#SciFund Challenge Participation

STEMulate Learning has taken part in the #SciFund Challenge since its beginning in 2011, where citizen-scientists have provided their support to research initiatives in a number of areas using the RocketHub crowd-funding portal that has hosted #SciFund since its inception. We are nearing the 3rd Round of the #SciFund Challenge and I wanted to review the past support (termed “fuel” by RocketHub) from participation in #SciFund and what each crowd-funding effort has provided to the STEMulate Learning program. Our success to date includes almost $600 to support several projects:

During Round 1, only a single project (STEMulate Learning Lab) was offered for public support as I was inexperienced with crowd-funding and wanted to try this opportunity to see what it could do for my STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) workshop participants.

In Round 2, I offered two projects but tested the effectiveness of marketing and social media communications by only covering Project A (Personalized Robotics) and letting Project B (Solar Seaweed) represent itself without mention or advertisement save that for the entire #SciFund effort overall. Personalized Robotics, a project focused on education of children in public schools and through our workshops, was provided a much more elaborate video, with custom voice-overs and advanced image rendering. Solar Seaweed, focused on an alternative-energy technology I has designed and was researching its application as an underwater solar-power producing artificial seaweed, was given a set of simple video clips with textual overlays alone.

Although Solar Seaweed received a greater total level of support and attracted interest from a larger group of supporters, Personalized Robotics was ultimately more successful as the MakerBot Education program (http://curriculum.makerbot.com/) contacted me to sponsor my research integrating 3D printing into educational settings (SOLID Learning) and gave me the equipment I was attempting to crowd-fund through RocketHub.

For the third round of the #SciFund Challenge, I am considering the following two projects extending prior research that have reached the limits of existing resources:

Digitize The World – Participants in the SOLID Learning program (which began with the Personalized Robotics project in round 2) suggest that students are very interested in creating robots that reflect their bodies, faces or objects that are not easy to design using CAD programs. Whether this means a banana-shaped robotic vehicle or a robot truck with a copy of their own upper body as the driver, educators and students want to scan in 3D shapes to print using their 3D printers. Educators have also asked for high-resolution scans of artifacts for use in their classes, and several museums and university collections have offered access to their resources in return for access to the resulting scans. This crowd-funding project will seek support to purchase an inexpensive high-resolution 3D scanner, the NextEngine 3D Scanner HD. Rather than $50,000-80,000 scanners like ZCorp’s ZScanner or Creaform’s HandyScan/MetraScan systems, the NextEngine 3D scanner is available for $2,995. This will be our goal for this project, and the results will be shared with museums, educators and students worldwide.

Telepathic Cyborg Robots – In our STEMulate Learning neurocomputing experiments using the Neurosky MindWave single-electrode EEG in combination with an Arduino microcontroller, students can control a robot or model train by making it go faster or slower based on their level of focus and trigger stop/start by using an eyeblink. However, students want to go farther – they want to turn a robot left or right, or make it pick up and drop other objects by thought alone. To go beyond simple single-signal controls, a multi-channel EEG headset is needed and the Emotiv EPOC provides a 14-channel headset with a research/educational option available. The Educational Edition provides the software and hardware to educational institutions for $2,500. This project would provide everything needed to link a student to a remote robot of their own design, creating a cyborg connection to remotely pilot the robot by their thoughts.

I will discuss what we did with the support provided by each prior round of #SciFund in additional posts this week, and discuss our planned round 3 projects in greater detail!

Check back for additional posts that will be linked below:

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