Community Spotlight: BioBus

April 28, 2017

BioBus is a non-profit that celebrates the beauty of making a scientific discovery, and strives to make that feeling accessible to all. They drive around in their partially solar-powered bus and let students really get their hands on microscopes and discover. We spoke to Director of Development Sasha Chait about their story and their work.

Let’s start with the basics: what exactly is the BioBus?

Our flagship program is the BioBus mobile lab, a science lab built on a 1974 public transit bus that visits schools all over New York City every day to give kids a chance to use high-powered microscopes and interact with scientists, experiencing the excitement of hands-on science. We operate community labs on the Lower East Side and in Harlem for afterschool, weekend, and summer science programs.

Do you allow anyone on the bus, or is it primarily aimed at young students?

Most of our curriculum is best for specific ages PreK through Grade 12, and we offer internships for high school and college students. We aim to give everyone the chance to access exciting science and have public events throughout the year that are open to all ages!

Dr. Ben Teaching

What kinds of science do you focus on?

Our current curriculum includes biology, microscopy, neuroscience, and ecology. We focus on giving students a chance to engage in fun discovery and inquiry-based science, learning scientific thinking and realizing that they can be scientists.

What areas do you cover? Are there plans to be in other neighborhoods or boroughs?

BioBus visits schools all over New York City, focusing on public schools, underserved communities, and populations underrepresented in science (girls and minorities). We have strong ongoing partnerships particularly on the Lower East Side and surrounding areas and are focused currently on opening our new community lab in Harlem and a second mobile lab coming soon!

Inside the BioBus!

How does life under Trumpism affect the work that BioBus does every day? They seem to not be very big fans of science!

BioBus always supports access to science and the importance of using science to understand the world around us and ourselves. We are a non-partisan organization that works with any elected officials who support our mission of increasing access to science in all our communities and our vision of a world where all people have experienced the power and beauty of making a scientific discovery. We are concerned that many of our students in New York City are worried about the safety of themselves and their families because of the current administration’s positions, and that this fear impacts our students’ focus on learning and ability to take advantage of an experience like BioBus. Further, we are concerned about funding cuts that may impact our scientists and education partners, the people who make BioBus programs possible.

If someone wanted to explore the BioBus, what is the first step? And are there ways for aspiring scientists to get involved?

There are many ways for aspiring scientists to get involved! Visit our website to learn more generally, click “book & inquire” to sign up for a BioBus visit to your school or other programs, and click “what’s happening” to learn about open program registrations, upcoming events, and other announcements. You can also sign up to volunteer and donate online.

David Yap Teaching

How do you use print to get people excited about BioBus?

Print is a great tool! We use our annual report (printed by Radix) to tell the BioBus story, engaging students, scientists, donors, partners, and more. We also use flyers and postcards to spread the word about our programs and events.

Community Spotlight is a blog series that seeks to connect people power with print power. Each month, we feature an organization using print to do great work in their community and fight for a more just world. Subscribe today and let’s start building together.