Electric Car, Powered by Social Media, Rolls Across the USA
An electric car fueled by social interaction completed a 1,000 mile-plus journey from Kansas City, Mo., to Washington, D.C., on Thursday.
A group of 17 high schoolers and eight mentors left Kansas City on May 31 in a restored 1967 Karmann Ghia — a small two-seater — to travel across the country. They were members of Minddrive, an educational non-profit program that uses hands-on projects to teach at-risk kids about math and science. The social good endeavor, dubbed the “social fuel tour,” was also about social media and awareness. The car, rebuilt with an Arduino device that monitored social media activity, triggered the vehicle’s motor based on the number of tweets and posts about the project.
“We took a long time trying to figure out how to convert social media into the wattage that we needed,” Linda Buchner, the president and cofounder of Minddrive, told Mashable. She called the trip both exhausting and the time of her life.
Minddrive assigned wattage values to social interactions. A follow on Twitter equaled five watts; a Like on Facebook equaled one watt. Signing an online petition was worth 10 watts, and any shares, retweets or mentions on Twitter was another three.
Unsure of their potential impact, the travelers decided to test-launch in Kansas City before the trip.
“We fueled up before we even left,” Buchner said, to over 225,000 watts, three times what they expected.
With enough power to make it to D.C. and beyond, Buchner says the group changed the conversation from “feed the car to feed the message.”
Tweets and a blog post from Richard Branson, as well as coverage from The Huffington Post and Forbes, got the message out there. “We wanted to increase the voice and opportunity for other kids falling in between the cracks to experience other hands-on projects,” Buchner said. “It’s really been a game changer for Minddrive.”
By Adam Popescu, Image courtesy of Minddrive. http://mashable.com/people/adam-popescu/