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 The Inoculation Project: Math & Science in Red State Schools

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Solid science education is the best inoculation against ignorance. The Inoculation Project, which was started by hyperbolic pants explosion back in 2009, is a group of Kossacks who gather weekly to try to combat the anti-science push in conservative America, by providing direct funding to science and math projects in red state classrooms. Our conduit is DonorsChoose.org, a ten-year-old organization rated highly by both Charity Navigator and the Better Business Bureau. DonorsChoose.org allows you to make direct contributions to specific, vetted projects in public-school classrooms, resulting in tremendous and immediate impacts from small dollar donations.

Each Sunday, we focus on funding a single small-dollar project in a traditionally red state classroom, preferably in a high-poverty district.

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Next week's diary will post on SUNDAY morning at 10 AM EDT.

Many school districts throughout the country are teaching science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) in grades K-12. LEGO robot kits are emerging as the primary tool to teach STEM.

FIRST LEGO League @ Powell Elementary3

The LEGO brand is readily recognized by kids and equated with fun. Teachers are exploiting kids' fascination with LEGOs to engage them in learning STEM subjects in new and fun ways. The LEGO Mindstorms robotic systems allow quick prototyping and can be programmed with many languages such as LEGO NXTG programming language, LabVIEW, ROBOTC, or JAVA making them adaptable to many different curricula in grades K-12 as well as in college engineering classrooms. In short, students develop both their creativity by designing and programming their robotics to perform specific tasks and collaborative skills by interacting with others in their group. Students also get a taste of how STEM professionals build, test and refine structures, tools and machines. Many schools are going a step further and forming robotic teams to participate in FIRST competitions.





FIRST is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded by inventor Dean Kamen to engage students aged 6-18 in exciting mentor-based programs that build science, engineering and technology skills. All of the FIRST Programs also build team cooperation skills, critical thinking skills, and self confidence. The Jr. FIRST LEGO League Challenge (ages 6-9)  involves building a LEGO model with a motorized part. Both the FIRST LEGO League Challenge (ages 9-14) and and the FIRST Tech Challenge (ages 14-18) involve building a robot from a kit and programming it to undertake a specific task. For the FIRST Robotics Competition (ages 14-18), students build a robot from scratch and program it to perform prescribed tasks. They compete against other teams at various levels and vie for a spot in "The Super Bowl of Smarts". Students who become involved in FIRST gain valuable skills and enroll in engineering, science, or other technology undergraduate programs more frequently than their peers who have similar backgrounds but did not participate in FIRST.






  This Week's Main Project:
Project: LEGO Robotics Goes Viking!

Resources Needed: a LEGO(r) Mindstorms NXT 2.0 kit
School Poverty Level: High
Location: Cheney Elementary School, Orlando, Florida
Total Cost: $362.66
Still Needed: $288.66  $217.66
Expires: Sep 30, 2011

Teacher's Comments from Ms. B:

My Students: Do you remember the first time you played with Legos? Students at our school want to start a Lego Robotics team, but we need an NXT Mindstorms kit!

I work at a Title 1 school where math and science are not our students' favorite subject. I want to change that by taking something kids already love, Legos, and showing them how fun math and science can be! Many of our kids have never thought about going to college or becoming an engineer. Help me challenge them to raise their expectations! We have so many smart students at our school who just do not have the resources they need to help them be successful learners. This project can expose them to experiences and people they cannot get anywhere else.

My Project: By providing this kit for our robotics team, you will be helping children not only raise their math and science skills, but also their self esteem and self confidence. With our kit, we can join in FIRST robotics competitions and set an awesome example for the rest of our school, inspiring others to reach higher! The basic NXT Mindstorms kit can be used over and over again, each year, which also provides for future students. Help make a difference in the lives of some amazing kids!

Helping my students discover that math and science can be accessible and fun will not only help my kids learn, it will also help raise their test scores. Higher scores can open the door to new opportunities. You hold the key in your hands!

DONATE HERE
Donations of ANY size can make a BIG difference!
FIRST has announced The 2011 Food Factor Challenge for the LEGO League competition. Teams will build, test, and program an autonomous robot using LEGO Mindstorms NXT to solve a set of food safety missions. In addition, each team will research, develop and  present their solutions to improve current food preparation processes. Below you can watch a clip from The 2010 Body Forward Challenge Qualifier Event in the Arlington-Dallas region.





  BONUS Project #1: When the main project is finished, let's work on this one.
Project: The Hungry Little Caterpillar Experience

Resources Needed: painted lady butterfly kit, poster, and puppet
School Poverty Level: High
Location: J L Lomax Elementary School, Valdosta, GA
Total Cost: $115.86
Still Needed: $68.45
Expires: Nov 20, 2011

Teacher's Comments from Ms. S:

My Students: Do you have a favorite science experiment that was done when you were in school? I know I do! My students have not had the opportunity to witness a life changing science experiment. This activity will change their lives forever as well as teach them the importance of the life cycle of a butterfly.

My students are amazing! They are full of wonder and love to learn new things through science experiments. They attend a low income elementary school where every child in the school receives free lunch. There is not a lot of parental support that allows them to travel, visit places, or see new interesting things. They are always thankful for the things that they receive from the community and are very grateful as they do not receive much from parents or guardians. This would show the students that someone cares about them and they would be filled with joy!

See the rest of Mrs. P's statement and DONATE HERE.

Housekeeping:

A big thank you to lineatus and Dawn Chorus for hosting us last week. Our main project, Is That A Rat Skull In That Owl Pellet? was completed!

We also rescued bonus project #1, Owls Do What?, and bonus project #2, Support My Budding Scientists!!

Many thanks to all contributors! You can see the teachers' thank-you notes at the links above.

See our list of successfully funded projects. We're up to 130!

When projects are not fully funded by their expiration date, donors are contacted by DonorsChoose and asked to choose another project to which to redirect their donations.

More information:
DonorsChoose.org main page
DonorsChoose.org blog
DonorsChoose.org donor FAQ
All DonorsChoose.org math & science projects search results

We are in no way affiliated with DonorsChoose.org, or any of the classroom projects presented for funding.

Originally posted to The Inoculation Project on Sun Sep 11, 2011 at 07:02 AM PDT.

Also republished by J Town.

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