11 Cool Kickstarter Campaigns Changing Education

If Kickstarter can help get a Veronica Mars movie in the theaters, imagine what the crowdsourcing vehicle can do in an area that truly matters: Education.

Long lamented as being chronically underfunded and under appreciated, check out some of these projects that are doing their part to make a difference.

1. Bring Reading Rainbow Back for Every Child, Everywhere

What it is: LeVar Burton wants to bring Reading Rainbow’s unlimited library of interactive books and video field trips to classrooms in need and to kids everywhere.

Why it’s changing education: Reading Rainbow has successfully used television and tablets to bring books to kids, but not everyone has access to tablets. Teachers have also said they want Reading Rainbow in their classrooms. When the campaign meets its initial goal of $1 million, the program can be placed in over 1,500 classrooms at no cost to the schools.

Details: In just one day, the campaign blew past its fundraising goal of $1 million. Funding ends July 2nd. Once the initial goal is reached, the campaign has big ideas for stretch goals. There are even Star Trek rewards ($110 gets a signed headshot from LeVar).

2. Story Time From Space

What it is: Astronauts on the space station are reading books to children and conducting science experiments.

Why it’s changing education: This program is already happening through NASA, building on the wonder of space flight to encourage families and students to participate in reading and science. The campaign hopes to make the program more widely available.

Details: With a deadline of July 6, Story Time From Space is only 12 percent funded towards its $35,000 goal. The initial goal is to use this money to edit the videos and get the website/electronic library up and running.

3. The Lizzie Project

What it is: A film following Lizzie Velasquez’s life, her journey to the other side of bullying, and her mission to inspire a more positive online world. Lizzie is one of only three in the world with a rare syndrome that prevents her from gaining weight.

Why it’s changing education: After finding a YouTube video calling her “The Ugliest Woman in the World,” Lizzie has become a motivational speaker to combat online bullying. This topic is especially pertinent for kids today.

Details: Funding ended June 1st. Because the campaign succeeded and exceeded its funding goal, there’s a stretch goal: Anything raised beyond its $180,000 goal will go towards post-production of the film and distribution efforts.

4. Code Monkey Island

What it is: A family friendly board game that introduces kids to programming concepts.

Why it’s changing education: Programming is fast becoming an essential skill, yet it isn’t part of the core elementary school curriculum. This will help kids get ahead of the curve.

Details: Funding ends June 6, 2014. Because the campaign has succeeded and exceeded its funding goal, there’s a stretch goal: If they make it to $30,000, the Code Monkey Island Explorer’s Guide Booklet — which explains how the concepts in the game are used in real programming — will be included with every game.

5. SparkLab

What it is: A group of Stanford students created this Kickstarter as a result of a thesis project when they discovered that many schools don’t have the flexibility or equipment to support hands-on building. They raised money for a truck and high-tech maker equipment, and then expanded with SparkTruck.

Why it’s changing education: The “bookmobile of making” is traveling the country engaging students, and has collected an Innovation by Design Award from FastCompany along the way. All of this because the entrepreneurs found that student engagement is one of the best predictors of academic success.

Details: This was successfully funded on March 24, 2012 — exceeding its goal by $6,275 — and has had two cross-country voyages, thousands of interactions, and hosted a workshop on how to incorporate hands-on learning in classrooms.

6. The Odyssey Initiative

What it is: Three experienced teachers launched this expedition across all 50 states to learn and share best practices from America’s best teachers and then build a public school in Brooklyn. They created an interactive website to share their discoveries.

Why it’s changing education: The initiative is using its knowledge to develop schools in historically disadvantaged communities and improve the discussion about education policy.

Details: The project was successfully funded on July 28, 2012 — exceeding its goal by $7,342 — and is continuing its journey across the country.

7. GoldieBlox

What it is: A construction toy and book series starring Goldie, the kid inventor who loves to build. It’s an engineering toy built for girls.

Why it’s changing education: Debbie Sterling, a Stanford engineer, created GoldieBlox to inspire girls to develop an early interest and skill set in engineering. It won Educational and People’s Choice Toy of the Year for 2014 and will hopefully increase the number of women in STEM areas.

Details: Successfully funded on Oct. 18, 2012 — exceeding its goal by $135,881 — GoldieBlox recovered from its legal battle with the Beastie Boys over a song used in its viral ad and still sells products online and in stores.

8. “History By Imagication”

What it is: A series of short video tutorials on world history, U.S. history, and U.S. government and politics. The videos include reenactments and humorous narration.

Why it’s changing education: Heath Hamrick has long been trying to convince students that history isn’t boring. History teachers can contribute to the problem, so in these videos, he aims to help teachers and students see how entertaining the subject can be.

Details: Successfully funded on March 28, 2013 — exceeding its goal by $100 — and videos can be seen on YouTube.

9. LIBRARY FOR ALL

What it is: A digital library platform for those who have little or no access to books at a much lower cost than building physical libraries. It’s a digital library for the developing world.

Why it’s changing education: A technological solution for the library already exists, but they’re working on tailoring it to fit the need. They plan to continue partnerships with content providers — such as publishers, schools, organizations, and governments — to reach 5 million users around the world within the next five years. By increasing access to books and knowledge, children will have increased opportunities.

Details: Successfully funded on July 13, 2013 — exceeding its goal by $9,955 — Library For All has launched its Six Degrees of Education campaign to help millions of students access a digital library.

10. The Sonnet Man

What it is: An “edutainment” music project featuring rap artist Devon Glover, who sets Shakespeare’s sonnets to hip hop.

Why it’s changing education: This approach to Shakespeare makes an often-difficult genre more accessible to students, which will hopefully increase their appreciation for the arts and improve literacy.

Details: Successfully funded on August 16, 2013 — exceeding its goal by $561 — the Sonnet Man continues to make appearances.

11. Spread Math Bonanzas (Math Fun for Kids!)

What it is: Tom Clymer wanted others to benefit from the math contest he created for his school district, so he created this Kickstarter to help others get Math Bonanza materials.

Why it’s changing education: Clymer has shown how easy it is to host a contest, and that math competitions can be fun as well as educational.

Details: Successfully funded on Nov. 20, 2013 — exceeding its goal by $404 — Clymer continues to run math contests and help others with theirs.