During each run of the very popular #SciFund Challenge, I like to take a bit of time to peruse the videos that are prepared by researchers vying for crowdfunding dollars. It seems that crowdfunding for scientific projects is becoming more and more popular due to the success of so many of the projects. Recently, Ethan Perlstein of Princeton University was successful in achieving the highest total for a science crowdfunder so far: over $25,000.
I have to say that overall, I'm disappointed with many of the videos in the present round. Evidently, so are the bidders. Pledges are very low for many of the current projects, and there is a direct correlation between the amount of success of a campaign and the quality of the videos that describe them. Researchers, take note! The public needs to be engaged in your project in order to support it, and now, more than ever, there are user friendly tools for creating videos with science and flair. You simply cannot crowdfund a project if you haven't wooed the crowd.
Despite the majority of disappointing films, there are a few that deserve mention for their creativity and production value:
First, 'Chemical Warfare in the Intertidal' produed by Alex Warneke is a fun rap song that describes her proposed project clearly and effectively. I really like the fact that she captured her entire video on an iphone 4G. This goes to show that you do not need sophisticated production equipment to get the job done.
Second, 'Changing the Face of Farming' by Rafter Sass Ferguson. Excellent production value and great project description.
Third, 'Preventing Wartime Violence Against Civilians' by Amelia Hoover Green is another nice example of a compelling video pieced together with simple tools. A webcam, some footage, images, and a well thought out and presented story. Great Job!
My advice to future participants in crowdfunding projects for science: do NOT underestimate the power of a well designed video presentation.