A Maryland high school environmental club uses a grant from NCSE's Science Booster Club to transform an overgrown garden into an oasis of native plants and beauty, drawing in the surrounding community to help along the way.

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The opportunity to directly engage with people in Iowa about climate change and evolution just got a whole lot easier with a $270,000 three-year grant from the Carver Charitable Trust.

The great success of the Science Booster Club Program and the new grant are strong testaments to the power of creating deep partnerships between academic institutions and nonprofit organizations.

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As you might have heard, the primary goal of NCSE’s Science Booster Club program is to bring evolution and climate change education to public spaces. But that’s not all! Booster Clubs raise funds and use the proceeds to fund teacher grants. This fall we were able to accept grant requests from any teacher in a state where we have a booster club, making for an especially competitive funding cycle.

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In 2017, NCSE’s Science Booster Club program expanded nationally, providing free, engaging educational opportunities to more than 120,000 people in ten states: Iowa, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Virginia, Ohio, West Virginia, Indiana, Maryland, Tennessee, and Texas. Our teacher micro-grant program also went national, with grant opportunities expanding beyond Iowa to all the states where booster clubs are active. Booster club members locally raised and awarded ten micro-grants to teachers in six states. These local fundraising efforts allowed teachers to purchase basic equipment such as scales and thermometers, which their districts could not afford to purchase, to enhance their science education experiences. In all, 3,400 students had enriched science learning experiences because of the impact of the micro-grants.

Those of us who coordinate the science booster clubs are inspired by the number of individuals, supporting organizations and institutions, as well as local businesses that came forward this past year to directly support the science booster clubs in their communities. We’d like to thank everyone who supported our grassroots community events, many of which were in Iowa. My sincere hope is that our work in Iowa will provide a national model for growth and change. As we have seen through the success of our national expansion, that process has already begun.

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2017 has been a great year for the Science Booster Club Program. Thanks to the support of our donors, the efforts of our volunteers, and the enthusiasm of our staff, we’ve succeeded in our national expansion. From serving over 50,000 people in Iowa in 2016, we’re scheduled to serve over 120,000 people across ten states in 2017. As you can see in the map below, we are working in a broad, largely connected area stretching from Nebraska to the Eastern seaboard.

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One of the most satisfying components of the NCSE Science Booster Club program is its microgrant program, in which some of the funds raised by the booster clubs are given away to teachers so that they can provide their students with more hands-on science experiences. In my last blog post, I wrote about some of the teachers who received basic measurement equipment through the Fall 2017 SBC microgrant program.

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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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