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This 78 card Science Tarot Deck is a game of cards that helps us tell stories about our future based on principles of science.
This 78 card Science Tarot Deck is a game of cards that helps us tell stories about our future based on principles of science.
308 backers pledged $19,063 to help bring this project to life.

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$19,063

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Wow!! We reached our first stretch goal of $15,000! We're adding a Learning Outcomes Guidebook for Educators and make this accessible to all backers. This will help you use the deck as a historical and scientific learning tool in your classroom. We'll create this in conjunction with STEM K-12 educators so that it's relevant to K-12 curricula.

Now we're shooting for a super-stretch goal of $20,000 and we think we can do it! If we reach $20,000, all of our backers will get a BONUS poster with their choice of a scientific major arcana illustration. These illustrations are amazing (check out the Updates tab for some that Matteo has recently finished!) and we'd love to send them to everybody.

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My name is Nadja Oertelt. I'm a science media producer and a cofounder of the science publication Massive. Illustrator, researcher and neuroscientist Matteo Farinella and I are excited to announce a science card game project we've been working on for over a year, which began as a web series called Our Science Heroes

The Women of Science Tarot Deck channels the powerful, pioneering women of STEM alongside fundamental concepts in science, math, engineering and technology to help you tell stories about the future. The deck is a fun way to learn about our past and think about ways of tackling the big problems that await us as a species.

The Tarot deck has been used since the 15th century as a framework for communal storytelling, soothsaying and prediction. We’ve updated our tarot to reflect our scientific, 21st century curiosity for shaping the world. The most transformative ways of thinking are not magic: they are real, rooted in STEM and they can help us collectively think about the future.

Tarot decks are traditionally composed of 78 cards: 56 minor arcana (14 cards x 4 suits - which can be used as regular playing cards) + 22 major arcana (representing universal concepts and ideals). Our deck will feature a historical STEM icon on each of the minor cards and a fundamental scientific concept on each of the major cards (i.e. love = gravitational force).

Initial card design (mock-ups)
Initial card design (mock-ups)

The wisdom of lauded, forgotten, powerful and unknown visionaries in fields spanning the scope of human endeavor are captured in this new card game. Women who have shaped the way we see the world, create it, and imagine it appear on cards fashioned after traditional Tarot decks.  Ask the cards and the women a question and use their knowledge of the four spheres of inquiry—the Nano, the Micro, the Macro and the Astro—to construct the answers that can guide you in your life or us a species.  

What will the world be like tomorrow? What new directions should you direct your mind and your work? How could we best tackle rising seas? What is the biggest impediment to solving complicated problems in AI? Use discoveries and paradigms in math, engineering, physics, chemistry, microbiology, genetics, medicine, organismic biology, ecosystems, climate science, earth science, geology, astrophysics and cosmology to guide you. We can't predict the future, but we believe that learning about science and telling the stories of inspiring women in STEM can help us imagine a better world and explore radical new futures, rooted in scientific ideas.

A Massive Project

Your support will help Matteo and the Massive team finish the following by July 2019:

 1. Illustrating and designing the second half of the 78 card deck. We need your help to continue to pay for Matteo's time in completing the second half of the deck, Allan's time designing the final cards based on Matteo's drawings, and printing the first 500 limited edition run of cards. Some of the cards have been published as part of the Massive web series Our Heroes (and we'll continue to publish a selection of new cards and stories) but we need your help to finish the remaining cards. Matteo is designing the major arcana cards, which we'll share with backers as we progress. 

Early drawings and design for major arcana cards
Early drawings and design for major arcana cards

We've built out the four suits of the minor arcana, which will symbolize different realms of science, technology, engineering and math.   

  •  Nano is the suit of the invisible (i.e. math, electrical engineering, physics, computer science)
  •  Micro is the suit of the cell (i.e. chemistry, microbiology, virology, genetics, medicine)
  •  Macro is the suit of the system (i.e. organismic biology, ecology, oceanography, earth sciences, civil engineering, robotics)
  •  Astro is the suit of that beyond the human scale (i.e. geology, astrophysics, cosmology, astronomy)  

 2. Writing and designing the explanatory pamphlet and guidebook for using the card deck. We want this deck to be more than a collectable item or a party game: we hope it will be a useful tool for science teachers. We need your help supporting the research, writing and editing that is necessary to create a general guidebook (Science Tarot Explained) for play. A secondary, in-depth curriculum-driven guidebook for K-12 teachers is a stretch goal (see below).  

FAQ

Is this science? No, it's a game. 

Tarot is not a science. You're right! It's a game. For fun, and coincidentally, learning. There's a great, long history of card games as tools for communal storytelling. 

