Access to Civil Rights History

A number of the Donors Choose donors from this blog have found this project appealing, and it’s no wonder why. There is only $185 to go to fully fund it. Can we push it over the top?

Researching Our Past

My Students: My 4th graders attend a Title 1 School and have limited access to technology outside of school. We live in a technological age, and my students deserve the opportunity to be exposed to as much technology as possible.

My students face the world already at a disadvantage. Our school is in one of the poorest counties in South Carolina. It has a 15.6% unemployment rate, so these children face tremendous challenges in their life away from school. Most of the students receive free or reduced lunches and free breakfast everyday. The only computers and technology they are exposed to is at school and they come eager to learn to use it.

My Project: Having an iPad available in my classroom for my students will allow them the opportunity to research Civil Rights and the Civil War using state of the art technology. The iPad will give them access to websites with pictures, videos, and key information about the leaders and heroes of the Civil Rights Movement and the Civil War. Not only will my students learn about our past, they will also learn how to use an iPad (something that they would never see outside of school).

This project is so important for us because it is vital we remember those who spoke out for change and because it allows my students to do that using amazing technology. Please help me expose my students to the Civil Rights Movement and the Civil War in a way that they will never forte, using a cool iPad!

My students need an iPad to help assist them in using technology to research the Civil Rights Movement.

Access to Civil Rights History

Students Building a Curriculum

One of the best ways students can truly learn their subject is to teach it to someone else. This Donors Choose project allows gifted students to do just that, helping them and their peers learn now and into the future.

Project Lab

Oak Grove Lower Elementary School in Hattiesburg, MS

My Students: Save our work! Students are creating authentic projects to share with other classes by developing “Learning Kits.” It is hard to motivate students to put forth their best effort if their materials will not hold up to long-term use. Knowing that their work will be “saved” will inspire them!

My students are second grade intellectually gifted students in one of Mississippi’s fastest growing school districts. These students come from diverse ethnic and economic backgrounds. All have been identified by set criteria to participate in this one day per week pullout program to promote higher level thinking skills.

My Project: With the help of the laminating system requested my classroom will be transformed into a project-based learning environment where students eagerly work on authentic projects to demonstrate their own learning and enhance the learning of others! We will call our classroom the “Project Lab” because our room will be like a lab with students working to create outstanding projects to share with others. Students will learn how to research, plan, set goals, and follow through to completion on a project of their choice based on each unit of study. By using the classroom laminator student’s work will be protected from wear and tear caused by use over the year. The “Learning Kits” they create with laminated educational reports, lessons and activities will be shared with other students. Without this laminator, these projects can only be shared for a short time; however, with this laminator system these projects can be used indefinitely and many students will benefit from our effort

Not only will “Project Lab” inspire my students to put forth their very best effort on authentic learning projects, but it will also allow them to produce high-quality projects that will enhance learning for their peers in our school. Once completed student-created “Learning Kits” will be available yearly to enhance the learning for many students.

My students need a laminator so the “Learning Kits” they create can be used by other students in our school.

Can you help these students learn through teaching? There are only two days to go on this challenge.

Students Building a Curriculum

Give Me Liberty or Give Me Socks

All too often, the history of our country (and any other history really) is presented as a series of dates and battles. The people involved are cardboard cutouts, heroes and villains. One Donors Choose teacher is trying to change that for her class by using novels along with the class history texts.

“Give Me Liberty or Give Me Socks”

Frank Long Elementary School in Hinesville, GA

My Students: Using the Social Studies and Science books would help my students connect to the skills being taught during that unit.

My students enjoy doing hands-on projects to include: edible ecosystems, simple machines, and solar system models. They also love to read! We are a Title 1 school, which means that our school is 100% federally funded and over 74% of our school meets the requirements for free and/or reduced lunch. Frank Long is one of many schools in our community that have transient military population.

My Project: These books would help enhance the visual memory of my students when learning about the numerous events that happened in the past. Many times students have a hard time drawing parallels to such events that have happened in the past and need more concrete examples. I believe each book will help to foster learning in my classroom. Please, help my students get these Social Studies books to complete Common Core requirements for the upcoming school year including George Washington”s Socks, Revolutionary War on Wednesday, and If You Lived at the Time of the American Revolution Kay Moor.

