Donors Choose: Updates! Pictures! Notes!

I’m getting a flood of notes from very pleased teachers, and since it was your efforts that made them happy, I thought I should share.

Mrs. K’s “Places, Everyone!” is getting its carpet:

Thank you all so much for your generous support! I am so excited to have this new carpet on its way! It will be a wonderful behavior management tool, as each child will sit on their assigned square and be ready for learning. You will have given my students the gift of personal space, and made our room more comfortable and bright. You have given me the gift of time and better behavior management. Thank you for showing your support, and your generosity. I’ll be in touch soon with photos, an impact letter, and further updates. Thank you again!!

With gratitude,
Mrs. K

Ms. Blake has got her rock samples:

This is just a short note to thank you for your generous donations. We have used the rocks to understand the differences of metamorphic, igneous and sedimentary rocks and classify them by their properties. Students used the rock samples to test how physical and chemical weathering affect different rock types. We also used them as we discussed the rock cycle and how a rock can transform to a different rock type. Finally we used the center to explore and simulate the process of erosion.
Without your generous donation, the students would not have been able to participate in so many hands-on activities and experiments. The students were engaged and enjoying the learning process. I have no doubt that the students will remember all they learned thanks to your donations.

Because of donors like you, my students will have brighter futures.

With gratitude,
Ms. Blake

And we have got a beautiful note and gorgeous photos from Mrs. Williams:

We would like to express our heartfelt thanks for your generous gift to us. In the three years that we have been using DonorsChoose to fund our overnight field trip, we have never had a donor fund a complete project. Many of our students would not leave the urban environment if it was not for our “Ely Trip”. Introducing children to the National Park experience has become a mission for the fourth grade teachers at our school. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you!

With gratitude,
Mrs. Williams

Mrs. W's Class Field Trip
Mrs. W's Class Field Trip
Mrs. W's Class Field Trip

Those are some of the wonders the kids got to see. She posted pictures with the kids climbing all over that delicious geology, too, and they look delighted! I think you can see them on the project page – I just didn’t want to reproduce them without explicit parental permission. Minors and all that.

All those happy teachers and excited kids, and you made that happen! Round of applause. I’d buy all of you a drink if I could!

And if you haven’t emailed me in regards to the swag yet, there’s still time, and still swag available. Let me know what you donated, and I’ll put you in for a chance at some of it! Yahoo knows me as dhunterauthor.

You guys are fantastic. I can’t tell you how proud I am of all of you. Go, you! Go, science education!

Donors Choose: Updates! Pictures! Notes!

Donors Choose: Swag!

Right. We did one hell of a job on the Donors Choose Science Bloggers for Students challenge, my darlings. We held on to an easy third place behind PZ “1 Million Hits a Month Easy” Myers and Phil “I’m a Teevee Star!” Plait. That calls for some kind of award!

Oh, hey, I promised you awards, didn’t I?

So here’s what I need from you in order to deliver: email me to let me know who you are, how much you donated, whether I can give you public recognition or not, and if so under what name. Yahoo knows me as dhunterauthor. I’d just go off the Donors Choose page, but it hasn’t got any contact info, so only those who respond back to me have a chance to get swag. Fair enough, right?

Let’s see what we had in the mix:

1. Highest donor gets a short story, by me.

2. Second-highest gets a hand sample personally collected.

3. Starving Students Poem Drawing, wherein if your name is chosen, you get a poem by moi. Might do a few of these. Depends on how poetic I’m feeling.

4. Mount St. Helens posters. There’s three going, and everybody’s got a chance to win one.

5. Short story to our final donor.

That’s quite a lot of swag, but you guys donated quite a lot of money. Our final total was $2938. We reached funded 8 projects completely, and reached 891 kids with those funds. Not bad at all!

Mr. M, whose trip to Great Basin National Park we funded, has written us a couple of notes, which I shall combine here:

I hope our donors realize how much this trip means to our students. Every year we take our fourth graders on an overnight field trip to Ely, Nevada and Great Basin National Park. We experience not only the beautifully unique geological features of Central Nevada but also an historical train ride in which we learn about the impact that “high speed transportation” made on our past economy.
This trip has become a tradition at our school. My class is already talking about it because their older siblings participated. This is our fourteenth year and we hope to continue indefinitely. Your generosity is awesome. Thank you so much for taking the time to make this experience possible for our kids.