Why are you fouling the pristine objectivity of science with women and magic? At Massive we've learned and are constantly testing the impact of science media presented in different formats and styles. We know from our experience, and from the vast trove of research on effective science communication, that science stories centered on human experience and stories with emotional valence have greater impact on audiences. We want people who use this deck to learn about the history of science, and think creatively about how we can learn from the discoveries and failures, eureka moments and mistakes of the past to inform our future research and decision-making processes...as a species. 

Why are you doing this? Our main goal as science communicators is to get people excited about science, to make science a more inclusive space, and to give people a sense of agency in scientific spaces. We want people to prioritize scientific thinking in their own lives and in their communities. We want people to do more research, to ask questions, and to remain curious. We don't think creativity, storytelling, magical thinking and scientific thinking are totally disparate subjects. Neither did Jacob Bronowsky, Richard Feynman, Alan Turing, Marvin Minsky or Oliver Sacks. 

Card mockups
Card mockups

Our Team

Matteo Farinella received a PhD in neuroscience from University College London  in 2013. Since then he has been combining his scientific expertise with  a life-long passion for drawing, producing educational comics,  illustrations and animations. He is the author of Neurocomic (Nobrow 2013) published with the support of the Wellcome Trust, Cervellopoli (Editoriale Scienza 2017) and The Senses  (Nobrow 2017). He has worked with universities and educational  institutions around the world to make science more clear and accessible.  Long time collaborators include Massive Science and Science-Practice. His illustrations won the NSF Science Visualization Challenge (2015), and have been featured in exhibitions such as the Society of Illustrators  (2015) and STEAM Within the Panels at the AAAS Art gallery (2017). In 2016 Matteo joined Columbia University as a Presidential Scholar in Society and Neuroscience,  where he investigates the role of ‘visual narratives’ in science  communication. Working with science journalists, educators and cognitive neuroscientists he aims to understand how these tools may affect the  public perception of science and increase scientific literacy. If you want to know more about this project please visit cartoonscience.org

Nadja Oertelt is the CEO of Massive and has worked as a science media producer for over ten years. Massive is an online community and publication for the science curious that works to connect researchers and scientists to the public. Massive trains scientists to become expert science storytellers—helping to make their complex work more easily understood by general audiences. Nadja is a former research scientist, science media producer and documentary filmmaker. She has worked as a researcher in labs at MIT, where she received a BS in Neuroscience in 2007. She's worked as a research assistant at Harvard and Cambridge University, and worked as a producer at Mashable and Buzzfeed. Her work elucidating science for the public has been published in The Atlantic, Vox, and Vice. She has created and produced a number of successful, award-winning animated science series including Neuroscience Animated, Reanimation!, Condensed Matters and Poetry of Perception. She worked at Harvard for almost four years producing one of the first massive open online courses, The Fundamentals of Neuroscience, and raised over $14k using Kickstarter to bring DIY Neuroscience to online learners

Allan Lasser is the CTO of Massive. As a graphic designer and web developer, he's built and directed the visual style of Massive's website and brand since the beginning. His collage illustrations were featured alongside early Massive articles and he's provided art direction for the Science Heroes project. He believes the web can be a beautiful place where people use computers to do better, more often, with less. Between 2014 and 2016, he was the senior designer and lead developer at MuckRock, where he helped ordinary people make sense of public records and led the top-to-bottom redesign of the platform.

Example minor arcana cards
Example minor arcana cards

Rewards

As we design the deck using Matteo's drawings, we'll post updated samples of the following rewards for our backers

  • Limited edition 78-card deck, including packaging
  • Major arcana cards
  • Pamphlet design and copy
  • Posters 
  • Postcard packs
  • Massive sticker packs
  • Limited edition signed drawings
  • Science on Screen reward events

Stretch Goals

  • If we reach $17,000 we'll add a SuperMassive membership for all backers! This will give everyone premium access to Massive's Science Reports and exclusive updates and access to our scientific community. 
  • If we reach $20,000, we'll add an extra reward level: a major arcana poster of your choosing for ALL BACKERS!

Risks and challenges

We've been working on this project for almost a year. Massive has supported the creation of Matteo's illustrations. This Kickstarter is meant to help us turn his illustrations into a physical deck of cards and support the creation of the instructional pamphlet.

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Questions about this project? Check out the FAQ

Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    The Micro Level

    You'll receive updates, your name will be listed as a backer in the Science Tarot Explained pamphlet, and you'll feel unending joy for supporting this project!

    Includes:
    • Your name as a backer in the Science Tarot Explained pamphlet
    • Digital Science Tarot Explained pamphlet
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    Pledge $20 or more About $20

    The Macro Level

    In addition to updates on the project, unending joy, and all previous rewards, you'll also get a pack of sweet Massive Science stickers (stick 'em onto your favorite laptop, notebook, or your lab's mass spectrometer) and a five-card Science Tarot Postcard Pack including beautiful illustrations from the deck (send them to your friends or keep them for yourself).

