BioBus: Driving Science Education

A mobile science lab inspires scientific interest amongst the most underserved students

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PO Box 250288 New York, NY
US United States
Web http://www.biobus.org/
Maturity

In development

About the project Edit

Founded in 2008, Cell Motion Laboratories works towards a future in which science practice is more broadly accessible in our society by creating immersive laboratory environments in which scientists join K-12 students and the general public in hands-on explorations of the natural world. The BioBus, a 1974 transit bus equipped with $200,000 worth of research-grade microscopes is Cell Motion Laboratory’s flagship experiment in creating a transformative laboratory environment. The first four years of BioBus operation have been extraordinary. Since our inception in 2008, over 55,000 people at more than 290 schools and communities have worked side-by-side with professional scientists to explore their environment using research-grade microscopes normally found in top-tier laboratories. Students have explored crawling cells, fly eyes, and plant chloroplasts side-by-side with scientists ranging from students at local community colleges to a Nobel prize winner at Columbia University to Bill Nye “the Science Guy.” Scientists are inspired by the natural curiosity and aptitude of students from even the most low-performing public schools, while students from these schools leave the bus with a new appreciation for how “cool” science is and encouraged by their positive interactions with professional scientists. After this experience, many students proclaim, “I want to be a scientist.”

In what ways is this project unique and creative? Edit

In the words of our students, the BioBus is the "best field trip ever," but one that goes right to the school. Thus we remove many of the barriers to participation that prevent many communities from experiencing science as it truly is - dynamic, exciting, and cool.

What is the social value of this project? Edit

The majority of students we visit reside in low-income communities with high levels of poverty and few resources for quality science education. The BioBus brings research-grade scientific equipment and professional scientists to these communities, opening their eyes to the possibilities of scientific exploration and scientific careers.

What is the potential of this project to expand and develop? Edit

Cell Motion Laboratories is thrilled with its past successes and excited by our plans for future growth. Students leave the BioBus buzzing with questions, but one of the most common question is “When can I do more?” In order to help answer that question while building capacity to create additional mobile science labs, we are in the process of establishing BioBus Headquarters at the new Center for Community in Manhattan. Sponsored by the Lower East Side Girls Club, the BioBus headquarters will give BioBus students the chance to build on their initial inspiration and continue their science practice after school and in summer programs. This immersive laboratory environment will multiply the impact of BioBus mobile operations while providing facilities for our five-year strategy of developing additional mobile units. The Lower East Side Girls Club is a close BioBus collaborator that shares our vision for equal opportunity education, and together we will create the next generation of transformational science environments.

What was the triggering factor of this project? Edit

Dr. Dubin-Thaler founded the BioBus immediately after starting his Ph.D. because most people he found that thought science sucked or was boring got really excited about science after talking to him about his research on how cells crawl and move around in our own body. So, he started the BioBus on the premise that if he could get people aboard a research lab, show them amazing things on the microscope, and get them to do some experiments for themselves, he might be able to have an impact on the abysmal reputation science and scientists have in our society.

What is the business model of this project? Edit

The BioBus charges schools and communities for its programs on a sliding scale. As you can imagine, many of the schools we visit, for instance those in the South Bronx and Harlem, do not have budgets to pay for even the small $10 student cost of giving a student an inspiring, unforgettable science experience. In order to bring the bus to these in-need communities, we ask individuals and organizations to sponsor schools. Want to sponsor a school? Go to <a href="http://www.fundly.com/biobus">our fundraising site</a> to see what schools we're raising money for now and how you can help.

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