EARTH Magazine: Crowd-Funding Science!

The August issue of EARTH with my feature on the cover!

The August issue of EARTH with my feature on the cover!

As many of you know, I don’t just write for fun. This is also how I make my living! If you’re curious about my science writing, my latest feature story for EARTH magazine – on scientists using crowd funding platforms like Kickstarter to fund research projects – just went live. Read about how these savvy scientists are avoiding the traditional grant grind by raising money for research projects using Kickstarter and other crowd-funding platforms. This story makes me want run my own Kickstarter campaign!

Crowdfunding platforms are ripe for fostering more communication between scientists and the general public, says Jai Ranganathan, a co-founder of, an organization that trains and encourages scientists to engage in crowdfunding through the platform

“Our interest in crowdfunding really came from our mission to close the gap between scientists and society. You can’t do crowdfunding unless you’re willing to engage with the public. Any cash generated comes second to the public outreach aspect, which is really priceless,” he says.

Surveys conducted by the National Science Foundation show that the American public generally has a positive view of science, but that scientific literacy — defined as “a good understanding of basic scientific terms, concepts, and facts; an ability to comprehend how science generates and assesses evidence; and a capacity to distinguish science from pseudoscience” — is low overall. For example, less than a third of Americans surveyed responded correctly to questions about how scientific experiments are conducted with controls and variables, with nearly 20 percent failing all the questions.

“The goal is a better understanding about how science works — the scientific method and the process of discovery,” Ranganathan says. “If people follow a scientist over the course of a year, they’ll see how scientific discovery happens and hopefully be able to better recognize junk science.”

To read the rest, click over to EARTH’s website.


About theblondecoyote

Mary Caperton Morton is a freelance science and travel writer with degrees in biology and geology and a master’s in science writing. A regular contributor to EARTH magazine, where her favorite beat is the Travels in Geology column, she has also written for the anthologies Best Women's Travel Writing 2010 and Best Travel Writing 2011. Mary is currently based in western Colorado. When she’s not at the computer she can usually be found outside -- hiking, skiing, climbing mountains and taking photographs. Visit her website at
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4 Responses to EARTH Magazine: Crowd-Funding Science!

  1. chris339 says:

    Great article, Mary! And I like that you brought in the issue of science illiteracy.

  2. Dan Beideck says:

    Nice article. Crowd funding might make for an interesting niche, but hope it doesn’t start to replace funding from the government. I can easily imagine politicians picking up on this as an excuse to reduce funding for science. In general, we’re better off having a “close examination by panels of independent scientists, engineers and educators who are experts in relevant fields” from government funding sources decide what projects are most worthy of supporting rather than the general public who qualifications are much more suspect, e.g. “less than a third of Americans surveyed responded correctly to questions about how scientific experiments are conducted with controls and variables.”

    For what it’s worth, I’ve participated in one kickstarter campaign and it happens to be the nanoleaf LED bulb you featured in your article. Interesting project and got a great light bulb out of it. I would classify their campaign as more of an engineering project rather than a scientific one, but it’s a good example of what crowd funding can accomplish.

  3. Congratulations!! But I must say you are certainly the ultimate in multitasking: mountain peaks and great science articles at the same time. Keep up the good work.

  4. Linda P. says:

    Your article intrigued me. I’m checking out some of those crowd-funding sites.

Comments are closed.