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Science Bloggers For Students Challenge!

It starts with education. We’re not inspiring children. Somewhere down the line we forgot that science and engineering were creative, exciting, and rewarding—that they could achieve the impossible and change the world. We need to look at how we teach, test, and challenge children. I can see why No Child Left Behind is increasingly coming under fire. While its intentions are admirable, standardized tests dampen enthusiasm for education, curb creativity, and put people off science and engineering.

— James “he of the Bagless Vacuum Cleaner and Bladeless Fan” Dyson on America’s School Science Crisis

This is a request for support for my efforts in the Science Bloggers for Students challenge, a friendly month-long competition (10/10/2010 through 11/9/2010) between science blogs to see which can do the most to help low-income American classrooms on DonorsChoose.org. Pick a classroom project at MY GIVING PAGE to support. And help me beat the other bloggers! Whatever little bit you give helps.

Public school teachers from every corner of America post classroom project requests on DonorsChoose.org. Requests range from pencils for a poetry writing unit, to violins for a school recital, to microscope slides for a biology class. DonorsChoose.org is a 501(c)3 charity incorporated in the State of New York. You will receive a gift receipt via email that can be used for your tax records.

Not surprisingly, I have signed up to help students in the area of Science and Mathematics. As Dyson points out above, it is pretty sad that our nation’s piddly education budget goes to propping up the administration of a glorified standardized testing system, a “one size fits all approach [which] is convenient but lazy.” This is not a substitute for actual teaching with proper resources on the part of qualified teachers and hands-on experimentation and creativity by students. Our future scientists and new ideas will not come from memorizing useless facts (and factoids) and sharpening #2 pencils for another standardized test, but from thinking free and taking risks under expert guidance.

Furthermore, it is beyond disheartening that teachers have to take the time out from teaching and their own personal lives to go online and reach out to us, i.e. neither the Department of Education nor parents of children in those specific schools, to beg for the most basic of teaching materials. I can’t tell you how mad I get when a state or local government’s first and immediate response to the threat of hard economic times is to slash school and library budgets, to the point of shutting these buildings down altogether. While that is a fight for another time, if you are as disgusted and worried as I am about America’s plummeting science rankings, please help out these kids. Please.

Here’s more incentive: HP has agreed to match all donations to “Science Bloggers for Students” up to $50,000. That’s right – every donation to my Giving Page will be doubled! And I won’t say anything bad about our HP color laser printer for a good long while!

So, what are you waiting for? Go HERE and give! And big ups to all those who have given already; thanks to you, Team Maitri has raised $316 (make that $316 x 2 = $632) before the official challenge has even begun. You rock!

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