To everyone who made this bus possible: You hold a special place in our hearts. You are the best of the best!”

With gratitude,
Mr. M

That’s rather how I feel about you, my darlings!

We did amazing good work here. I’m so damned proud of you I haven’t even got the words to express it. I have got words for the stories etc. I promised, however, so no worries on that.

Thank you. Thank you times the age of the earth, thank you.

Donors Choose: Swag!

Donors Choose: Only Four Hours Left!

Okay, people, it’s crunch time: only four hours left in the Donors Choose challenge, only four hours left to get your donations matched. Thank you to all who’ve already donated! For those who haven’t, there’s still time – get thee to my giving page and make science happen!

Let’s finish strong and show these people just what a bunch of rock-dust coated geologists can do for science classrooms. Bring the hammer down.

And then I’ll stop asking you for money. ;-)

Donors Choose: Only Four Hours Left!

Donor's Choose: Mere Hours

Thanks to several generous donors, one amazingly so, we’ve funded Mr. Minkler’s field trip to Great Basin National Park. I expected that one to take us to the 11th hour, but I should have known you lot wouldn’t leave it so long. You’re beyond awesome, you are!

I had to scramble to find another project during my lunch hour, just in case there were folks who’d been waiting for payday for their shot at some good deeds plus swag. I found a beaut. Mrs. O’s after a stream table. Stream table! If you’ve never seen a stream table in action, head over to Riparian Rap and discover how immensely fun they are. I wish we’d had a stream table in school! And I’m loving this project description:

My Students: “The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality.” Albert Einstein

This is the mantra by which my students seem to live by. I teach in a college prep school that serves those who are traditionally under-served and marginalized in education. Over 90 percent qualify for the free – and reduced-meal program.

As Albert Einstein stated, the most important thing is not to stop questioning. I want to continue to cultivate this curiosity in the classroom.

My Project: From physics to geology, my students’ minds are always working! Every day in my fifth grade science classroom, questions arise and curiosity peaks. My students are hungry for science knowledge. In an effort to expand their knowledge of how the world works, we need hand on resources!

When science comes alive, students deeply engage to learn more about the world around them. By using a stream table students will see first hand how erosion occurs and how the world around them is formed. With a detailed world map they better be able to visualize geographically the climate regions we learn about in class. With interactive games and kits students will experience science being fun and engaging.

In a time when scientists are needed more than ever, these activities will inspire the scientists within each of my students. This will help to build the scientific leaders of our future!

I’ll confess, I only saw the words “stream table” and merely skimmed the description before adding the project and rushing back to work, but now I’ve had time to read up properly, I’m all the more in love with this one.

So there ye go: a little something wonderful for those late to the donor party. We’ve got until midnight Eastern time tonight to earn matching funds, which we can then put toward any projects that catch our fancy. If you’ve been holding back, but want to get involved, now’s the time. Whether it’s Mrs. O’s project, or one of my other Freethought Bloggers’ choices, or even one of the other blogging networks involved in the Science Bloggers for Students challenge, it doesn’t matter – they all qualify.

I want to take a moment to talk about the competition aspect of this, because you guys have done something incredible. The patrons of this cantina, this small but select crowd, have put En Tequila Es Verdad in third place overall. Who’s beating us? Pharyngula, at $15,131, and Bad Astronomy, at $5,497.

Take a moment to absorb this. It took the single most popular atheist/science blogger on the entire internet, and a popular astronomer who’s also a teevee star and author, to beat us.

That. Is. Amazing. You, my darlings, are bloody incredible.

DrugMonkey’s just a few lengths behind us at $2,055. Together, we pwn Phil Plait, so I’m choosing to view us as an unofficial team. If we get the rest of the Scientopia and Freethought Bloggers to sign on to this idea, we can chant “We’re Number One!” or, possibly, “¡Somos el número uno!” if Google Translate isn’t completely wrong and everybody’s consumed enough celebratory margaritas.

