Join NOVA: Make Science for All! (Canceled)
Help NOVA and David Pogue produce a new special, and make NOVA available on more platforms and in more classrooms across America!
Hi there! I’m David Pogue: former New York Times tech columnist, current tech critic at Yahoo Finance, and author of 104 tech books (including the Pogue’s Basics and Missing Manual series).
I'm also a dad, a pianist, a magician, and a life-long learner. In addition, I’ve hosted more than a dozen programs for NOVA, the longest-running science program on American TV.
Along the way, I've gotten the chance to visit incredible places, meet brilliant people, and see amazing science in action. Best of all, I've been able to share it with you!
Bringing science to the public isn’t always glamorous...
...but it is always important, and that's why it's been NOVA's mission for over 40 years.
If we can bring out the excitement, the fun, and even the humor in science, we can make it more accessible to everyone. And that's critical to keeping science as part of our national conversation.
Starting today, we have a chance to continue that mission together.
Join me on NOVA's next adventure as we explore the secret world of molecules—for a new project called Beyond the Elements!
Together, we can bring our discoveries to life with a brand-new television special, rich educational materials, and a cutting-edge VR experience. And we can send it to every public high school in the United States… for free. Ready to get started?
Of COURSE WE DO! Making science more accessible to everyone isn't just a good idea, it's essential to our very survival. Scientific knowledge is what lets us…
(Not to mention such science-enabled inventions as smartphones, emoji, and Snapchat.)
That's why, frankly, we should be worried when we hear statistics like these:
How is this happening?! If science is so essential to a safe, prosperous future, why don't more Americans understand even the most basic scientific concepts?
There are many reasons, but one of them is that science is often inaccessible to the public. To non-experts, science can appear too abstract, intimidating, or unrelatable to feel essential. Many people never get the chance to see science the way science lovers see it: as an incredible key that can unlock the secrets of the universe.
If we want to live in a world that values science, we need to make sure more people can understand and love science. We need more people to experience the wonder of science, and not see it as "too hard" or "just for experts." In short, we need to make science for all. And that’s where NOVA comes in.
For over 40 years, NOVA has been at the forefront of making science more accessible to the public. Since 1973, PBS has aired more than 750 NOVA programs, which have helped millions of people understand and appreciate the importance of scientific thought and discovery. This work hasn't gone unnoticed: NOVA has won countless awards, including numerous EMMY®, Peabody and duPont-Columbia Awards.
Of course, even more important than the awards are the results. Every year, people tell me, and NOVA, about the impact the show has had on their lives. In fact, I've met more than a few scientists who chose their careers because they watched NOVA, and even more kids who tell me that NOVA is the reason they want to become scientists.
NOVA is also an indispensable resource for thousands of science teachers. Across the country, classrooms rely not just on NOVA programming, but on the free learning materials that NOVA creates to help teachers bring science to life. See for yourself:
And NOVA isn't just for students and teachers. It's essential viewing for learners of all ages. When it comes to reach, not many shows can compare to NOVA. Tens of millions of Americans have watched NOVA over the years. In fact...
That’s more than 50 million people. So let's recap:
- We know we need more people to understand and love science.
- We know that NOVA has been helping people discover science for over 40 years.
- We know there's still a lot of work left to do.
And that's where you come in.
Our Kickstarter campaign has four potential goals. The more we raise, the more we'll be able to accomplish.
Our first goal is to fund an exciting new NOVA TV special called Beyond the Elements, hosted by me, David Pogue. It’s a follow-up to Hunting the Elements, one of the most popular NOVA specials ever; you can read more about that further down the page.
Like all NOVA shows, this two-hour TV special will air on all PBS stations. It will also be available online—free to the public, thanks to "viewers (and backers!) like you."
Beyond the Elements tells a great story. There are only about 90 naturally occurring elements in the universe—but they can combine in over 100 million ways to make up everything we know—everything we’ve ever encountered, from the air we breathe to the ketchup we put on our burgers. In this special, I’ll travel the world on a quest to unlock the secrets of molecules, both human-made and natural, from poisons to peppers and everything inbetween.
If you want more details, you can read about…
- Why we chose Beyond the Elements for this crowdfunding campaign
- What Beyond the Elements will cover (further down the page!)
