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Helping Schools Hit By Sandy

Terra Sig’s Post-Sandy Science Drive

During the month of October, I had usually participated in a science blog drive to raise funds for public school teachers through a superb, New York-based charitable organization called DonorsChoose.com.

For those not familiar, the non-profit was the brainstorm of Charles Best was a Bronx high school history teacher who, like many others, spent a considerable amount of his personal funds on resources and supplies for his students. Best came up with an idea for an online giving site where teachers could match specific projects to parents and other external donors — “where anyone with $5 can become a philanthropist.”

How it works.

The entire story is here but DonorsChoose has been a remarkable success.

Many science bloggers became involved with DonorsChoose as far back as 2006 due to the efforts of physical chemist, philosopher, and science ethicist Dr. Janet Stemwedel. While we were at ScienceBlogs.com, Janet corralled the entire network and then other blogging networks into a month-long challenge where we asked our readers to spare a few doubloons for projects we thought would appeal to our audience.

Most of us focused on promoting science projects, of course. But I became acutely aware of the poverty of school systems barely 50 miles from where I live (one city had 34% of the population living below the US poverty line, currently defined as an annual income of less that $23,050 for a family of four). Some teachers simply needed pencils and paper for their students.

Seriously. How can you get to science education if your school district lacks the funds to purchase basic supplies? You can simply rely on parents who are struggling to merely feed their families.

So, I listed many of these efforts together with some of the more creative science projects.

Well, Terra Sig readers blew me away the very first month. Although the blog ranked in the bottom 75th percentile of readership, we ranked #1 in dollars given per 1,000 unique visits. Yes, we have quality readers — generous and good-looking.

I got tied up with other things this October and didn’t have a dedicated giving page. But various science blogging factions are once again part of a friendly competition called, well, Science Bloggers for Students. While originally intended to finish last week, Janet and other science bloggers like Gerty-Z are extending their drives to focus specifically on supporting projects at schools hit hard by last week’s tremendous storm.

Even better is that DonorsChoose is extending their 100% match — yes, your donation has twice the impact! Just enter SCIENCE when prompted for the gift/match code.

These blogs at CENtral Science get a great deal of traffic from the northeastern United States, areas hit hard last week by Hurricane/Superstorm Sandy. I also hail from the Jersey Meadowlands area and spent many a childhood and college summer at places like Seaside Heights, Ocean Beach, and Atlantic City.

So, I’ve picked a few projects that you might care to support.

Sandy Won’t Stop Our Biotech Course!!! - Brooklyn Intl High School – Brooklyn, NY

Hurricane Sandy has been the most devastating natural disaster to have ever struck New York City. Our school is located on the water’s edge and due to the storm surge, we lost power for several days resulting in a loss of all of our biotech reagents and PCR enzymes. Our school is a small Title I high school located in the Flatbush area of Brooklyn. We are located in “Asthma Alley,” and sandwiched between two major urban bridges- The Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges.

Genetic Analysis Through Advanced Technology – Dr. Charles E Brimm Medical Arts HS – Camden, NJ

I currently am the sophomore science instructor at a medical arts magnet high school in New Jersey. Students attending the school receive a rigorous math and science concentrated curriculum. My students come from high poverty where many parents have not even graduated from high school. Science for my students can be difficult to understand at times. They love to complete activities or anything hands-on to aid in learning the material presented to them. However, our budget for the science department is slim to none with the current economy.

Urban Botanists Dig Plants - Weequahic High School – Newark, NJ

Our high school students live in a high-poverty neighborhood in urban New Jersey, surrounded by concrete and cement. They have little exposure to plants and gardens, so our classroom provides a rare opportunity for kids to go green by growing green plants to study and eat.

Where Am I Supposed to Look That Up? – Thurgood Marshall Academy – New York, NY

The book I’m requesting will specifically target the chemistry content in New York State, applying specific examples, diagrams and practice problems specific for my subject area. The students are currently only using my notes, and an outdated text book, and I want them to have a textbook that is more applicable to the content in this day and age. This will allow them to better understand Chemistry (and science), aid in developing their science education, and better appreciate the science that occurs in the world around them. The material in the book will not only help them pass my class, but pass the NYS Chemistry Regents in June of 2013.

And if none of these strike your fancy, DonorsChoose has put together this list of all the projects currently unfunded for schools affected by Sandy.

Of course, prioritizing needs at this time depends on your personal approach to philanthropy. Charity Navigator is an independent organization that rates aid organizations based on their active response to tragedies. They have a list of highly-rated organizations where your money can have the greatest impact immediately as well as a general guide to giving during a time of crisis.

But if you choose to donate to our DonorsChoose projects, you can keep track of our project with this rolling widget.

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