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EvoEcoLab

Explorations and ideas at the intersection between Evolution and Ecology

I AM SCIENCE: The Stories of the 99% (of Scientists)

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It has been just 45 days since I wrote about my nontraditional pathway into science at Deep Sea News. This post and the resulting hashtag #IamScience on Twitter resulted in an explosion of stories from 140 character tweets to several hundred blog posts from an enormously diverse group of online scientists. The resulting Storify of the tweets include 821 tweets from 628 individuals. I am very proud of the community for rising up the challenge and am honored to be the instigator!

The stunning response is what motivated me to apply for Kickstarter funding in order to weave together the stories of scientists - of whom represent an enormous diversity of backgrounds and pathways - into a freely available resource that I hope inspires those who think they can't do science and give hope to those who are really struggling in their journey. Clearly, the community agreed and in just over 24 hours after I opened up the virtual doors, my bare bones funding goal $3,500 was exceeded. After the euphoria wore off, I then put out a call to try and raise $10,000 for this project. Again, the response has been overwhelming and we about 57% of the way there!

When I asked for $3,500, that was what I needed to devote either a month full time, or 2 months part time to this project to get out quickly. But it really represented a minimum to get it done. It would pay for my time (detracted from other paying freelance gigs) and a little leftover to pay for hard copies for backers and send a few books out to school libraries in inner cities. The ultimate goal was always to produce a readable, well-enough-designed e-book that could be available on the Kindle, iPad, Nook systems as well as a pdf for anyone. But it is apparent to me that many of the people who really need to read these stories of nontraditional pathways into a science career do not have access to some or all of these technologies. Therefore, I feel it is imperative to seed as many struggling schools as possible with a hard copy of I AM SCIENCE in their libraries for kids to uncover and teachers and guidance counselors to point students to.

With $10,000, we can do a lot of seeding and I can hire some artists to make the project more engaging and exciting. Some artists are able to volunteer their efforts for the project since it is not intended to make me rich by any stretch of  the imagination. But, I strongly feel that creativity should be compensated, even if only a little bit, and especially if that is how people are trying to make their living. Therefore, I hope to be able to some of these funds to compensate one or two artists for designing the cover and bringing these stories to life in some accessible way. That can't happen unless we reach our goal.

With 9 days left to go, we've raised nearly $5,700 and that will go a LONG ways, but with your help we can go even longer! I hope you can find a few dollars so that we can hopefully make a difference in the lives of more high schoolers from inner cities, rural communities and native American reservations. And if you have a story that you'd like to tell, I would love to hear from you. I can maintain complete anonymity or pseudonymity throughout if you wish. Either submit a blog post or tumblr entry to me personally or through Twitter with the #IamScience hashtag, or send me an email at kzelnio at gmail. You read other stories at the I AM SCIENCE Tumblr where I am keeping track of interesting tweets, news, stories and blog/tumblr submissions.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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