JeepNeed builds Biodiesel-fueled mobile science labs for rural high schools in the Philippines – U can help.

My friend Dr. Dennis Cheek introduced me to Shaina Tantuico. I met Dennis in 2006 when he was the Vice President of Education at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and I was just starting out at Linden Lab. Dennis mentors some very talented education entrepreneurs. So I was intrigued to meet Shaina in person and learn more about her venture — JeepNeed. I knew from Dennis that JeepNeed was one of the six finalists out of 200 applicants in the 2010 Milken-Penn GSE Education Business Plan Competition (The 2011 competition has just been announced–deadline for submissions is Dec. 3). Shaina shared with me designs for transforming a cultural icon, the Jeepney, into a mobile science lab to bring STEM education to rural high schools in the Philippines. She explained that only 51% of Philippine high schools have science labs with most of those in private schools and government-owned magnet schools. Only 11% of all schools in the Philippines are connected to the internet–lower than the international average of 35%, and lower than the Philippine’s neighbor Thailand where 55% of the schools are connected. Shaina attended Mount Holyoke College, and during a fellowship there, she did some research that inspired the JeepNeed vision.

I did a small scale research project with the Weed Fellowship that framed the way I thought about education last summer. I interviewed students who lived below the poverty line and made it to college. They were creative, resilient, and powerful. JeepNeed is an attempt at embodying all the factors that helped these students succeed.

Shaina and her project partner Erika Pineda, both natives of the Philippines,  wanted to give something back to their community and the JeepNeed mobile classroom idea was born. Shaina and Erika have funded the first biodiesel-fueled Jeepney out of their own savings. Check out the prototype designs and learn more about Jeepneys at their partner’s site, The Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities

But the big and urgent news is that they’ve launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise the funds for a second vehicle. You can read their Kickstarter project updates from the Philippines here. If you’re not familiar with Kickstarter, you should be. It’s the largest funding platform for creative projects in the world–crowdfunding at its best. I’ve discovered some extraordinary projects there. And if you haven’t practiced crowdfunding yet on Kickstarter, JeepNeed can be a great project to get your Crowdfunder feet wet. Follow Shaina and Erika’s JeepNeed adventures on Twitter. (That’s Erika in the photo with Samuel Guevara, vegetable oil engine guru and JeepNeed mentor.)



STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering and M….usic? World’s tiniest instrument from U of Twente team

A team at MESA+, the Institute for Nanotechnology of the University of Twente, has created the smallest musical instrument – the micronium. Their Mission – Build the smallest orchestra in 9 weeks. Create musical instruments in MEMS (MicroElectroMechanical Systems). The team posted this video of a performance on September 26 in Enschede of a compostion written for the instrument – “Impromptu No. 1 for Micronium” by Arvid Jense, a MediaMusic student at the conservatorium. The project was by the Transducers Science and Technology group with Professor Miko Elwenspoek. The context of the event was the The 21st Workshop on Micromachining, Micromechanics and Microsystems. You’ll find more background here on how the micronium works. Music on a microscopic scale — a cross-disciplinary collaboration. The M in STEM stands for Music, doesn’t it? Or is it for Maker? ;D



Studio H in Bertie County, NC blends participatory design with early college high school in innovative, open source STEM curriculum

I first stumbled upon Project H because of an Airstream trailer and the Design Revolution Roadshow.
In addition to Airstreams and Roadshows, Project H combines several other passions of mine – participatory design for social change, design learning, early college high school, and a very global perspective. They describe their focus area as Design for K12 Education:

Project H believes that design solutions belong in the hands of the next generation. One of our key skill sets is building a human-centered process that collaboratively develops and implements curricular, material, and environmental solutions for K-12 public schools, youth-focused organizations, and educational agencies. Our focus on K-12 education is rooted in the belief that design is not just about products or beautiful spaces, but a way of thinking, and that this creative critical thinking is a valuable problem-solving skill to be learned at a young age…

 The roadshow ended in May, 2010 after 75 days visiting 35 schools to showcase humanitarian designs to the next generation of designers. A group of kindred spirits called Urban Re:Vision bought the Airstream and Project H founder Emily Pilloton and project architect Matthew Miller (that’s Matthew making water filters with the students) have settled in Bertie County, North Carolina to do design with students in the School of Agriscience and Technology at the Bertie Early College High School.  The video above is from day two — their first project — in Studio H. You can follow progress on the Studio H Blog.