    Includes:
    • Your name as a backer in the Science Tarot Explained pamphlet
    • Digital Science Tarot Explained pamphlet
    • Massive Science Sticker Pack
    • Science Tarot Postcard Pack
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    Pledge $35 or more About $35

    The Astro Level

    In addition to updates on the project, unending joy, and all rewards from previous tiers, you'll get a large poster celebrating amazing women of science. It's perfect for classrooms and inspirational spaces.

    Includes:
    • Your name as a backer in the Science Tarot Explained pamphlet
    • Digital Science Tarot Explained pamphlet
    • Massive Science Sticker Pack
    • Science Tarot Postcard Pack
    • Women of Science Poster
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  4. Select this reward

    Pledge $45 or more About $45

    The High Priestess Level

    One Limited Edition, signed and numbered deck is yours!! You'll also get updates on the project, unending joy, and all the rewards from previous levels.

    Includes:
    • One limited edition Women of Science Tarot Deck
    • All Astro Level rewards
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    Pledge $75 or more About $75

    The Magician Level

    Take your science tarot storytelling to the next plane of existence with a physical, illustrated pamphlet explaining each card in detail to go alongside your limited edition deck.

    You'll also get updates on the project, unending joy, and the rewards from previous levels.

    Includes:
    • One limited edition Women of Science Tarot Deck
    • Printed Science Tarot Explained pamphlet
    • All Astro Level rewards
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    Limited 37 backers
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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    The Lovers Level

    Like an alchemist, you’ll create two decks from one pledge! You'll get a second Limited Edition, signed and numbered decks are yours, plus a second physical pamphlets explaining each card in detail. This could make for a great gift for that science-obsessed friend of yours, or bring one to the lab to share with your PI.

    Includes:
    • TWO Women of Science Tarot Decks
    • All Astro Level rewards
    • TWO printed Science Tarot Explained pamphlets
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    Pledge $250 or more About $250

    The Empress Level

    You can choose and help us design a scientist card to include in the deck! In addition, you can ask a question of a real-life scientist, and have it answered in a 20 minute video call with Massive.

    You'll also receive all the rewards from the Astro Levels, along with TWO Limited Edition, signed and numbered decks PLUS TWO physical pamphlets explaining each card in detail.

    Includes:
    • Choose and help design a Woman of Science card to be included
    • TWO Women of Science Tarot Decks
    • A 20-minute Q&A call with Massive
    • All Astro Level rewards
    • TWO printed Science Tarot Explained pamphlets
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    Reward no longer available 5 backers
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  8. Select this reward

    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    The Strength Level

    Join the Massive team to attend a 2018/2019 Science on Screen event with one of our partners (movingimage.us/scienceonscreen), where at least one of the team will be in attendance! We will take you out for dinner with this reward level before the event. In addition to choosing a card for the deck, chatting with scientists, and all the Astro Level rewards, you'll also get FOUR Limited Edition, signed and numbered decks with physical pamphlets explaining each card in detail. Amazing!

    Includes:
    • Choose and help design a Woman of Science card to be included
    • Pair of tickets for a 2018/2019 Science on Screen event + dinner
    • FOUR Women of Science Tarot Decks
    • A 20-minute Q&A call with Massive
    • All Astro Level rewards
    • FOUR printed Science Tarot Explained pamphlets
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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    The Star Level

    Bring home a piece of original, signed artwork from Matteo Farinella with this level! Matteo has generously agreed to give away a signed, black and white inked Major Arcana drawing (~9"x12"); this is a limited reward level! You'll also receive all Astro Level rewards and FOUR decks and printed pamphlets.

    Includes:
    • FOUR Women of Science Tarot Decks
    • All Astro Level rewards
    • FOUR printed Science Tarot Explained pamphlets
    • One signed, black + white hand-inked Major Arcana drawing
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    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    The Justice Level

    We will professionally FRAME a piece of original, signed artwork from Matteo Farinella with this level. Matteo has generously agreed to give away a signed, black and white inked Major Arcana drawing (~9"x12"); this is a limited reward level. You'll also receive all Astro Level rewards and EIGHT decks and printed pamphlets (great for classrooms). You can also help us choose and design a card for the deck and ask-a-scientist a question of your choosing in a 20 minute call with Massive!

    Includes:
    • Choose and help design a Woman of Science card to be included
    • A 20-minute Q&A call with Massive
    • All Astro Level rewards
    • One signed, FRAMED hand-inked Major Arcana drawing
    • EIGHT Women of Science Tarot Decks
    • EIGHT printed Science Tarot Explained Pamphlets
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    Pledge $10,000 About $10,000

    The World Level

    There's no reward for this level other than our MASSIVE thanks. It's the choice of pure love.

    Includes:
    • Your name as a backer in the Science Tarot Explained pamphlet
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Funding period

- (30 days)