Once we’ve passed $1 million, we’ll be on a race for our second goal: To fund the production of free teaching resources that educators need to make Beyond the Elements more useful in their classrooms.
They’ll include lesson plans, interactive videos, and even virtual field trips, in which NOVA will stream a live video feed directly into classrooms from exciting on-site locations. Students will get a chance to follow along in real time and ask questions to experts.
And, like all NOVA educational materials, all of these materials will be available on the web for free to any teacher or student who wants them.
Then, once we’ve passed our second goal, we’ll be on the road to meeting our third goal—a special resource that NOVA’s never offered before.
NOVA's digital team already makes all kinds of great interactive materials; its free Elements iPad app has been downloaded nearly 3 million times. But if we reach our third goal, we can take Beyond the Elements where no NOVA special has gone before… into virtual reality.
While Beyond the Elements will be great as a TV special, think how much cooler it'll be if you can then shrink down and go inside the mind-blowing world of molecules, to see everything up close! VR is still an emerging technology, but it has exciting implications for education. With your help, NOVA can pioneer new ways to make science for all in this new format.
Finally, once we pass $2.25 million, we’ll begin working to bring NOVA—and Beyond the Elements—to as many American students as possible. Beyond the Elements will be free on TV and, for a limited time, on the web—but not all public high schools can stream online video in their classrooms.
We want to make sure teachers can depend on Beyond the Elements to be available whenever they need it. That's why our final goal is to make both Hunting the Elements and Beyond the Elements available on DVD or Blu-Ray, for free, to every public high school in the United States—almost 26,000 schools.
Together, we can make an incredible new special, bring it to life with classroom materials and a VR experience, and make sure that it's available to every high-school student in America. If we do, we'll have helped NOVA make the world of molecules both more exciting to all viewers, and more available to millions of students and teachers.
If we want to make science for all, that's a pretty good start.
We spent a long time thinking about this.
NOVA covers a huge variety of science topics. Maybe you get most excited about outer space. Or chemistry, math, engineering, nature, or archaeology. No matter which topic excites you, chances are that there's a NOVA episode about it.
Here are a few reasons we settled on Beyond the Elements for this campaign:
- It's a follow-up to one of NOVA's most watched, most popular specials.
- It makes some of science's most basic concepts enjoyable for all ages.
- We've been wanting to make it for years.
- Hunting the Elements fans have been asking us to make it.
- We knew it would take some real funding to make it a reality, and...
- We've received support from The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to get us started!
Now, if we work together, we can finally make it happen.
Several years ago, I hit the road with the NOVA team to discover the secrets behind our universe’s building blocks: the elements of the periodic table.
Hunting the Elements aired in 2012, and was an instant hit: Over 10 million people have seen it to date, and nearly 3 million people have downloaded the accompanying app. You can watch it right now on the NOVA website, so you’ll get an idea of our style of scientific storytelling.
Teachers frequently write NOVA to say thank you, explaining how valuable it is in their classrooms. We’re often told how students have been inspired by it. For example, I got to meet 10-year-old Eva from Oklahoma, who was so inspired by the show that she memorized the entire periodic table. Or 10-year-old Henry from Massachusetts, who has watched Hunting the Elements over 100 times:
If we’re going to help more people fall in love with science, that’s exactly the kind of inspiration we need!
With Beyond the Elements, we want to take that winning formula and run with it.
This time we’ll take a look at how all those elements form molecules and make up everything we’ve ever encountered! Water is a molecule, caffeine is a molecule, and you are made of molecules. Molecules occur naturally, and some can also be crafted by humans. They can help or hurt, and we intend to tell their stories.
Our goal is for Hunting the Elements and Beyond the Elements to work together. We hope that they’ll provide an exciting, comprehensive introduction to chemistry that can catalyze a reaction in curious minds of all ages.
If you've read this far, I hope it’s because you agree that we need to make science for everyone. Our future depends on it.
But that doesn’t mean that you won’t get more immediate gratification for supporting this project. (After all, PBS has been giving away mugs and tote bags to its supporters since long before Kickstarter was invented.)