We hope to develop Studio H into a deployable one-year curriculum that could integrate into any other school district’s core, technical education, or STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) program. In Bertie County, we will use the next two school years to tweak the syllabus so that it might better fit a variety of districts seamlessly. We hope to offer the full one-year program to other rural school systems by fall 2012, but in the meantime, all of our project lesson plans are open-sourced and available for all to use within their current course structure.

I was happy to see an August New York Times article tell the story of their work in Bertie County which has not been without significant obstacles. They’ve designed some brilliant solutions.


At Tinkering School, decoration of unfinished projects incubates innovative solutions.

The Tinkering School Summer Camp is in session at Elkus Ranch in Half Moon Bay, California. Computer scientist/writer/sculptor Gever Tulley started Tinkering School and hosts two sessions a summer with his wife, Julie Spiegler, and Robyn Orr.


 In his second TED talk filmed in February, 2009, Gever told the TED audience…

We start from doodles and sketches. And sometimes we make real plans. And sometimes we just start building. Building is at the heart of the experiences. Hands on, deeply immersed and fully committed to the problem at hand. Robin and I, acting as collaborators, keep the landscape of the projects tilted towards completion. Success is in the doing. And failures are celebrated and analyzed. Problems become puzzles and obstacles disappear. 

When faced with particularly difficult setbacks or complexities, a really interesting behavior emerges: decoration. Decoration of the unfinished project is a kind of conceptual incubation. From these interludes come deep insights and amazing new approaches to solving the problems that had them frustrated just moments before.

I was struck by Gever’s observation about decoration as conceptual incubation and innovative solutions flowing out of such interludes.

You can follow the 2010 Tinkerers’ adventures on the Tinkering School blog. Be sure to follow diary links for extended posts and videos of camp. And TED posted a great web comic version of the talk here.


Middle schoolers w $200 do real science w digcam, GPS phone, lithium batteries, cooler, handwarmers, balloon & iPad to rescue

Students in Bill Wiley’s science elective at the Potomac School in McLean, VA signed up for a challenge: photograph the curvature of Earth for $200 or less. Thirteen 7th and 8th graders met every other week for a year, doing the necessary research and project design in preparation for the launch. They purchased and programmed a digital camera to shoot three photos and ten seconds of video every minute. They intalled cold-resistant lithium batteries in the camera and a GPS-enabled cellphone running Instamapper, added chemically-powered handwarmers to keep the electronics warm in minus 70 degree Fahrenheit temperatures, fit them into a $6 styrofoam cooler, and rigged the cooler up to a weather balloon that would carry it 20 miles into the stratosphere, with a parachute to bring it down. The launch on June 5 went off perfectly. There was one hitch on the descent – Google satellite images showed the cooler in a field a four hour drive from where their calculations had shown it would land. One of the students had his father’s iPad along and used that to connect via the cellphone networks to locate the cooler. View photos of the ascent and descent on the Potomac School website. Full story here and a Washington Post perspective here.

Legrand in SL – Philly hip hop artist collaboration w Temple U students in Tokyo

This video on YouTube just eclipsed all of the other posts I’m working on. It’s the outcome of a collaboration between Philly hip hop artist Christoper Ross, aka Legrand, and 20 students in the Introduction to Cybermedia course at Temple University’s Tokyo campus. Released on July 9, Hip Hop Press has some details. I spotted a post by the course professor Jean-Julian Aucouturier to the VirtualWorlds group on Linked In. Cyberneticia gives five (out of five) stars and a bow gesture to Legrand and the Temple U team.


Exploratorium Learning Studio gets Tibetan monks in India tinkering with cardboard automata

I found this video of Tibetan monks tinkering with cardboard automata by noticing my friend Eileen Clegg had made a comment on Tiff von Emmel’s blog back in April, 2009. The cardboard automata is a “tinkering activity” developed at the PIE Institute at the Exploratorium (check out the PIE IDEA Library). This is one of three videos with the monks posted by The Learning Studio at the Exploratorium from a project they did in Sarnath, India in January, 2009. You’ll find more backstory on The Learning Studio blog.

First Sighting


?? 2010??Eireann Harper??

My friend Robin Harper sent me this photo of her grandson, Camilo,??taken??by his mother, Eireann Harper. Robin’s email asked me, “Remember the joy of running through a sprinkler when it’s really hot?” First Sighting …Camilo is the Future of Learning. Keeping it grounded 😀

Dedicated to Barbara Dawes Vogl


I dedicate this work in progress to Barbara Vogl (1924 – 2009), fearless explorer, Future of Learning inventor, mentor and colleague, dearest friend.