Fasten Your Seatbelts - it's ScienceRide

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I'm always looking for new, fun ways to get people thinking and talking about science. College-age audiences, it turns out, are a challenge to engage. With all the social media outlets available, the old-fashioned science outreach lecture just doesn't cut it anymore.

So this got me thinking. I'm a big fan of Discovery Channel's Cash Cab - a fun trivia show that takes place in the back of a New York taxi cab. What if we developed a science quiz show using Northwestern's after-hours shuttle service, SafeRide? It seemed to be a good fit - we'd make it fun and quirky, using idle time in a minivan to challenge students with five general science questions, game show-style. With science-themed prizes (Diet Coke and Mentos) for correct answers, the idea sounded promising. Paul David Shrader, SafeRide Coordinator, was really receptive (thanks, Paul David!). He paired me with senior film major Tom Koerner, trusty SafeRide driver and video consultant. Our pilot episode is below.

Special thanks to Beth Herbert for drafting our initial list of quiz questions, to MMLC videographer Mark Schaefer for his fantastic editorial expertise, and to the energetic undergraduates who carry the show. With some additional funding and support, our hope is to be back on the streets of Evanston next month. Let me know what you think!

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Comments

Mike, I love the idea and I thought the video was very well edited, but the questions were just too easy. If I was in that car, I would have totally wanted harder questions. Also, a T-shirt instead of Coke and Mentos might be a bit more fun of a prize, granted it would also be more expensive.

Thanks to all for your comments!

Laura and Brad - on the issue of question difficulty, it turns out that our pilot filming project involved ~four or five groups of riders. Of those groups that did NOT include a pre-med/science major, I don't recall any groups going five-for-five without a few clues.

That said, we'd like to challenge the science majors, too. So we'll likely offer a "Turbo" set of questions to challenge even the brainiest among you.

And we do have T-shirts for winners - I'll post a pic in the coming days.

I think this is a great idea. It was really fun to watch, too. However, I thought some of the shots were unnecessary or distracting (also, I wasn't aware that you had to drive on Sherman to get to Bobb, if that's where they said they were going, so those random shots of the exterior distracted me). A few of the shots seemed a little bumpy. Also, I thought the questions were too easy. I am only a freshman and I knew the answers to all of them. Harder questions would increase the suspense and the educational value. The questions also did not include any chemistry questions, which I would have liked to see because chemistry is such an important foundation for the other sciences as well as very difficult (and thus would be material for harder questions).
But I really enjoyed it! I hope if I call SafeRide, I can get quizzed on science!

I love ScienceRide! This is such a great idea and I felt it was well executed. I look forward to future episodes.

Great idea! Well done. I think Northwestern students need more difficult questions.

Keep it up!

It was thoroughly enjoyable. I liked the "Entourage"-like double door opening sequence where Mike and Tom got out of the car made me laugh.
Great job!

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