Did I just see a big glowing brain on wheels pass by?

When one receives an email that starts out, “Since I’m a momma’s boy and a geek…” you can’t resist reading what the rest of message says when you are a TechCommGeekMom. This is because I hope my own son follows that same description! 🙂

I received an email from Tyler Alterman, who is crowdfunding for a venture that he and some others are trying to come up with for a neat educational business. From the sounds of it, it reminds me a little bit of the Mad Science franchise, but with a twist on cognitive sciences instead of the physical sciences. Tyler summarized it as this:

“I’m currently crowdfunding for a lab-on-wheels and cognitive science education station with a glowing brain on top (“The Think Tank“). It’s a collaboration between artist friends and scientists from my lab to transform an old truck into a literal and metaphorical vehicle for empowering the public with the behavioral and brain sciences.”

ETA: Tyler later forwarded me the following press release, with more details:

What is pink and green on four wheels with a big, glowing brain on top? Granted he can fundraise $10,900 by March 13th, Tyler Alterman’s cognitive science education station will be. Alterman is teaming up with artists and scientists from his lab to build a  lab-on-wheels called “The Think Tank.”

“Most think tanks have Washington, D.C. addresses,” notes Alterman, a researcher at the New School for Social Research. “But The Think Tank, as a literal and metaphorical vehicle, will roam New York streets (for starters) without an address, empowering kids and adults with the behavioral and brain sciences wherever it parks.” To join about 70 others in supporting Alterman’s campaign–launched on Alterman and Darwin’s birthdays–check out his video and crowdfunding page at http://igg.me/at/CogSciOnWheels.

The lab-on-wheels will be built out of a renovated box truck by Alterman and a team of artists headed by Christine Alaimo, a neuroscientist with a cupcake business in support of autism research. Alterman plans to bring classrooms and scientists aboard The Think Tank to teach the research process, collect demographically diverse data, and educate citizens with sidewalk talks about how the science of brain and mind can improve lives.

Created as Alterman’s senior thesis project, The Think Tank is a collaboration between the CUNY Macaulay Honors College senior and the New School for Social Research’s distinguished neuroscientist Dr. Daniel Casasanto, who holds a doctorate from MIT’s Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and contributes to Psychology Today.

After meeting his funding goal of $10,900, Alterman plans to unveil the vehicle at a public benefit, held in the Honors College’s landmark brownstone neighboring Lincoln Center. The benefit will be headlined by the Amygdaloids, a rock band made up entirely of neuroscientists. Named for the part of the brain believed to register fear, the band is fronted by Joseph E. LeDoux, a leading authority in neural science, Director of the Center for the Neuroscience of Fear and Anxiety and author of such books as The Emotional Brain: the Mysterious Underpinnings of Emotional Life. Other highlights include mini-lectures by noted experts and a screening of shorts from the Imagine Science Film Festival.

I’m thinking of throwing in a little money for this. Since he’s based in NYC, I hope at some point he might be able to travel or expand his business so it can visit my son’s school in Central Jersey! 🙂 It just sounds like a neat business venture, and anything that’s educational on wheels has to be cool, especially one with a big brain on wheels.  You can view the video above for more info, and then as soon as you are convinced, like me, to throw a few dollars his way, go to:


At this writing, it looks like Tyler and his staff are about a little more than a third of the way to their goal of almost $11K by March 13th. He’s not asking even for big donations–any donation will be helpful! I imagine that just the big brain for on top of the truck would cost about half of that money, if not more, so I think his crowdfunding goal is not asking for much, if we can all chip in a little bit.

I like this concept not only because Tyler suckered me in with “I’m a momma’s boy and a geek,” (that’s like Jerry Maguire‘s “You had me at hello”), and I can see an educational benefit to school kids, but I can see how it might also help us professionals, especially technical communicators. Think about it for a moment. Cognitive science, as Tyler points out in his video, is about why we do what we do, and what elicits reactions or responses. How important is that to technical communication? Very important! So having a team of experts out there who can start helping others understand the power of cognitive science would be great. I’m all about STEM causes, and this sounds like a great one! You could also say that as an advocate of mobile learning, this is a different twist on that concept!

So, what are you waiting for? Throw a couple of dollars to the Think Tank cause. Hopefully, it will help!

About TechCommGeekMom

Danielle M. Villegas is a technical communicator who currently consults for Cox Automotive, Inc., and freelances as her own technical communications consultancy, Dair Communications. She has worked at the International Refugee Committee, MetLife, Novo Nordisk, BASF North America, Merck, and Deloitte, with a background in content strategy, web content management, social media, project management, e-learning, and client services. Danielle is best known in the technical communications world for her blog, TechCommGeekMom.com, which has continued to flourish since it was launched during her graduate studies at NJIT in 2012. She has presented webinars and seminars for Adobe, the Society for Technical Communication (STC), the IEEE ProComm, TCUK (ISTC) and at Drexel University’s eLearning Conference. She has written articles for the STC Intercom, STC Notebook, the Content Rules blog, and The Content Wrangler as well. She is very active in the STC, as a former chapter president for the STC-Philadelphia Metro Chapter, and is currently serving on three STC Board committees. You can learn more about Danielle on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/daniellemvillegas, on Twitter @techcommgeekmom, or through her blog.
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1 Response to Did I just see a big glowing brain on wheels pass by?

  1. Pingback: Neuroscience Truck Headed to NYC, Surprisingly Inexpensive | Great Ideas in Science and Technology (GIST)

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