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Bonnie Ripley
Home » People » Bonnie Ripley » Biology Outside the Classroom

Biology Outside the Classroom

-->This page has topics related to lifelong learning (museum visits, citizen science) and good citizenship based on biology knowledge,  including topics in Sustainability and Personal Health and Wellness. Keep scrolling down to find different topics!

Plant a Tree.  Got an extra dollar?  You can plant a tree in the Amazonian rain forest and help combat global climate change through the Plant a Billion project. If you own a home, you can plant trees in the strip between the sidewalk and street if you follow guidlines from the Urban Forestry division of the City of San Diego.  Sometimes there are free tree plantings available.  On your own property, plant as many trees as makes sense to you. Get advice from your neighborhood nursery.

Join a Society.  For anything you are interested in, there is a group somewhere for you to geek out with like-minded folks whether you are an amateur enthusiast or a tenured professor.  

Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Honor Society.  Although this is also a formal society for research professionals, anyone is welcome to join as an Affiliate Circle Member (only $35/yr for students).  Membership gives you access to the excellent journal American Scientist, allows you to participate in local, regional and national meetings, connect with potential mentors and find job openings on their web site, and sign up for a  daily Science In the News briefing. 

San Diego Mycological Society. Interested in all things related to fungi?  People in this group meet up to learn to identify different species, go foraging for specimens, prepare mushroom-based foods, make mushroom-related arts & crafts, coordinate educational activities, learn about medicinal and nutritional fungal products and even sometimes hear lectures by real scientists. Their motto is "We put the fun in fungi!" Look for announcements about the annual Fungus Fair in Balboa Park in February.

Volunteer with the local branch of one of these organizations: Surfrider Foundation, Nature Conservancy, Sierra Club, Audubon Society, or California Native Plant Society. Find lots of  other projects that need help at where you can search by your zip code for projects in your neighborhood and interest areas.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Go beyond cans and bottles by participating in the sharing economy. Exchange unwanted items with others for free at or in the free section on Craig's List. Find "access not ownership" companies (like Zip Car) to support at Collaborative Consumption and Mesh.

Participate in Citizen Science. Citizen Science uses crowd-sourcing to collect information. This link takes you to a national directory of  Citizen Science projects that you can participate in and contribute to real, meaningful research. Another example is the Plankton Portal, which trains you to identify and measure plankton species so that you can contribute to the work of identifying the hundreds of thousand of images they have. Scroll to the bottom of this page to find links to other Zooniverse citizen science projects....

Join the Maker Movement. Maker Spaces are places where people can go to learn, tinker, collaborate and invent using shared resources (like expensive tools) and knowledge.  There is a hands-on biotech lab in the La Jolla Library called Bio Lab. There is also the Innovation Lab at the Central Library downtown. Both of these host classes and workshops as well as having open lab hours and programs for kids. The annual Maker Faire in San Diego takes over Balboa Park in October each year for people to show off how and what they make--ranging from craft beer to robots. There are many small spaces that come and go around San Diego (search in Google to find these0, but one of the most long-standing and well organized is the Fab Lab (for Fabrication) downtown. They offer lots of classes including things like making your own light saber! 

Keep Learning! 

Visit the Natural History Museum, Zoo, and Aquarium here in San Diego and any other locations that you can. The Monterey Bay Aquarium is worth a visit, for example.

Read about topics in biology--click here for an annotated bibliography of suggestions.

Watch Nature and Nova on PBS and other TV shows and documentaries about science (keeping in mind that not all are unbiased and factually accurate).

Browse web pages of organizations whose mission is education.  I recommend Union of Concerned Scientists for big picture political/economic/environmental issues.

Attend seminars at local institutions of higher learning!  Below are some links to seminar schedules. These are public events so don't feel shy about stopping in.  Faculty from all over the nation (and world) visit San Diego to meet with collaborators; these seminars are great ways to get a chance to meet potential summer fellowship mentors and/or graduate advisors.

Register to Vote and Vote.   Its a right and a privilege.  Use it.  Any information you might need, including registration, polling places and reasonably unbiased analysis of issues/candidates can be found with the League of Women Voters webpage.  Men are welcome here as well--don't let the name put you off!

Donate Blood Regularly.  You can help save lives.  Find out where and when to donate with the San Diego Blood Bank.  Latino donors are especially needed!

Be an Organ Donor.  Register with the DMV to get the pink dot on your driver's license so that if you are killed in an accident your no-longer-needed body organs can help save someone's life. NOTE: This does not "donate your body to science" for other types of research or as a whole cadaver. Info on registering for whole body donation can be found with the Human Tissue Authority

Join the Bone Marrow Registry.  Save someone's life.  Be The Match organizes the national bone marrow donation program. Once you register and submit a cheek swab or blood sample, your "type" will be entered as available for possible donation.  Non-Anglo volunteers are especially needed!

Get Vaccinated!  Part of the way vaccines work is that if most people have them, the disease can't infect the population.  That's why its important that most people get the vaccines.  Find more information about how vaccines work and which ones to get from the CDC. Make sure your health records are up to date as well as your children's or family members.


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