in Chile

Bus ConCiencia: A Brilliant Way to Share Science Education in Chile

Students at work! Photo courtesy of Fundación EcoScience

Do you remember doing hands-on science experiments?

When I was a sophomore in high school, for a chemistry project, I studied baking. I decided to research the chemical properties of flour, sugar, eggs, butter, baking powder vs. baking soda, etc. I then ignored printed recipes and attempted to create tasty treats. The first few were far from delicious: a cake chock-full of chalky cocoa powder, concave lemon cupcakes, a mushy cake with too much mint extract. Eventually, by cake number 25 or so, I had created two real recipes: mint chocolate chip cake and apricot muffins.

Why am I telling you this?

Because it’s one of the few school lessons that I can remember in detail.

Why do I remember that baking soda is a base, and it needs to be combined with acidic ingredients like lemon or buttermilk or cream of tartar in order to produce the carbon dioxide bubbles that enable the cake to rise?

Because I didn’t just read this in a book; I discovered it with my own hands and nose and tastebuds.

I believe that hands-on science education is absolutely critical for the next generation of citizens, everywhere in the world. One must have a fundamental understanding of ecology, biology, and other disciplines to be able to make good decisions about food, transportation, and the world in general, but students will only truly remember those lessons if they discover them with their own hands!

My friend María Cuellar is developing a fabulous science education project here in Chile. It’s a bus specially equipped with science experiments, and it will travel to underprivileged schools throughout the country, to reach 10,000 kids per year. I love the name: Con = with, Ciencia = science, and ConCiencia sounds the same as conscience.

María’s enthusiasm is contagious; here’s her description of the project.

Dear friends,

I’ve told you a little bit about this before, but I’ll explain it again briefly. I am part of a group of scientists and entrepreneurs working on a project called el Bus ConCiencia, a mobile laboratory on a bus that will take scientific experiments to the most remote and impoverished schools in Chile.

Although we have enough funding for the investment part of the project (i.e. the bus, the laboratory modification, the development of the experiments), we still need to find funding for the operational costs for 2012 (i.e. gasoline, materials for experiments, teacher trainings, printing costs, etc.). So, we launched the Bus ConCiencia fundraising campaign! It’s on a lovely Argentinean website called idea.me

What we want to achieve with the website is crowdfunding. This means that we are interested in having lots of donations, even if they are small. So, if you want to donate 20 or 5 dollars, that’s really helpful!

Here are the instructions, just in case:
1. You go to this website:
2. Click on the green button that says “I WANT TO SUPPORT!”
3. Go down and click on your “Reward”, that is, how much you want to donate.
4. Choose whether you want to pay for the shipping cost (for us to mail your reward).
5. Go down and click on “CONTINUE”.
6. Write down your information for ideame (this is what we will use to send you your rewards).
7. Click on “I have read and accept the ideame terms and conditions.” Then “SAVE”.
8. Choose your payment method (I highly recommend PayPal).
9. Write down your information and pay with a credit card.

Please share this link with your friends!

Thank you!!

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