Wednesday, May 17, 2006

You can help educational programs

DonorsChoose is a nifty website that collects in one place many educational programs and initiatives. If you are a teacher you can pick one or more of those to support, or you can add one of your own. If you are a teacher who needs something, this is the place to ask for it. If you are a blogger, you can challenge your readers to donate to the program of your choosing. Donations are easy to do.

I am not a public school teacher so I cannot register, but I am a blogger and I want you to donate to the programs that you like the best, perhaps one of the science teaching programs, or, perhaps one of the North Carolina programs (click all images to enlarge).

My local favourite - and I cannot see if it is listed on there - is Destiny, a Science Bus that travels around the North Carolina schools and gives students (and teachers) hands-on experience with modern techniques in biology, linked to the real world (e.g., solving crimes) and with a heavy emphasis on evolution. The kids, for instance, get real samples of real DNA from several real species of fish, run real gels and construct real phylogenies of those fish species. Destiny was featured this morning on WUNC, as part of their high school series (I do not see a transcript or podcast there yet).

Destiny has some corporate sponsors, and is affiliated with the Biology Department at UNC, so I do not know if individual donations are necessary or even accepted. But I like the program nevertheless - if you are a high school teacher (or parent or administrator), try to get the bus to come to your school. You can send your money to some other cause, some science teacher in a poor community who needs a microscope or a computer for his classroom.

My big favourite, which is not local, is Project Exploration. This project is the brainchild of paleontologist Paul Sereno and his wife, historian and educator Gabrielle Lyons.

If you do not know who Paul Sereno is, you are probably not interested in dinosaurs at all, as he is the #1 Big Star of Dinosaur Paleontology. Among else, he has discovered Carcharodontosaurus saharicus, one of the largest dinosaur carnivores - the African version of T.rex. Jobaria tiguidensis is the best preserved skeleton of a long-necked dinosaur. Sarcosuchus imperator, better known as Supercroc was big enough crocodile to hunt and eat dinosaurs. He has also discovered Eoraptor lunensis and Herrerasaurus ischigualastensis, two of the oldest dino fossils belonging to some of the earliest dinosaurs. Deltadromeus agilis, discovered by Gabrielle Lyons, was one of the fastest dinosaurs ever.

I had a good fortune to see Sereno give a talk and briefly to introduce myself to him, at the 2000 meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology in Chicago. My brother knows him much better, as he and Gabrielle knew each other from grad school. Thanks to their friendship I got, over the years, a bunch of informational materials from the Project Exploration, as well as some really cool stuff, like some Sahara sand, a small plant fossil and several T-shirts that you cannot buy - they are not for sale. One day when I get out of financial problems, I will make it an annual ritual to donate to their program, devoted to bringing excitement about science to inner-city schoolchildren, particularly minorities and girls. In the meantime, I hope that you donate. They do not take any money from the government and depend on individual donations for their operation. You can donate your money, or alternatives (stocks, time, work), easily through their website.

I will place a button on my sidebar that looks like this:
Project Exploration
That way, you can just click whenever, in the future, you wish to send them a few bucks.
Update: Tara reminds me that it may be important to show you their financial report, as well as the outcomes of their work:
Our programs are creating pipelines to future careers in science:

* Students participating in our field programs are graduating high school at an 18% higher rate than their peers.
* Students are pursuing science in college—25% of all students and 34% of our girls declare science as their major.
* The girls in our programs are pursuing science in college at five times the national average.

Technorati Tag: teaching-carnival


Anonymous boojieboy said...

What you may not know is that Paul's whole family are super-intelligent and high achieving. In my own field, cognitive-neuroscience, his brother Marty is at UCSD and has created one of the most important tools for visualizing and mapping cortical function. His sister Anne is an important neuroscientist as well. Don't know much about the others though.

I'd love to know just how their parents managed to do it.

10:24 AM  
Blogger coturnix said...

I did not know that, but why should we be surprised? Are his siblings also as handsome/beautiful as Paul?

10:33 AM  

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