One thing’s for sure: this cantina’s done one hell of a job for those kids. And you’re still doing it. We’re bringing the hammer down.

I’m so damned proud of you right now!

Now, those of you who haven’t donated but meant to, head over to my challenge page and make wonderful things happen. We’ve got a stream table to buy. And there’s more projects we can select, if you all go crazy and finish this one early but are still eager for more. Just tell me in comments what you want to support, and I can add it.

Maybe, just maybe, we can make Plait’s pate shiny with sweat.

And then I shall stop pestering you for money, until next year, when we’re likely doing this all over again.

***For those who asked how much they have to donate in order to win that short story from me, the number to beat is $410.73. If you can best that, fantastic! But don’t beggar yourself to do it – there’s still plenty of other swag, including poems, if you want something personally written by me.***

Donor's Choose: Mere Hours

Donors Choose: Bring the Hammer Down!

I’m not a natively competitive person, and I don’t foresee any actual losers in the Science  Bloggers For Students 2011 challenges, considering that everyone’s involved in an excellent cause. The kids will see nothing but win. But some of us humans need a good friendly rivalry to motivate us. In which case, this is a science celebrity death match and WE WILL PWN YOU SUCKAZ!!!

I can smell the desperation in the air. Check out these two tweets, which simultaneously amused me and made me extremely damned proud of my readers.

[blackbirdpie url=”!/docfreeride/status/127214857467604992″]

My, my. Black magic, even so. And what’s forced them to take these desperate measures?

Our status as of 12:30am PDT

Why, I do believe that would be us, my darlings! Granted, we’re two bucks shy of the full lead amount, but still, we are responsible for that sound of quivering knees emanating from Scientopia’s neck o’ the blogosphere.

Do you need proof? Thee shall have it:

[blackbirdpie url=”!/drugmonkeyblog/status/127218562669613056″]

We are not merely on the move. We have got hammers. And we are about to bring them down.

Two donors today contributed $160, and I did my $200 match, so Mr. Minkler’s kids need a mere $576 for their field trip to Great Basin National Park. This blog gets over 400 hits per day. Let’s be pessimistic, and say it’s only 400, and moreover, it’s always the same 400 people. That’s less than $2 each to completely fund this project.

Now, not everybody’s going to donate. Some of you have already given generously, more than once. Some of you are starving students who haven’t got a spare dime. But I’m sure there’s plenty of us who could scrounge round in a pocket and come up with $5 or $10. And if you do that between now and the end of the challenge Saturday night, you’re going to get some extra fundage to toss into any project you like. So, go for it.

Mr. Minkler would be very happy. Just look at the note he sent me today:

Mr. Minkler just posted this message for Discovering the Wonders of Nevada:

“Hi Dana, We are crazy about you! Thank you so much for helping us get our kids to GBNP. We had one project completely funded through your blog. You are the best.”

That’s you. You are the best. He and his kids are crazy about you. Because you, my darlings, are the ones making this happen for them.

And if you’re here for the fiction rather than the rocks, and you’d rather support a classroom library, Stephanie’s got a project who’s time is running desperate short. Go buy some kids a book instead. I want Mr. Minkler’s kids to make it to the Great Basin, of course, but us rock-obsessed folk will get them there.

Everyone on Freethought Blogs has got a Donors Choose badge. Go explore until something tickles your fancy, and then put a few bucks in. Even – and this is heresy – head over to one of those other science blogging networks and see if they have anything that catches your eye. Sure, you won’t get any of the fancy incentives I’m offering. But you’ll still have helped students get the things they need, and I can tell you from experience that’s a wonderful, warm, fuzzy feeling.

These kids are the future. Our future. Give them what they need to fall in love with learning, and ensure their futures are full of win. Geos and other adorers of the good science of rock breaking: bring the hammer down. Get Mr. Minkler’s kids out in the field.

