Do you remember the map I showed you in my last post, about how many states had volunteers interested in starting Science Booster Clubs? Spoiler alert! I received emails from people in 18 states interested in starting clubs. The first wave of volunteer-led clubs is getting off to a formal start at the end of January. Volunteers in Kentucky, Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio, Nebraska, Texas, and Maryland will be receiving all the materials they need to start teaching hundreds of people in their communities about climate change. In Iowa, we’re also sending out three kits to our new clubs in Grinnell, Des Moines, and Ames. We're even starting to get club logos finalized for many of the groups! Here's a look at the first batch:
How will we keep the clubs unified across the country? We will provide club leaders with all the materials and information they need, in the form of a kit, so that they can put on the same activities that we have developed and extensively field-tested in Iowa. The kits we’re sending out, all together, will allow club members to teach over 5,000 people about climate change through our popular and easy ocean acidification activity. We’ve been able to keep costs right around ten cents a head. At the same price point, we’ll be sending out an evolution teaching kit in the next few months. By then, we hope to bring another 3 to 4 volunteer-led clubs into the program. Over the course of 2017, we have the capacity to carry 10 more clubs into our beta release. Email me if you're interested, because spots are filling up fast.
As I assemble these kits in my home, which is distressingly full of science gear now that I’m 18 months into this project, I have to admit that it makes me a little emotional- and not just over my steadily diminishing floor space. I am so grateful that through my work with NCSE, I have been able to positively affect so many people. What a wonderful network we are building! Look at all these sweet giant tubes I'm cramming full of science gear! And who would have thought back in May 2015 that we'd be ready to go national? It is just amazing.
Over the course of 2017, we are going to learn a lot about what clubs need to successfully get going. I am really looking forward to hearing stories from all over the country about the experiences our volunteers have teaching Americans about climate change and evolution. I am sure that we will face challenges. Challenges we can’t even anticipate. None of us in this first wave of the expansion are in “easy” territory. Will we face more challenges teaching about climate change in West Virginia, or in Texas? I think we might run into more drama around Washington, DC, than we might have anticipated.
But if we stay friendly, open, and thoughtful, we will use those challenges to learn and build, as we develop a network of citizens passionate about science education in their communities. We reached over 54,000 people last year. This year, I wonder how high our numbers will go. Can we multiply by ten, again? Let’s give it a shot.