We added a STRETCH GOAL! When we hit it, all Backers pledging $15 or more, will receive a full cast production audiobook of The Energy Wizard!
Performed by students and alumni of the Colorado Springs Conservatory, the audiobook is directed by Jamie Richards with sound editing by Thomas Dawson Jr. of The Commodores.
The additional $2,500 will cover the costs to complete the audiobook and its associated Backer reward fulfillment.
You can hear a sample clip of the audiobook in the first 30 seconds of our Kickstarter Video.
The Light Science Story
Light Science. Get energy from light. Lighten up on energy use. Lighten up on our Earth for our children’s future. Lighten up on our ‘science speak’ for our children’s understanding. See the light?
Hi, I’m John Richards, the author of The Energy Wizard, but this project is a team event. Join the team by becoming a backer. As my fav singer Tina Turner would say 'listen to the story now…'
Nine years ago, after an abrupt end to a 33-year career in sales and sales management, I was free to pursue two passions - renewable energy and neuroscience. Strange bedfellows? Just you wait Alexander Hamilton, just you wait Henry Higgins.
I observed then that the cost of the best selling product in the world, energy, was rising, and that the cost of getting that energy was damaging the earth. At the same time, free clean energy from the sun fell every day onto our own houses.
Today, many wonderful organizations across the world speak to adults about the positive impacts of energy conservation and renewable energy technologies on jobs, on climate, and on the Earth. This speech is exciting but it doesn’t speak enough to children. In schools we have an opportunity to leverage the most terrific of speakers - our science teachers. The Energy Wizard wants to help do that.
Nine years ago, I observed that, in fascinating science fields like neuroscience, genetics, and biology, the words of science were really difficult to understand. I thought we could do better.
Alan Alda also believes in the need to speak clearly about Science. Today, the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science uses improvisation and other theatrical techniques to teach scientists to get better at speaking science.
After those observations, I enrolled in certificate programs in solar electricity and solar heating at a local community college, and started a website to more clearly define the words of neuroscience, biology, psychology, and renewable energy. You can find it at RichardsOnTheBrain.com.
Inspired by our college’s solar mentor, Larry LeDue, a group of like-minded students from the solar program and I, started a small nonprofit to help spread positive words about renewable energy. Ironically, we ended up with a complicated name - American Renewable Energy Awareness Society. Today we use it’s simplified acronym AREAS. Our organization has now evolved to a more directed focus on renewable energy education. The learnings from those certificate programs and from my work with AREAS have informed the science in The Energy Wizard Book.
I write this book to raise kids awareness of light science, but not just while they read it. I want them to retain what they learn. We are subject to so many distractions today and we are threatened by so much information overload that kids need help. Neuroscience has uncovered several key principles of how the brain learns that this book leverages. Specifically, attention, association, and repetition techniques were used to improve kids retention. For example, the book champions the admirable energy superhero characteristics of strength, bravery, tech prowess, and concern for the environment, so readers can associate these with themselves. It connects LED's to save electricity, to save energy, to save money. The fabulously illustrated characters, the graphic novel style, the threat of Dark Energy, the fun kids rap, etc. all capture attention. The superhero demos, the kids rap, the Wizard's Light Science Quiz, the Earthship, the kids light science plan all repeat the core energy learnings.
In order to speak to kids, we need to complete, print, and get this book into their hands. To support this mission, certain reward levels employ a one-to-one giving model where we donate one book for every book earned.
Today, I simply ask that you help me take the case to kids, help them light up, and lighten up on, the Earth. Please join our team and support our project. Interested in the science? Continue reading below.
The story’s kids, Jeremy, a rapping drummer, Sophia, an outspoken dancer, and Jacob, a Shakespeare quoting actor attend an after-school program at a performing arts school called ‘The Conservatory.’
The kids are trying to find ways to help their school save money when they meet The Energy Wizard. He offers to take them on a tour of some magical neighborhood houses to help find ways to save money on energy. Before they’ve gone far, they notice Sophia’s hair going frizzy from static electricity. The villain of the story, a ground-freezing tornado called Dark Energy, is after them.
It doesn’t look good until the energy superhero Kid Savings arrives to help with a special tool. It’s Blaaa…ster time! Once the frost settles, Kid Savings demonstrates how to save money at the Energy Savings House. Next they meet Calora, who powers on her sunlight sword to teach them about solar panels and passive solar at La Casa Solar. Then it’s on to the Solar Electric House where they meet, yes, Solar Electric Girl. But, you can call her Angel. After all she has angel wings with solar cells. Angel explains how to get electricity from sunlight using solar modules and just as she’s about to show how to shoot electricity from her fingers, Sophia’s hair goes nuts again and Dark Energy appears.
After Angel prevails in a skirmish with Dark Energy, the Wizard takes them to the awesome Earthship. It has all the tech from the other houses, including a wind turbine. It’s even half-buried to take advantage of the insulating properties of the ground. The Wizard explains all the tech again as a repetition vehicle for our readers.