Some of you will be excited to get official NOVA rewards, and others would prefer that we spend everything we raise on helping more schools.
That's why we have two kinds of rewards:
You can get PERSONAL REWARDS, including exclusive NOVA Kickstarter gear, such as T-shirts, mugs, tote bags, and even custom lab books, or you can pledge for EDUCATOR REWARDS, and we'll direct your pledge to helping the teacher(s) and school(s) of your choice. You'll find descriptions of all of the available rewards on the right side of this page, but if you're wondering what's included at each pledge level, this should help:
If you want more details, check out the FAQ for answers to questions like:
- How do I tell you which rewards I want?
- When do the rewards ship?
- What format of digital download will I get?
We know that $1 million is a lot of money (let alone $2.25 million!). So we want to be very clear about why we're asking for this much money, and how we'll use it.
The first thing you should know is that Beyond the Elements has already received a significant grant from The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation toward the goals of this Kickstarter campaign. We’re grateful for their enthusiasm and support.
But even with the generous support of the Sloan Foundation, NOVA still needs to raise the amounts listed here to do everything we've described.
That's because, as in every Kickstarter campaign, we'll have to pay certain fees to Kickstarter and the credit-card companies. We'll also have to cover the cost of making and packing all of the rewards you're getting. (T-shirts don’t grow on trees, you know.)
So for each dollar we raise on Kickstarter, here's how our expenses break down:
I, David Pogue, am not the real force behind NOVA; I'm just the lucky slob who gets to host some of its specials! Here are the real brains of the operation, who will be joining us on this adventure:
Paula S. Apsell is the Senior Executive Producer and Director of the WGBH Science Unit. She is a recipient of the Bradford Washburn Award, the Carl Sagan Award, the American Institute of Physics Andrew Gemant Award, and the Planetary Society’s Cosmos Award, among many others.
FAVORITE ELEMENT: Gold has two qualities that you might not think go together. It glitters and it’s got substance. In that way, it’s just like NOVA–both entertaining and educational—the gold standard of science programming!
Chris Schmidt is NOVA’s Senior Producer and the Executive Producer for Beyond the Elements. He was Executive Producer, Writer, and Director on many other David Pogue films, including the Making Stuff series and Hunting the Elements.
FAVORITE ELEMENT: At the moment, silicon (Si) is my favorite element because I find it to be sadly tragic. It’s right below carbon on the periodic table, and it so wants to be able to do all the things carbon can do. But its bonds aren’t quite as strong or flexible and it can’t keep up with carbon’s social life, moving easily between the air, the water and the earth. Still, it’s got a great work ethic and it does its best. And even though we may never find alien life based on silicon, good old number 14 has given us plenty to be grateful for, like glass and computers! Thanks, silicon!
Pamela Rosenstein manages the development of multipart series and specials for NOVA and the WGBH Science Unit. She supervises the development pipeline of projects for foundation and government funding, overseeing concept development, fundraising strategies, proposal development, and stewardship of strategic partnerships.
FAVORITE ELEMENT: Helium, because I find it amazing that something produced naturally through radioactive decay can make you squeak. But don’t inhale too much; it is a finite resource, after all.
Tim De Chant is NOVA's senior digital editor and the founding editor of NOVA Next, NOVA's digital magazine. He is also in charge of NOVA's social media strategy.
FAVORITE ELEMENT: Carbon is my favorite element because it can tell us an incredible amount about the natural world. In tree rings, carbon isotope ratios can also tell us if the conditions in which the tree is growing have changed over its lifetime!
Ralph Bouquet is the Education and Outreach Manager at NOVA. Ralph helps make NOVA a valuable resource for educators through the production of digital resources like videos and web games, professional development opportunities, and collaboration with STEM education organizations.
FAVORITE ELEMENT: Calcium, because it helps me rationalize my love for cheese.
Allison Eck is NOVA’s primary social media editor—the voice of NOVA on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. She also writes for NOVA Next. She alternates between keeping her finger on the pulse of science news and interacting with our smart viewers and readers (i.e., YOU!).
FAVORITE ELEMENT: Bismuth, because its crystals grow in a staircase-shaped formation that reminds me of an M.C. Escher drawing.
- (31 days)