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Kickstarter Project from dMASS NVP Voltree: Using tree power to inspire young scientists

dMASS NVP and 2013 Buckminster Fuller Challenge semi-finalist Voltree Power has launched a Kickstarter project for its educational product CircuiTree.

Voltree was the first to harvest metabolic energy from non‐animal organisms such as trees and plants, and has since developed sensors to detect patterns that indicate disease, infestation, stress, dehydration, and seismic activity. The company's aim is to help address critical needs in natural resource management and agriculture.

Now, with CircuiTree, Voltree is hoping to inspire a young generation of scientists to learn about tree power and more. The CircuiTree science kit is built off of Voltree's bioenergy harvester technology. Kids are able to "plug in" to a tree and experiment with different strategies for activating an LED light incorporated in the kit.

CircuiTree is also a global game and data collection tool. An accompanying “Citizens Science Project” app invites young scientists to compete in a race to see who can light the most LED’s fastest, and allows them to record the voltages in various trees. The project could potentially enable global monitoring of the earth’s soil, crops, and forests by citizen scientists to add to our understanding of environmental conditions and emerging risks.

Funds raised through Kickstarter will be invested in redesigning the science kit so that it's more affordable for schools, children, and hobbyists; enhancing the app; bringing the kit to market; and developing educational materials for the kits.

For more information, visit the CircuiTree Kickstarter campaign.


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Get more bang for your mass: using surfaces for marketing and education

Everywhere I look, I see surfaces that business and other organizations could turn into dual-purpose tools that market a brand, educate a population, enrich our daily visual experience, or communicate a message.  By getting more function out of mass that's already in use, you can minimize your resource (and cash) investment.  The London-based marketing firm Curb has some of the best examples of dMass marketing strategies.  They use existing surfaces and little other material to promote messages in a sustainable, natural fashion, doing everything from field ads to "snow tagging." 

In Barcelona, I saw this terrific education strategy: a sign on a cement wall that spelled out the name of a neighborhood conjugated in Catalan.  Why don't we use sidewalks, road surfaces, walls, windows, or packaging as dual-function, educational tools?  Imagine the possibilities in using surfaces for community education - displaying math problems, vocabulary, grammar tips, and much more. 

I also saw this marketing campaign in Barcelona to remind pedestrians to look both ways before crossing street ("in Barcelona 1 out of every 3 traffic related deaths are pedestrians"). 

In the U.S., Cambridge drivers are getting yoga advice along with their parking tickets.  A strange mix, but think about the array of options. 

What existing material or surface could you transform into a dual-function tool to deliver a message?

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