The ScienceMobile will be a lab on the coolest set of wheels, bringing fun, creative and engaging science to underprivileged children.
The ScienceMobile will be a lab on the coolest set of wheels, bringing fun, creative and engaging science to underprivileged children. Read more
About this project
Help fund the Sciencemobile! With your help, my children and I will be taking a rusty old Volkswagen bus and converting it to a mobile science lab. The goal is to create a science station on wheels that we can drive around to different underprivileged neighborhoods in Sacramento, bringing very cool, fun and engaging labs to kids who may not otherwise experience science in such a way.
Where Your Funding Goes
The money raised will be dedicated to restoring an old VW bus into top running order, decked out with the basics (excellent engine, sink, stove, storage) and some cool extras (pop-top, PA sound system, fold-out table and awning, rock-solid organizational system for all the experiments, etc.). Additionally, funding will cover all the necessary science supplies and hopefully a bit of fuel for the neighborhood visits!
Specifically, funding raised with this campaign will cover:
1. Purchase of the bus
2. Restoration of the body and engine, depending on the bus purchased.
3. Paint, upgrades (see above)
4. Outfitting the bus with science equipment and supplies
We'd like to convert something like this...
To something like this...
This will not be a business, nor will we be selling any type of service or product. This is our community service project, free to anyone and everyone, with the hopes of stimulating the interest and imagination of our blooming youth.
To give you a bit of background, and assuage your apprehension in the plausibility of this unusual venture, allow me to offer some personal information. I have been engaged in serving my community in many ways over the last few years, with activities ranging from aiding transitional housing residents to create a vegetable garden, becoming a member of a task force to help solve an acute homeless encampment problem in our city, creating and running a ridiculously successful children's dance-along at a local community center, starting and presiding over a neighborhood association in an overlooked and aging community, and helping create a homeschool collective that provides a stimulating educational environment for struggling students, to give some examples. More recently, my children and I developed and ran a free craft booth at a farmer's market in an underprivileged neighborhood last summer where we created an environment of artistic, and later scientific, creativity and expression for kids who are not given many such opportunities.
As for my experience teaching science, not only have I been engaged in educating college students at both the community and university college levels for the past six years, but I have had extensive involvement in teaching science to youth. I have developed and implemented curriculum for elementary biology, food science, and general science, and have created very engaging and active labs to capture the interest of these children.
We have a lot of labs that we'll be doing over the summer and potentially fall, so I don't want to bore you with so many details. Nonetheless, I could describe some of the more popular ones. We have a chemical and physical explosions lab (harmless) where we explore different types of explosions, all in a fun and messy context. For example, we try out different ways to pop a balloon (mechanical with water or air pressure, and chemical with carbon dioxide generated from a chemical reaction, etc), look at acid-base chemical reactions and use them to explode the lid off film canisters, and explore the effects of high pressure on water bottles (water bottle rockets). We have a polymers lab that is extremely messy, as the young scholars learn about the characteristics of polymers by making their own silly putty, playing with oobleck (baking soda/water semi-solid), melting Styrofoam with acetone, and turning simple sugar into stretchy taffy. Another popular lab is our color mixing experiments. The students learn the simple concepts of color mixing with finger paints, use prisms to see the full color spectrum, learn the true primary colors (red, yellow and green) and mix the light rays of each, play a fun game to learn how light reflects or is absorbed to give us what we see, and create a color spinning wheel both to show the full color spectrum from black and white, and to see the reverse, black and white from the color spectrum. Again, we have an entire summer's line-up in store for our anticipated neighborhood tours, but these are just to give you an idea of what we do.
Although we are hoping to touch your altruistic heart and inspire you to help us fund our project, we know you love your kickbacks! We've designed a pretty cool logo which, with your generous contribution, can become an accessory for your car, can be added to your patch quilt, or can become high fashion as you proudly wear it around town.
Our Sciencemobile will have plenty of road time, so consider contributing at the $500 level which cements your company logo on the vehicle proper as a sponsor of the project. Or bring the Sciencemobile to your next event! If you'd rather enjoy some good food, drinks and science without kids, join us for an adults-only summertime party with great music, dancing and experiments! Or as a millenary backer, dress up in your most elegant and learn while tasting some intriguing molecular gastronomy (fancy food science).
There are plenty of rewards to choose from, depending on your interest and depth of pocket. I sincerely hope you consider helping us get this van rolling!
A Special Thanks...
I wanted to take a moment and give credit where credit is due! All of the following supporters have generously donated their time and talent to the launching of this project: A special thanks to Mattias Kayler, a very talented homeschooled high-school junior who created the amazing video! My utmost gratitude to Ben Della Rosa who put together a fantastic logo. A huge appreciation to Justin at Kombi Haus, Sacramento's own VW repair and restoration shop, who not only lent me his time, his ear, and his expert advice on the possibility of such an unusual venture, but also the use of the lovely vintage van that appeared in the video. Thank you to all my wonderful faces that gleamed scientific curiosity for the video: all the children in our Wondertree Homeschool Collective, the youth in my Science Club, and my microbiology students at CRC. And lastly, but perhaps most significantly, thank you to all my family and friends who've helped bring the idea into a potential reality through the launch of this campaign. My deepest love and appreciation.
Risks and challenges
Once we receive funding, we will need to secure the vehicle (we have our sights on one, but not our hands yet), send it to the shop for a makeover, purchase all our science supplies, then get moving! We plan to have this as a summer project, so we need to have no delays in this plan. However, we do know that sometimes the unexpected happens. The most unstable variable in our plan is the renovation of the vehicle. Depending on the condition of the bus that we finally acquire, this step could take anywhere from a couple of weeks to months!! Yes, I have looked at the calendar and realize that in the case of the latter, our hopes of a summer mobile will be almost dashed. So, we will be spending a great deal of time during this fundraising stage, lining everything up that needs to get done and work with our local VW restoration shop to put together a dialed-in timeline and work order.
As for the more tangible kickbacks, once the project is funded, the supplies are purchased, and the bus in is the shop, we will begin assembling your rewards in as timely a manner as possible.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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