Science Lab On Wheels! BioBus Brings Science Class to Schools With Insufficient Resources


Image: Cell Motion BioBus

Ben Dubin-Thaler received his Ph.D. in biology from Columbia University in 2007, and instead of getting a job, he bought a 1974 San Francisco transit bus. His dream was to build a vehicle that could bring hands-on science education to communities lacking such opportunities. The BioBus is now doing just that, in New York and around the country.The carbon-neutral BioBus—it's powered 100 percent with biofuels, solar power and wind power (a wind turbine is literally attached to the front of the bus)—is based in NYC, completed a tour of the midwest last year, and is headed back to Chicago this spring for the annual BIO Convention. According to Dubin-Thaler, in the last year more than 12,000 students boarded the bus, which is run by the nonprofit Cell Motion Laboratories.

BioBus scientists (mostly volunteer-based, and they're looking for more, so any scientists out there...) custom-design courses to fit students' needs, and they teach a range of science subjects from biology to physics to chemistry to Earth science to, most recently, materials science. The bus is divided between a university-level microscope laboratory up front, and a data analysis/computer classroom in the back.


Image: Cell Motion BioBus

The lack of emphasis on science education in this country, and the stark resource gaps between schools in general mean that all too many communities don't have the resources or equipment necessary to make teaching science fun or even possible. The BioBus, however, can just pull right up and draw kids in for an exciting and instant hands-on learning experience. And because it's 100% clean energy, students get not only a science education, but a green education, too.

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