By Sheldon Greaves
It takes a lot to get an organization like CSL started, and to keep it going. We owe a debt to those who visit our blog, who write for it, who offer their energy and passion to help CSL grow.
However, there needs to be an underpinning of support, something that can keep us going through the inevitable ups and downs of life in the educational nonprofit sector. For CSL, that support comes through the vision and generosity of Dr. Fritz Faulhaber, CEO of Micromo Electronics and Director of the Faulhaber Family Foundation. It was Fritz’s vision that prompted the formation of the Citizen Scientists League from the beginning. He reached out to Forrest Mims and myself and asked us to work with him to create a new organization for promoting science literacy and has been a steadfast supporter ever since.
This is as good a time as any to make note of a couple of other ventures he supports, just so that our readers can get a measure of Fritz’s commitment to science and science education.
Sarasota Scientific Instruments
This is a science equipment lending library that loans scientific equipment, free of charge, to local schools for use in classrooms. Teachers can select from a wide range of devices and apparati, which SSI delivers and retrieves as part of the service. They also send someone who can ensure that the equipment is set up and functioning properly and offer additional details if needed. Available offerings include a gravity torsion balance, telescopes, Van de Graaf generators, a gas chromatograph, LabQwest data collection and analysis units (the closest thing I’ve seen to a tricorder this side of Star Trek), several setups for studying ballistics, friction, and other physical phenomena, many different kinds of kits, and much, much more.
SSI reflects a distinct emphasis on doing science rather than seeing it done. Although many of the available items lend themselves to demonstrations, this is not what the library is for. It is specifically and explicitly for students to use in doing research themselves, making discoveries on their own. This preference for direct involvement also drives another venture made possible by the Faulhaber Foundation.
The Faulhaber Fab Lab
Located at the GWHIZ Science Museum in Sarasota, FL, the Faulhaber Fab Lab brings together a collection of high-tech tools for real hands-on work.Â Short for “fabrication laboratory,” Fritz described a fab lab is a place “where the practical application of science, technology and craftsmanship finds a home.” The Faulhaber Fab Lab was launched in May of 2011. He further explained thatÂ ”It is the ultimate custom creation. “We expect to foster innovation, art, learning, craftsmanship, the fun of creating special things, and the building of science demonstrations and experiments.” The lab offers high-end computer-guided tools for fabricating, cutting, drilling, shaping, and milling, along with many other shop options.
For a fee that amounts to about $30/day, members can take courses, design, build, craft, and fabricate to their heart’s content.
CSL is proud to be a part of this group of institutions. I want to acknowledge and thank Fritz and the Faulhaber Foundation for helping us to do our part in support of doing real science.