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Blog all about it

UF scientist uses blogging site to raise money for science teachers

By Elizabeth Behrman

UF researcher Brian Krueger started a science blog and networking site. His bloggers are now helping Donors Choose, an online charity that organizes donations for science education equipment.

Brian Krueger, Ph.D., is blogging the way for science education.

Krueger, a postdoctoral associate in molecular genetics and microbiology in the UF College of Medicine, created the science news and blog networking site LabSpaces. Together, he and his team of about 25 bloggers are participating in a donation drive to benefit DonorsChoose, an online charity for education, and are promoting teachers’ individual projects to help collect donations.

Teachers across the country can post their classroom needs and class project ideas to the DonorsChoose website, listing the necessary supplies, from fish aquariums and weather stations to white boards and bookbags. So far this year, DonorsChoose has raised $20 million for teachers across America, with more than $450,000 going to Florida teachers. DonorsChoose approached Krueger about helping promote the annual “donation drive” through the month of October, and Krueger immediately agreed, he said.

Ten of the LabSpaces bloggers each chose at least one project from DonorsChoose and are promoting them through their posts and linking to the donation pages. The rest of the writers, including Krueger, are trying to garner support for all of the other bloggers’ chosen projects.

“It doesn’t matter who gets the donation, it’s more the donation that’s important,” he said.

Some of the class projects chosen by LabSpaces writers include supporting a spring science fair and providing a class with equipment for experiments.

Krueger said he hopes to have raised $4,000 through LabSpaces by Nov. 10, when the drive finishes. He said by the end of October, about $30,000 had already been raised collectively by the science blogging community. Additionally, Hewlett-Packard is matching all donations made through the science blogging pages.

After Krueger sent out an e-mail about the site to College of Medicine faculty and staff, LabSpaces’ selected projects garnered an additional $250 in donations.

Krueger started LabSpaces in 2005, when he was still an undergraduate student at Bradley University. He received his doctorate in December from the University of Iowa, and when he isn’t blogging, he’s in the lab, working on mutating herpes viruses to better understand how they function.

“Usually during my Christmas break I’d try to spend a week or two learning something new,” he said.

LabSpaces started as one of those Christmas projects. He started actively recruiting bloggers just within the past several months, and the site has expanded to include blog posts about different science-related topics, from advising recent university graduates to performing general lab experiments.

When he started the website, Krueger began by posting science and research-related press releases and breaking them down to make them easier for readers to understand.

“The scientist may say one thing, but the press release source and the media sometimes misinterpret or overstate what the scientist has done,” Krueger said. “I’m trying to create a website for scientific outreach, basically so the public can see what scientists do, why we do it and why what we do is important.”