I believe Social Studies is a very important subject for the students of tomorrow. By using different text, it helps to stimulate interest and vocabulary for my students. A well-rounded student, is a life-long learner.

My students need 30 copies each of 3 books, including George Washington”s Socks, Revolutionary War on Wednesday, and If You Lived at the Time of the American Revolution Kay Moor.

Can you help these students out? There are only four days left to finish out this project. Every donation will help.

Give Me Liberty or Give Me Socks

Donors Choose Returns

I can’t say this any better than I did last year.

I really don’t want to have to do this.

Don’t get me wrong. I think Donors Choose is providing a valuable service. I want these kids to have what they need to get a rich education and discover the joy in learning in a way that old, worn out classrooms and materials will make more difficult. I want them to have things they can touch and play with and sometimes even break because there’s enough to go around. I want their educations to fit them for a modern world in a way their outdated books simply won’t. I want them to have every opportunity to succeed, for themselves and for the society they’ll be creating when they’re grown.

I just don’t want them to have to rely on charity to get it.

We should be funding education and poverty relief such that no teacher ever has to come to us and beg for our help. It isn’t just human and decent and all that, but it’s one of the smartest uses to which we can put our money. Asking most people to be smart, however, is apparently some kind of inhumane imposition. At least Donors Choose is here, and at least there are people like the readers of Freethought Blogs who understand the value of an education.

I have found a way to make me feel a little bit better about the start of this, though. Keep reading. Continue reading “Donors Choose Returns”

Donors Choose Returns

Well, I've Got My Rights

I find religion boring, when I don’t find it laughably bizarre or dangerously authoritarian. There’s a whole lot of nothing there, and I just can’t make myself pay attention for very long.

There. Blasphemy Day done. Check.

Except today isn’t actually Blasphemy Day. It’s Blasphemy Rights Day International, and me exercising my rights in this part of the world doesn’t do much to change the situation in the rest of the world. It doesn’t free any “blasphemers” from jail. It doesn’t stop them from being executed. It doesn’t even stop them from being legally discriminated against.

That isn’t a slam against people who participate in Blasphemy Day. Maintaining our rights is important to, and having any broader impact–or even knowing how to try–isn’t always easy. Luckily, the Center for Inquiry, which helped start the day, is on the case. Continue reading “Well, I've Got My Rights”

Well, I've Got My Rights

We Have the Technology

I’m not asking you for money. Not today, anyway. I’m asking you for your Facebook account, briefly. Temporarily. A few clicks now and maybe a few more later, depending on how you feel about Facebook apps.

So, what am I asking you to do? I’m asking you to join in the Chase Giving voting, to help bring Camp Quest and the Secular Student Alliance into a decent amount of funding from corporate sources. I’m asking you to hold your nose when the application tells you it will collect a bunch of your personal information and vote anyway. (Also, I’m reminding you that it’s a good idea to purge apps on your Facebook account from time to time anyway, and a couple of days from now, after voting ends, would be an excellent time.) Chase can already collect a buy amount of information about you directly through Facebook. With this app, they’re paying secular nonprofits for it instead.

If you’re willing to share a link to the campaign with your friends, you can qualify for a third vote. Foundation Beyond Belief is also in the running, but they’re already doing better than the other two.

For more on why to do this, see JT’s post from this morning:

Please read this post all the way through.  It’s short.

Camp Quest and the Secular Student Alliance, along with Foundation Beyond Belief, were nominated by Chase employees for the Chase Community Giving program.  Here’s the deal: Chase doles out $5 million dollars to groups that were nominated.  The organizations get a portion of that cash based on how many votes they get on facebook.

Here’s the breakdown:

$250,000 to the Charity receiving the most votes
$100,000 to the next ten runners-up Charity
$50,000 to the next thirty-five runners–up Charity
$20,000 to the next fifty runners-up Charities
$10,000 to the next one-hundred runners-up

I’d like to direct you guys back to what I said about Camp Quest recently:

I will make an additional, personal plea on behalf of Camp Quest.  They are behind the other three organizations yet, in my estimation, they are atop the pile in terms of importance.  Go vote for them.  It will take you maybe, maybe sixty seconds to click “allow app” and “vote.”  Surely if you give the first shit about this culture war you can spare sixty seconds.  You could also go the extra mile and tell your friends to vote for them.

