April 2008

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In our recent interview with Bill Nye, he reminded us that the hardest thing for everyone to understand about the environment is that every single thing you do affects everybody in the whole world.”

Inspired by his words, I decided to replace some lightbulbs in my house with CFLs (compact flourescent lightbulbs). While I have been slowly replacing lightbulbs with CFLs as they burn out, I finally replaced a good number before they were burned out. It also helps that many companies are offering CFLs in different sizes and more attactive casings (i.e. flood lamps, decorative bulbs, etc). Thus, more than 90% of the lightbulbs in my house are now energy efficient.

Many stores will make this conversion easy for you with multi-packs and rebates as well. Energy Star even has a “choose a light” guide for you to help you decide which CFL suits your needs best. Nye suggests finding CFLs of the color you like, but with all things, the higher quality ones are usually more expensive.

Hear Bill Nye’s Opinions on CFLs
at www.nsta.org/laboutloud

So you go to the store and you buy one [compact fluorescent light bulb]. Ok, but if you replace every lamp in your house, or every lamp in the main rooms… Replace every one of those lamps, and you will see your power bill go down… Now there are some whining, unbelievable-freakin’ whiners out there who tell you that we can’t change to compact fluorescents because of the mercury – “there’s no way to get rid of the mercury that’s in those lights and it’s gonna kill everybody.” So let’s keep in mind that it was the year 1951 when American industry went to buying more fluorescent lamps than incandescent lamps. That is to say, if you work at any sort of factory anywhere, they have fluorescent lights – ‘cuz it’s so much cheaper. And so those lights are required by law to be recycled and the mercury recovered. And there are services that recover the lights and recover the mercury. So we just gotta do the same thing for domestic consumers – for people that buy ‘em for their houses. For cryin’ out loud – this is not, if I may, rocket surgery. This is actually a little more complicated that: trying to motivate everyone to do the right thing with regard to their old lamps. And of course it can be done; it’s a metal. Who doesn’t want to recover a metal? It’s valuable, it’s shiny, you can see it – of course you can do it. Download the Podcast

CFL Links:

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With shrinking school budgets, educators might consider looking to grants for project funds. Here are some tips (from the links below and from personal experience) for you if you are thinking of applying for a grant.


  • Make sure your idea fits the grant criteria (location, non-equipment, etc)
  • Look for full grants and mini-grants too
  • May need to become member of professional organization(s) to be considered
  • Grants have two broad categories:
    • New proposals
    • Help to buildup existing projects
  • “Less is more” in proposal
  • Find colleagues as collaborators, community support
  • Look at successful proposals of other grant ideas
  • Find multiple uses of money, if possible
  • Involve students
  • Is your project sustainable beyond funding?
  • Gather ‘writing tools’
  • Success breeds success in grants


  • Use technical writing, not a creative writing style
  • Be clear and concise in writing style
  • Make sure to plan ahead and make the deadline, if not before
  • Display confidence & enthusiasm
  • Do your homework: research, cite studies that support your project
  • “Jargonize” appropriately
  • “Less is More” in writing
  • Develop specific, attainable goals in your project
  • Provide and timeline and a means for evaluation
  • Be prepared to showcase your successes already related to grant
  • Discuss potential problems and pitfalls
  • Consider your funding needs
  • Proofread! Avoid simple typos, misspellings, or awkward formatting
  • Critique your own proposal
  • Have others read your final draft as well
  • Turn in ON TIME (or ahead of time)


  • Some grants will contact you regardless of acceptance
  • Don’t get discouraged – a good idea is still worth doing. Look for other funding, try again next year
  • You may have a perfect idea/application and still get rejected
  • If rejected, ask grantor for comments/suggestions
  • If accepted, make sure to follow criteria for follow-up: report, publicity, etc


Grant Sources (specifically science)

Do you have other ideas, or grant sources to share?