The Wizard has a plan for Dark Energy. A final battle determines the fate of the kids, the Wizard, and the community.
The Creative Process - Writing
Thank goodness for Panera and Subway and quiet Colorado trail heads where notes and documents and mind maps and research can be generated! Here's where the neuroscience comes in. A clear problem, a clear threat, and clear solutions along with clearly cool characters like the Energy Wizard, the Energy Superheros, Dark Energy, and some clearly cool rap from Jeremy, Sophia, and Jacob help maintain kids attention.
Readability. 4th and 5th Grade Teachers will appreciate that word length was kept to an average of 4.3 characters on the ATOS and that 3 or more syllable words were kept under 10%. The Fry’s 1000 word list was used to eliminate most words above the Fry’s first 500. Finally, the book was run in 5-page increments to analyze grade level and then reworked until the readability scores ranged from 4th to 5th grade. To be thorough, the analysis was done in ATOS Analyzer, DRP Text Complexity Analyzer, Flesch Reading Ease, Gunning Fog, Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level, Powers Sumner Kearl, the Smog Index, the Linear Write Formula and the Fry’s Graphs. Given the author’s penchant for glossaries, a glossary will be included in The Energy Wizard for new words (including all those related to Light Science) that are not on the Fry’s first 500 word list.
Editing. Ever read a Dr. Seuss book with spelling, punctuation, or grammatical errors? Not likely. That’s because of editors. We are so lucky to have found a great partner in Brooke Simmons Larocca. A former editor of Solar Today magazine, Brooke shows remarkable patience in reviewing every single word, phrase, sentence, and piece of punctuation. But wait, there’s more! It’s making sure that the way the words are put together reflect what the author is trying to say. Sometimes that’s not so easy. There’s more work to be done, but we are in good hands.
The Creative Process - Illustrating
Speaking of good hands, Heather Brockman Lee is an unbelievable talent. After receiving her BA in Fine Art, and after working in a number of industries and mediums (including stained glass, textile design, fiber art, watercolor and encaustic painting), she brought her varied experience and skills together to form a unique style for her first love: Illustration. We are using two phases for this book. The first phase relied on Heather’s vision for the Conservatory kids, the energy superheros, Dark Energy, and the Energy Wizard. It includes the work you saw in the video and on this page. It began with small sketches and collaborative discussions with John.
Next came larger sketches, more collaboration and finally coloration. The initial phase also created a few two-page spreads, first with sketches, then thumbnail sketches of the spread, then full size sketches of the spread. All of these sketches require collaboration and reworking, more collaboration, and more reworking. The final phase takes place when our Kickstarter project meets its goal! It will again rely on Heather’s vision to create a visual interpretation of the words of the story. It builds and then finishes all of the eighteen two-page spreads in the book. When that is done, The Energy Wizard can be sent to the printer. BIG effort, but well worth it to help kids learn. Their book is in good hands.
Here's an example of the coloration for Sophia.
Here’s what we need the money for
High quality Illustration to complete the book. High quality printing, binding, and shipping of the hardcover books to schools. Acquiring and distributing the rewards to all our high quality backers.
Wasn't that an awesome video? The Energy Wizard would like to thank Jamie Richards of New York, for directing it, James Richards of Colorado, for hosting it, Linda Weise and her students at the Colorado Springs Conservatory for providing the venue and appearing in it, Stephen Ochsner, Drew Frady, Tripp Fountain, Shreya Prashant, Jack Walker, and David Musante for their dramatic voice work. We would also like to thank Jonny Harvey and VP Legacies for the masterful shooting and editing work.
We would also like to thank Charlie D’Angelo and Eric Denissen of AREAS for their leadership and feedback throughout the work on The Energy Wizard, and James Richards and Nicole Brajevich for their creation and implementation of our social media campaign.
Risks and challenges
Even though we have a loyal crew of family and friends helping us day in and day out we want to be as transparent as possible. Thus, we have identified some potential risks and challenges to this project:
While the book script is completed, there are some edits on preliminary illustration sketches that still need to be finished before the kickstarter ends. Once the Kickstarter is fully funded, we will move ahead with the final illustration work and put in our printing order so backers will get their books asap.
Some of our customized rewards, like our hand-made cards, may need extra time to accommodate the artist’s schedule. Nevertheless, our current goal amount takes into account labor cost so we can focus energy and time into getting rewards out promptly.
Delay. There may be some unforeseen problem that will slow delivery of the books, prints or other awards to us, which would delay us getting them to you. That is why we’ve built in a margin of error into our delivery expectations.
Printing and binding of the book may not be up to our high quality expectations. This is unlikely, though, since we have chosen our printer carefully.
If something does happen, we will do our best to take care of the situation promptly. There will never be a cancellation on this project. Note work on The Energy Wizard requires no approval or premarket review from an outside company or agency. We want to put our backers first! Please let us know if you have any questions.
As our family in Hawaii would say - Mahalo nui loa
(many thanks and thank you very much)
- (33 days)