meaning to me. You can donate to whichever fits your fancy, but in case you’re motivated by my reasoning, read on:

  • Building a Community of Learners Through Mosiac - Like I mentioned, my mother was an art teacher. Art is a huge part of my life, and it truly enriched my learning experience. I found it helped me with science, too – it made me a creative thinker, helped me plan ahead (art projects aren’t always spontaneous!), and gave me graphical abilities that really helps when it comes to presenting your research. This project is also near my home town in Indiana.
  • Science Olympiad Rocks! - Science Olympiad is an academic competition that I competed in for 4 years, and later volunteered for when I was in college. Students participate in events ranging from tests on genetics, to building a bottle rocket, to forensic investigation. SO was some of the most fun I had in high school, and was one of the main things that motivated me to become a scientist.
  • Fetal Pig Dissection - I’m not going to lie. When I was in AP Biology, the Fetal Pig Dissection grossed me out. But looking back I recognize how valuable it is to have hands-on science experiences like this. Life isn’t something you can learn by just staring at a text book. Bonus: It’s a class of all girls, and we need more lady scientists!
  • Women and Hands-on Science - Speaking of lady scientists… Heck, do I even have to explain? More lady scientists. MORE!
  • Help Deserving Student Have a True Biology Experience - Time to dissect some frogs! I still remember mine – it was full of eggs.
  • The Magic of Math - Help another all-girls classroom fall in love with mathematics. I wish I would have had something like this when I was younger – I grew up hating math because I was so frustrated while learning it. Maybe if someone had taken a chance and tried a different teaching method like this teacher is doing…
  • Let’s See - This classroom goes on monthly nature walks – how awesome is that?! Help make their trips more awesome by providing them with magnifying glasses and microscopes, so they can get extra close in their explorations.
  • Encouraging Girls to Excel at Mathematics - You know the drill.
  • You Spin Me ‘Round - Dude, this classroom wants to perform its own polymerase chain reaction! I didn’t do PCR until after my freshman year of college. Having hands on experience with genetic fingerprinting will hopefully show these students how awesome genetics is. It’s not just about Punnett Squares!
  • Drosophila Genetics - More awesome genetics experiments! This time the kids get to breed their own fruit flies and look for mutants. MUTANTS! What high schooler doesn’t want to do that?
  • Grow With Science - Okay. Sometimes I harp on how plants are boring. But this was the ONLY proposal on the whole site to mention “natural selection.” I feel like we should reward this teacher so they can have their garden for evolution experiments! Bonus – they’re in Seattle!
  • Those Genes Look Good! - Genetics is a hard concept to understand. You can’t exactly see genes with the naked eye. I know models helped me understand concepts, so help these kids understand too.
  • Evolution Literacy - A primary school teacher who understands the importance of evolution? FUND THIS CLASSROOM STAT!
  • Leaping Lizards! - This classroom in Indiana wants to raise anoles to help them learn about the scientific method. I wish I learned about the scientific method using a tank of cute lizards.
  • Manipulate This! - This classroom is from my home town in Indiana, and they want hands on tools to learn about math. Math didn’t start to click for me until my 5th grade teacher whipped out little cubes and pawns we could manipulate to balance equations. Some of us our visual learners!
  • Highlight Your Learning - Last but not least, this teacher has created a Writer’s Workshop to encourage a love in writing in their students. As a blogger, how could I not support this? It’s also one of the neighboring towns from where I grew up.
Again, you can use the widget to the right or go here to donate. Donations are open until October 22. Thanks so much for helping out!

4 comments

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  1. 1
    ajb47

    Math FTW. Although I also donated to one of JT’s Arts and Music projects because music is important to me (and, or maybe because, my dad was a music teacher).

    AJ

  2. 2
    Mike McCreight

    I donated to Building a Community of Learners through Mosiac and Evolution Literacy. So many great projects to pick from. As a former teacher, I can tell you how valuable these donations will be. It sure beats having the teacher dig deeper into their own pockets.

  3. 3
    JJ

    All great suggestions. And I’ll donate to Grow With Science so that students can learn early on that plants, like math and genetics, aren’t boring!

  4. 4
    Jackson

    The cubes and pawns! That just brought back so many amazing memories. Those cubes and pawns on the scale were great, and it blew my mind when my teacher told us we were doing algebra.

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