I’ll republish the incentives below the fold for those who need reminding. And for those who need competition more than incentives for motivation: DO NOT LET THOSE BLACK-MAGIC WIELDING HEATHENS AT SCIENTOPIA BEST US! NOT WHEN WE’RE SO CLOSE TO TROUNCING THEIR ARSES!

Continue reading “Donors Choose: Bring the Hammer Down!”

Donors Choose: Bring the Hammer Down!

Donors Choose: Matching Donations and a Thank You Video

Just a quick word before this beautiful thank you from Ms. Davis: you’ve got a chance to earn some extra donation cash from the Donors Choose Board of Directors, if you donate between midnight EST October 20th and the end of the challenge at one minute to midnight October 22nd. Yeah, that’s in addition to my snazzy incentives! Stay tuned after the video for details.

I got an email from Anna at Donors Choose:

Science Bloggers –

Today, I had the pleasure of meeting Mayen Davis, a middle school Science Teacher at a high poverty school in Queens.

Her project, “Women and Hands-on Science” was recently funded through Dana Hunter’s Freethought Blogs Challenge. She recorded this video message of thanks to let you all know how the project you’ve completed will help her students understand science.

Ms. Davis is just one of the dozens of teachers you have helped over the past three weeks. I hope you’ll see, as I did, the immense gratitude teachers feel when individuals like you support their efforts in the classroom.



Ms. Mayan Davis was one of the very first teachers you all funded. She’s got her stuff, and she demonstrates it whilst thanking you for making it happen:

That’s what you made possible.

So far, so wonderful – and it gets better! I got another email from the Donors Choose folks, and they’ve got a very generous offer for us:

Hi Bloggers,

Congratulations on an impressive 2.5 weeks of bringing resources to more than 8,000 students through Science Bloggers for Students.

The Board of Directors wants to thank you for your hard work, and to encourage readers to give, by matching all donations to Science Bloggers for Students between the first moment of Thursday October 20th and the last moment of Saturday, October 22nd (midnight to midnight Eastern time). 

If you were involved in last year’s campaign, the match will work the same way the HP match did:

-At the end of the three day period, all dollars donated will be totaled, and the Board of Directors will match those dollars.

-The number of dollars will be divided by the number of people who donated, and gift codes will be issued to every donor (via e-mail) for an equal share of the matching dollars. So, if 100 people donate $10,000, each donor will receive a $100 gift code.

-Individuals will, in turn, have the chance to apply the funds to whatever classroom project they choose.

If you have any questions about the logistics of the match, please direct them to Anna at ([email protected]).

Thanks for all your hard work to help students get the materials they need. Let’s finish strong to ensure that even more students have science materials in their classrooms.



How much of a difference can we make with that kind of match, eh? Let’s get it going! Large donation, small donation, it doesn’t matter – get thee to my giving page. Let’s get Mr. Minkler’s class to Great Basin National Park, and then see how many other students we can reach with the extra matching fundage! And remember, even small donations can add up in a hurry.

And who knows? Maybe the field trippers will send us a video!

Donors Choose: Matching Donations and a Thank You Video

Donors Choose: Who Rocks? You Rock!

So, this morning, I get this note from Ms. C:

“Dear Dana,

Thank you for including my project in your blog; I can’t believe how fast I am getting funded. I love bringing science into the library. I love collecting rocks in Utah, but my metamorphic section is very weak. I am so close to getting my rocks and other supplies! Thanks again to you and your blog followers.”

That was at 7:39am Pacific. At 8:11am, an anonymous donor plunked down $50, and by 8:56am, Jessica Ball at Magma Cum Laude had fixed them up with the rest.

Bam. Project funded, justlikethat.

And then, at 5:26pm, another of my marvelous readers funded Exploring the Wonders of Nevada. Another one done!

You, my darlings, never cease to amaze me.

That leaves just one. One. Discovering the Wonders of Nevada, as of this writing, needs a mere $996. And it’s not even payday. And the five-and-dimers haven’t even weighed in yet. And I’m in for at least $150.* Who’s gonna be the next $50 or more donor and ensure I’m in for $200? My direct deposit hits at midnight on Thursday. Are you lot gonna beat me to it, force me to seek out other projects to give my matching contribution to? I wouldn’t be surprised at this point! And I wouldn’t mind in the least. The more kids funded, the better for science education.

