Kyle McElroy is a graduate student at the University of Iowa who has been working with the Science Booster Club program since the summer of 2015. This is a blog post about his recent experiences in Des Moines.

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This fall, thanks to the generosity of our donors and supporters, we were able to provide ten science teachers with equipment they need to give their students a chance to experience science for themselves. Our conversations with teachers across the state of Iowa during our pilot phase, and now nationwide since our national expansion, indicate that many teachers lack the scientific equipment they need to teach even basic scientific principles, much less complex concepts like evolution and climate change.

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Hurray for the SBC crew!

“Look at all of that Iowa,” a dear friend said to me, measuring the state with his thumb and pointer finger on his Google Map app. “You could come with me.”

As you all know, I got my start with the NCSE Science Booster Clubs and NCSE itself in Iowa City, Iowa, and I am pretty sure that the state will always have a soft spot in my heart.

So when my friend put out the call for a road trip buddy, I couldn’t help but note that the route to his new job in California was pretty well aligned with the sites of several of NCSE Science Booster Clubs. Thus a professional road trip was born!

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Want to do some science?

If you’ve been following this blog, you’ll know that Science Booster Club volunteers rarely encounter open conflict even when we bring evolution and climate change activities to religiously and politically conservative areas.

But the truth is, doing this work is hardly problem-free. As we’ve expanded into increasingly socially, religiously, and politically conservative territory, we do come up against a variety of pressures. Of course, as a social being, I care deeply about feeling accepted just like anyone else. So do the people who come to our events­. People don’t want to avoid only outright violence and conflict. Some of our most painful encounters instead involve shame and rejection. When it comes to having conversations about uncomfortable topics, as an SBC leader, I have to be sure to be aware that the people I meet might expect rejection or condescension from someone identifying as a scientist. And I have to guard against reacting to what I perceive as hostility with defensiveness.

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Julia Dent Grant with micro-Grants, 1854, via Wikimedia CommonsSeptember is fast approaching—which means it’s time for our third annual back-to-school microgrant cycle. Every year NCSE’s Science Booster Club program uses the funds we raise to buy durable equipment for science teachers.

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I spent last week at the National Science Teachers Association’s Summer Congress. This was my first Summer Congress, as I was recently elected to NSTA’s Board as the Division Director of Research in Science Teaching.
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James Tissot, The Farewell, via Wikimedia CommonsOn May 19, 2017, a little more than two years after I started building what would become the Science Booster Club program here in Iowa, I participated in my last local event. At the Iowa City Public Library’s STEAM fest, we interacted with around two thousand people on the topic of climate change.
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