DonorsChoose Challenge

By Sean Carroll | October 1, 2008 1:55 pm

Each year, DonorsChose does a Blogger Challenge, where they harness the power of the internet to bring money to deserving classrooms in public schools across the U.S. In the past we have wimped out and supported other bloggers, but this year we’re stepping up to the plate. Big time.

Cosmic Variance Challenge 2008

It’s a simple and compelling model: individual classrooms isolate a pressing need, and donors can choose which projects to support. We’ve picked out a number of great projects that will help students learn about science in fun, hands-on ways, and we’re going to be adding a few more soon.

We’ve set a fundraising goal of $10,000 over the next month. That sounds like a lot, but it is enormously less than the capacity of our readers; we get about 5,000 hits per day, so that’s a pitiful $2/visitor. But most visitors, we understand, are wimps. So if we get $20/person from the 10% of visitors who are not wimps, we hit the goal. But it’s okay to go over! If we fall short, you should all feel embarrassed.

Mostly we just want to crush the folks at ScienceBlogs, who have put together their own challenge. Crush them, I say. Sure, they have a zillion blogs, several of whom have many times our readership. So what? This is a matter of how awesome the reader are, not how many of them there are. We will also be asking other friendly bloggers to either set up their own donation pages, or hop aboard our bandwagon — if anyone wants to advertise the challenge, we can list them as an affiliate on the challenge page.

And don’t think that we don’t appreciate your efforts. Once all is said and done, we’ll put up a post that lists and explicitly thanks anyone who donates more than $100 (unless you ask not to be listed). And if anyone donates more than $500, I’ll send a copy of my Teaching Company Lectures on dark matter and dark energy. Which aren’t cheap, let me tell you.

Reading through the list of projects is guaranteed to break your heart. In a world where we can “lose” $15 billion through fiscal malfeasance in Iraq, it’s painful to see public-school teachers go begging for a frikking LCD projector or a couple of microscopes. It’s not that hard to click the link and send a few dollars their way. The classrooms make a special effort to write back to every donor to thank them — it will put your heart right back together again.

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Cosmic Variance

Random samplings from a universe of ideas.

About Sean Carroll

Sean Carroll is a Senior Research Associate in the Department of Physics at the California Institute of Technology. His research interests include theoretical aspects of cosmology, field theory, and gravitation. His most recent book is The Particle at the End of the Universe, about the Large Hadron Collider and the search for the Higgs boson. Here are some of his favorite blog posts, home page, and email: carroll [at] cosmicvariance.com .

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