It's no secret that I love a good pedagogy discussion or idea, something new to try in my classroom, so it should be no surprise that when there was some discussion on SciFund Challenge and other spaces about crowd-funding as a novel source for filling the gap that's so often left between what we have in the class and what we need in the class that I would jump on board. The possibility of challenging my students to engage in original research and integrate their own learning alongside science communication?
Hot d*mn, that sounds like fun!
And more importantly, that sounds like a recipe for an extraordinarily awesome experience for this semester's class, and a chance to improve the available materials for classes to come.
So I took the chance.
I'm still taking that chance, really. I have a crowd-funding proposal going on for the next few days (until 26th March), to raise some funds for my students' project. And when I say "I," I mean my students. They wrote it. They made the budget. They've been working on the protocols. With my help, sure, but they're the primary content drivers in this project, I just gave them the assignment and the support to do what they're doing.
And what they're doing, quite frankly, is pretty freaking cool. We're surveying the biological diversity (or how many and what type of organisms) on KSU Trumbull campus. This has been done at the KSU Stark campus by Matthew Lehnert and some of his students, and I might be expanding this work to the main campus with an Upward Bound class this summer (depends on whether or not I get that job).
Some other stuff my students are working on can be seen on our Digital Research Symposium website. Right now, it's last semester's work that is up, but I'll be adding this semester's batch this weekend. If you appreciate quality education, if you believe in students as capable and creative thinkers able to take agency in their own research endeavors, if you think that research can act as a catalyst to solid learning, then go check out what we're doing, and maybe make a contribution.