Get thee to my challenge page and toss your coinage in. Whatever you can spare. The amounts don’t have to make my eyes pop, although I admit that’s a nice effect. The thing is, though, if less than one-third of you gave a mere $10 each, we’d have this field trip funded by the end of the day.

I know we can do this. We are that damned good.

We got more lovely notes from teachers, and I’ll refresh you on incentives, below the fold here.

Continue reading “Donors Choose: Who Rocks? You Rock!”

Donors Choose: Who Rocks? You Rock!

Donors Choose: Final Stretch!

Right. So remember how I said I’d match two $50 donations? And remember how we had two challenges going on, so I kinda figured I’d split my fundage between the two of them?

Heh heh heh whoops. Left it too late. We are down to one unfunded challenge, thanks to your awesomeness. So I put down the complete matching donation on that one. Here ’tis:

Mah Contribution to the Cause

I also want to mention, strictly as an observation, that the only person currently beating us on Freethought Blogs is Jen McCreight, and she has traffic that is an order of magnitude greater than mine. Which, I think, just goes to prove that geologists don’t just rock, they are very gneiss, not to mention the schist.

Thank you, I’ll be here all week.

So, Ms. C’s library project only needs $97. We can do that. In fact, we don’t even need big donations to do it. Here’s a chance for those folks who can only afford tiny donations to make a huge difference. $5, $10, more, less, whatever – it all adds up. The Donors Choose Challenge ends Saturday, so time is of the essence. Get thee to my giving page.

But we’re not stopping there.

I’ve added two projects. They’re not cheap projects. But you know what? These projects will allow kids to get out in the field. They’ll get their hands on geology right out in the field, in Great Basin National Park. Field trip!

There’s nothing like a field trip for making a future geologist. I want to get these kids out in the field, people. I want to make this happen for them. And I believe you guys can do this.

So here they are:

1. Discovering the Wonders of Nevada. “Every year we take 150 fourth graders on an overnight field trip to Great Basin National Park. Our school is a Title One, 100 percent free or reduced lunch school. Our parents are hard working and very supportive, but can’t always provide the enrichment activities their children need. The fourth grade students look forward to the “Ely Trip” every year.” $1006 to go.

2. Exploring the Wonders of Nevada. “Every year we take 150 fourth graders on an overnight field trip to Ely Nevada. For many of our students, this is the first time they have been in a rural setting. Our school is in a lower working class neighborhood. Our students are well-behaved, enthusiastic kids who could use a little “boost.” Our parents are very supportive but can’t always provide the supplies needed for the school year.” $357 to go.

All right? Let’s do this thing. Again, you don’t have to be Aunt or Uncle Moneybags. Little amounts count. Every single dollar gets these kids closer to an experience with geoscience that will stay with them throughout their lives.

So. Incentives. I shall give thee incentives, because this is something we should all do together.

1. I’ll write a short story for the highest donor. You can even choose the subject, if you like, and you’ll get a paper copy complete with autograph, if you wish. You’ll have to give me until the end of the year, because I’m stupid enough to try NaNo this November, but I’ll have it written and sent to you in January. Yes, I will haul my arse to the hated post office just for you.

2. The second-highest donor will get a personally-collected hand sample. That’s right! I’ll post a list of places I’m going this summer (once I know what they are!), and you tell me what hunk o’ beautiful geology you want me to package up and mail to you.

3. I’ll match 4 (count them, 4) donations of $50. So you $50 folk get to double your money! Don’t let that stop you from donating more, of course! And if you guys manage to fund these projects before I can whip my credit card out, you can each pick a project of your own for me to donate to.

4. Starving Students Offer: Those of you too strapped for cash to manage more than small donations can still get a little something! Send me an email telling me what you’re studying, why you chose your major, and why you donated, and I’ll showcase you guys on the site. Plus, I’ll write a poem for the person whose note makes me punch the air and shout, “Yes! Science can haz future!” Same caveats apply as the short story deal.

