Biogen STAR Initiative

February 12

People’s Sculpture Racing is applying for the Biogen STAR Initiative grant (link) for Cambridge and Somerville, due February 23. We are looking for two types of collaborator: 1) organizations to collaboratively host an in-school residency or workshop in an afterschool or out of school program, and 2) teachers and consultants interested in developing math, chemistry, and biology modules for sculpture racing.

We seek to contribute to the towns’ science learning ecosystems, especially for under-served and under-motivated students, by marshaling existing and blossoming school and free-standing maker spaces in the service of basic science education, Collaborators may participate under the aegis of multiple applications for the grant: your application with us need not be exclusive.

Our project is to work with educational institutions and makerspaces in Cambridge and Somerville to deploy our sculpture racing model on behalf of math, chemistry, and biology education. We already have a track record of bringing engineers and artists into schools, makerspaces, and the MIT Museum to devise contraptions to race during the annual Cambridge Science Festival. The Festival is one of our collaborators in the project.

Sculpture races are competitions of raced mobile art without obstacles. Sculpture racing captivates youth who would not normally be interested in the sciences and nerdly topics, and is highly accessible to students of all ages, backgrounds, and learning types. The projects have many parts, that can, for example, attract those motivated by art, design, and sports. The projects are useful constraints: they are well-defined with a motivating endpoint, are intrinsically hands-on, and require considerable collaboration. Awards can be given based on appropriate criteria; speed needn’t be rewarded, but adds excitement and motivation. Improvised racetracks can be nearly anywhere.

Grant monies would go to teachers, our consultants, materials, and administration. Critically, fund monies would also go to educators for the development of math, chemistry, and biology modules. For math–all engineering requires math; it merely needs to be deployed as a critical part of a project. For biology–a family racing work last year partially succeeded in reproducing the four-part movement of a bee’s wings, a kinematics project addressing structure and function. We would expect to work with folks at MIT and Cambridge working on biologically-inspired engineering. For chemistry—another participant raced a work with kinetically moving atomic structure. Insofar as there exist computer assisted design (CAD) applications and resources accessible to middle or high school students, we can incorporate that into our project, preparing youth for chemistry and possibly biology modeling.

Several of our team members are scientists. Daniel Rosenberg runs Lecture-Demonstration Services at Harvard University, where he works with physics and chemistry department students to create models representing scientific principles. Jeff DelPapa is an interdisciplinary scientist whose contraptions address scientific principles with wit.

Contact Us!

If you are interested in collaborating in any of these ways or have questions, please contact Christian Herold at Sculptureracing.org as soon as possible! We have a continually updated Biogen grant project page on our website (link).

Cheers,

BioGen Star Grant Team

Christian Herold
Daniel Rosenberg
Raquel Fornasaro
Jeff Del Papa
Mike Dawson

 

 

OLDER VERSIONS

February 12 version

People’s Sculpture Racing is applying for part of the BioGen STAR Initiative grant (link) due on February 23. Our project is to work with educational institutions and makerspaces in both Cambridge and Somerville to deploy our sculpture racing model on behalf of STEM education (in this case, math, chemistry, and biology). We already have a track record of bringing engineers and artists into schools, makerspaces, and the MIT Museum to devise contraptions to race during the annual Cambridge Science Festival.

Sculpture racing are competitions of racing mobile art on ½ mile and ¾ mile tracks. It might seem like an odd choice for STEM education. But it turns out to be a useful constraint with a variety of benefits. Youth are highly motivated by the challenge of racing and winning. Awards can be given to projects that fulfill STEM needs as desired. The projects are both well-defined and have many parts—including art, design, and sports! They are intrinsically hands-on and require considerable collaboration, It captivates youth who would not normally be interested in the sciences and nerdly topics, and is very accessible to students of all ages, backgrounds, and learning types. Youth are motivated to finish a project within a deadline.

The project activates existing and blossoming maker spaces, in schools and outside of schools, in the service of basic science education.

We would use the grant for teachers, materials, administration, and for the development of Math, Chemistry, and Biology modules for sculpture racing design. For example: Math–All engineering requires math; this can be easily incorporated into all engineering challenges. Biology–A family racing work last year partially succeeded in reproducing the four-part movement of a bee’s wings, a kinematics project addressing structure and function. Chemistry–One of our members races kinetic atomic structures and solar systems (more on Daniel Rosenberg, below). And, insofar as there exist computer assisted design (CAD) programs accessible to middle or high school students, we can incorporate this into our project, preparing youth for chemistry and possibly biology modeling.

The curriculum project will be coordinated by Daniel Rosenberg, who runs Lecture-Demonstration Services at Harvard University. He works with physics and chemistry department students to create models representing scientific principals. He has colleagues who work in biologically-inspired engineering in Harvard and at MIT, whom we hope to recruit as collaborators.

We envision three types of collaboration for our ‘distributed innovation lab’: general collaborators, network collaborators, and educator-consultants. The first would help administer the project; the second would produce or host one event per year for four years. Educator consultants would work with maker-engineers to develop the STEM modules. We currently have bites from Somerville schools and makerspaces; and Harvard. The Cambridge Science Festival is a collaborator. Although many of you may already be part of another application for this grant, the Cambridge Public School Grant Administrator has told us she sees no reason that any applicant cannot be part of more than one grant.

Contact Us!

If you are interested in collaborating in any of these ways or have questions, please contact Christian Herold at Sculptureracing.org as soon as possible! We have a continually updated BioGen grant project page on our website (link).

Cheers,

BioGen Star Grant Team

Christian Herold
Daniel Rosenberg
Raquel Fornasaro
Jeff Del Papa
Mike Dawson

 

February 8 version

People’s Sculpture Racing plans to submit an application for the Biogen STAR Initiative for Cambridge and Somerville. We would be happy to participate in your  application, and invite you to participate in ours.

Below is the the initial text for our application, which we will continually update as we approach the February 23rd deadline.

  • People’s Sculpture Racing and produces and inspires races of human-powered artistic works with kinetic features. We and our affiliates hold in-school, out-of-school, and vacation camp workshops in middle schools and makers spaces in Somerville, Cambridge, and elsewhere. We conduct STEAM outreach.
  • We would be interested in complementing your project….
  • Alternately, you could follow our lead in organizing an ‘ecosystem’ of Somerville and Cambridge schools and makerspaces. Grant money would be used to pay teachers and to build up and activate local school and independent maker spaces. We have great teachers—kinetic artists, engineers, and architects, and would love to deploy yours, too.
  • Our relation to math, biology, and chemistry learning objectives:
    • Mathematics is necessary in engineering design
    • Biology: form and function. A recent race included a bee with kinetic four-part wing movement, driven by the rotation of the racer’s wheels (see above image).
    • Chemistry: learning computer assisted design for modeling prepares youth for critical modeling tasks in chemistry; in the future, biology, as well.
    • In General: Hands-on and fun. Highly accessible to all ages and skill levels. Our racers include diverse families.
    • In order to be recognized for speed, ingenuity, and spectacle, students are highly motivated learners. Everyone is recognized.
  • Contact: Christian Herold, Sculptureracing@gmail.com

Grant page: https://www.biogen.com/en_us/global-impact/star-program.html