Amanda Metskas, the Executive Director of Camp Quest, has a near-magical ability to make money go further than anybody else thought it could.  She will do wonders with the kind of money Camp Quest could win here.

And, if you’re looking to donate, trust her with your money.  You won’t regret it.

Right now Camp Quest has 1,404 votes.  That’s all.  Only 1,404 for one of the most important things the atheist movement can be doing.  I know a lot of the readers here have gone and voted, but they need more! Camp Quest only needs to gain 100 more votes on the group presently at the $20k barrier to go from $10,000 to $20,000.  That’s a lot of money, especially in the hands of Amanda Metskas.

Please, please, please, if you haven’t, go do it.  It won’t take a dime out of your day.  It might, if you’re slow, take a whole minute.  That little click is not meaningless.  In fact, it means a ton!  If you care about this movement, this is a way to make a potentially enormous impact with a minimal amount of effort.

And please, please, please share this information.  Get everyone you know to vote.  Voting ends tomorrow and they need as many votes as possible before then.  If we can’t get more than 1500 people to click “yes, I’d like Camp Quest to have 10,000 more dollars” then there’s something really wrong with atheist activism.

And, if you want to go the extra mile, toss a vote at the other atheist orgs while you’re at it.  If the Secular Student Alliance drops a couple more spots they lose $30,000.  If Camp Quest is important to you, it should be equally important to put some bucks into the hands of the organization that helps these kids when they get a little older.

To vote for Camp Quest, click here.

To vote for the Secular Student Alliance, click here.

To vote for Foundation Beyond Belief, click here.

Also Chase customers can vote twice more at

Thank you, everyone.  *hug*

This is such a simple action that can have big consequences for some of our hardest-working nonprofits. Help with a few clicks, and show them what we’ve got as a movement, won’t you?

You can also help JT’s post catch the eye of the Reddit crowd if you have an account by upvoting it here.

We Have the Technology

How Failing Aan Failed Ourselves

Sometimes you just don’t find the right words until it’s too late. This is one of those times. Damnit.

I’ve been plugging the Alexander Aan petition since the Center for Inquiry posted it. (Aan, in case you’ve missed the story, is an Indonesian atheist jailed for posting about his disbelief–on Facebook.)  I didn’t write about it because I didn’t have anything to add. “I agree. That’s bad. Go sign” has never gotten much response when I tried it. Maybe I still should have.

I just passed it around when others did a good job of explaining why the petition was needed. I signed it, as much of a pain as the White House petition system is. And I watched as it spectacularly bombed, attaining only 8,000 signatures.

Now I’m watching as people try to figure out “why” this happened.

  • “Oh, signing petitions is worthless.”
  • “Oh, the system was glitchy.”
  • “Oh, Obama wouldn’t do anything in an election year.”
  • “Oh…oh…oh.”

None of those are the reason the petition gained only 8,000 signatures. The reason it ended up with so few signatures is that next to none of us signed. Around a third of the number of people required in order to put this petition in front of the president got off their asses long enough to make this happen.

Sadly, only now do I have the words to tell you why this is such a problem. Continue reading “How Failing Aan Failed Ourselves”

How Failing Aan Failed Ourselves

Why I Love Pamela Gay

A few years ago, there were two Pamelas for me. One was a friend of friends, known by reputation through the physics education community. She was the person who made a trip to SIUE or an AAPT conference more complete by hanging out for an evening. She was both relaxing and inspiring to talk to, one of this world’s incredibly pleasant people, despite being put through a lot in her professional situation.

The other Pamela was this kick-ass astronomer and skeptic who did…well, everything. She was constantly traveling, talking, recording podcasts, getting people involved in citizen science, starting new programs, working for grants–everything. She was a little bit intimidating, though admirable, in her iron will and the energy she spent getting things done.

Then I discovered these two Pamelas were the same person. Continue reading “Why I Love Pamela Gay”

Why I Love Pamela Gay