The Artful Amoeba is proud to participate in this year's Science Bloggers for Students science classroom fund drive (read more about this year's project at Janet Stemwedel's Doing Good Science blog). A number of Scientific American bloggers are participating, and we're competing against each other and a whole bunch of other blog networks to raise cash for science supplies. If you've been paying any attention to what's been happening to education budgets across the nation this year, you know how critical the situation is in some states.

The projects I chose for my giving page will all help buy microscopes for students with either old or obsolete microscopes or no microscopes at all. If you've experienced the magic of seeing living microorganisms right in front of your eyes, you know what an important experience this can be. I'll never forget the first time I observed Vorticella in microbiology at Cornell, and was stunned to see it retract in an instant like a telephone cord when someone bumped the lab bench on which my microscope sat. That these little guys could respond to stimuli from our world, and in such an astounding way, opened my eyes to the beauty and complexity of the small. Here's a sample for you; if you watch carefully, you can see roundworms (I think) swimming slinkily by as well, along with a host of other interesting beasties.

As awesome as this is, there's nothing like seeing it live and in person (and being surprised by the spontaneous behaviors you see!), so microscopes for schools are a cause I can support with my whole heart.

I've kicked in $10 to get it started -- I'd donate more, but I'm currently "underemployed" as I work on getting my freelance career off the ground and (shh) also on a book proposal. You may be in similar circumstances, but it doesn't matter. Whatever you can give, no matter how small, is great. For the cost of a frozen pizza, you can help spread the magic of biology to kids who wouldn't otherwise get the chance to experience it.

Have a look at the microscope projects I've chosen and select one of your desire. Or give to more than one, or just give at the top of my page to the projects I'm supporting in general. If you're a reader of this blog, it's a cause I know you can get behind. And if you have a competitive streak, you can track how Scientific American is doing against our competition (or you can see how this blog is doing against the other Sci Am bloggers here). Help us represent!