IAF Sixth Annual School Supply Fund Drive-Science!
Have you got four minutes? That is all the time you will need to read this missive and understand our goals for this year’s school supply fund drive.
For the past five years, the IAF has conducted an annual school supply fund drive, focused on Des Moines’ neediest children. Last year’s drive garnered a record level of support with $2356, but one experience served as a catalyst for change in how we approach our goal this year.
Toward the latter weeks of our 2016 fund drive, an out of state anonymous donor offered an additional $500, with one caveat: the entire amount must be spent on “science”. Judging from prior fund drives, this was a generous donation, so we explored the needs of several DMPS schools, with an eye on the neediest schools and “science.” We ultimately purchased and donated two quality, classroom-adaptable microscopes: specifically, the “OMAX 40X-2500X Lab Binocular Compound LED Microscopes, with Double-layer Mechanical Stage and Digital Camera.” Both scopes are still used on an almost every-day basis by the science teachers at Hiatt Middle School here in Des Moines. And one of the things we noticed when delivering the scopes was need; the equipment our donation replaced was outdated, to say the least. We also took note of the reception we received; the teachers were surprisingly grateful and appreciative. From that point, we decided to focus our efforts on closing the gap between DMPS science departments, with sadly deficient budgets, and schools outside the district who appear to be far more fortunate. After working with the science curriculum department at DMPS, an effort that included interviewing several science teachers, we were able to identify several areas of need that seem to fit within our fund budget.
TELESCOPES: Nothing is more “science” than a telescope that enables students to search the heavens for what is really up there. The Orion Astroview 90mm EQ Refractor Telescope is surprisingly affordable – about $279.00 plus shipping. The director of the DMPS science curriculum department explained that “we offer astronomy courses at several of our high schools that would benefit from direct space observations.” About three hundred bucks would help open the minds and opportunities of close to 100 kids in one east-side middle school alone.
And should our drive be even more successful, another scope that would serve teachers and students even more is the Coronado Personal Solar Telescope (Hydrogen alpha) with 1A Bandwidth. This scope, costing about $700.00, enables solar viewing during daylight hours, expanding learning to many inner-city kids who lack the means to travel after-hours.
MICROSCOPES: The committee’s research into DMPS science needs revealed two things: first, the extent to which teachers are doing their best to teach with outdated equipment and miniscule budgets is astounding. Teachers really do reach into their own pockets for some of the basic tools for the classroom. And secondly, for quality science equipment to benefit kids, it should ideally benefit teachers also, and be classroom-adaptable. One such scope that would benefit many students is the Leica EZ4 W, an “educational stereo microscope with digital cameras” that allows students to electronically connect their personal electronic devices to the scope. Utilized for biology, earth sciences, environmental science, and chemistry, the cost is about $505.00 plus shipping.
STREAM TABLE: Not being teachers, we were unfamiliar with this device, but it would appear to be particularly suited to Iowa. The “Science First Deluxe Stream Table” is a classroom tool for teaching earth sciences, including study of erosion, sediment deposition, behaviors of rivers and lakes, applications to agriculture, etc. One teacher told us “most teachers would change how they teach if they got one of these.” The cost is $549.00. The potential for benefitting many, many DMPS students is enormous.
SYNOPSIS: When considering this year’s school fund drive, think “science.” Please be as generous as you can afford to be. Help us teach DMPS kids what is really “up there” through a good telescope; help literally hundreds of young people learn about the true composition of matter with a quality microscope; give an entire science department a quality Stream Table, and teach a hundred kids about “earth science.” SCIENCE is part of what IAF is all about and the IAF will match donations up to $1000!
Thanks so much,
IAF 2017 School Fund Drive Committee
P.S. The donation phase of the campaign will run from Sept 15- Oct 15. Presentation of the science equipment to the DMPS system will be on Carl Sagan Day, Nov 9, 2017.