5. I’ve also got some super-snazzy Mount St. Helens posters, so all who have donated to any of our projects and want their names in for that have a chance at winning one of Mother Earth’s great works of art. Yahoo knows me as dhunterauthor.

We’ve got until Saturday, my darlings. Make it so.

Donors Choose: Final Stretch!

Donors Choose: Let's Make it Four for Four – and One More!

I’ve got a delightful note here from Mrs. M in Renton, thanking all the folks who put science in her kids’ hands:

Dear Olga Vaughan, Mike Myszka, Sylvia, Anne, Patricia Poad, Joseph Tsang, Karin Hills, Rae Gerking, Lynn Gerking, Emily Henry, Chrissy Frashefski, Ryan Knowle, Megan Strom, Lauren Strom, Colette Breshears, CenturyLink, The Team and Anonymous Donors, 

Let me begin by saying, YOU ALL ROCK! I cannot fully express my gratitude for the generosity you have shown. My students will be thrilled when I make the announcement at school tomorrow. I am a believer that students learn by doing. I especially think this is true when they study topics that are innately interesting, like the world around them. The materials you have donated will give students the opportunity to touch, see, smell, and investigate rocks and minerals they may have never before explored. The books donated will open up a geological world of knowledge students may be seeing for the first time. Thank you so much for supporting hands-on science learning and for providing my students the opportunity to learn more about our amazing Earth.With gratitude,
Mrs. M

Warms you right down to the ground, doesn’t it just?

And, thanks to two incredibly generous anonymous donors, we’ve only got $193 left on Mrs. D’s Science Rocks! project. You guys made me cry at work today! Happy tears, mind you, with a touch of squee. You just made it much more likely Mrs. D’s kids will get their project funded!

I think we can do that. In fact, I’m so certain we can do that, I’m putting up Silver Fox’s selection before we’ve even finished. We can totally fund these two projects!

Ms. C’s kids need your help:

My Students: My students have few opportunities to do science research in the field. Utah is a geology gem, and I wish more of my students could discover the beautiful rocks that tell our state’s geological history.

My students come from diverse cultures and speak a variety of different languages. The majority of the students face economic challenges. The Title I school is located in an urban environment with few opportunities to experience nature. My students love learning and enjoy reading science books in the library.

My Project: Fourth grade students are involved in a four week daily geology research project in the library. The librarian and classroom teacher collaborate and teach science and research skills to the students.

The metamorphic rock samples will add the missing pieces to our rock/fossil collection. Hand magnifying glasses will allow the students to see all the grains and textures that are found in individual rocks. The field guides will be used during a “hands-on” rock lab to identify and study the different rock types. The other geology books will provide other information that will support our research.

The is a chance for students to connect science and research skills. By using real rocks, students can touch and explore the different rock types before digging into the reading research. The rock lab will provide prior knowledge so students can have a better understanding while reading science text.

The finished informational rock pamphlet will let students showcase their new knowledge and use technology skills to incorporate photos of the actual rocks that they studied.

Awesome, yes? And here’s even more awesome: the first two people to donate $50 or more to either of these projects will get a $50 matching donation to that project from me.

Let’s give these kids some geology, my darlings!

Donors Choose: Let's Make it Four for Four – and One More!

Donors Choose: Now You Get to Choose!

So far, so awesome: 3 of 4 projects funded. ¡Gracias, mis amigos! You’ve done a fantastic job, and put science in the hands of 216 students. Not bad at all!

But now’s no time to rest on our laurels.

Mrs. Dye’s Science Rocks project could still use your help. Head over to this page to show her students some love.

And then, because we’re not stopping there, head over here and pick a project or two you’d like to see added to my list. Put ’em in the comments. On Thursday morning, I’ll tally the votes and add the projects that inspired you the most to our challenge page.

That’s right. Our page. Because we’re all making it happen.

Think we can reach a thousand kids by the end of this? I believe we can. Let’s make it so!

Donors Choose: Now You Get to Choose!