The next time your mom yells at you for constantly tweeting, Facebooking, and liking your friends’ selfies and food porn Instagrams, you can tell her it’s for a good cause. A group of Kansas City high school students, with the guidance of mentors, have constructed a vehicle that can run and be fueled by your many social activities.
Minddrive – a non-profit that works with troubled teens and provides programs to get them interested about learning and building things – rounded up a team to convert a 1967 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia into an electric car and configure it to use “social media watts” sourced from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. Aside from having a lithium-ion battery pack and electric motor to replace the original engine, the car reportedly uses a tablet PC installed within the its main circuits to monitor all social activity relevant to powering the reconstructed vehicle. Additionally, the team built a prototype based on the Ghia designed for short distance use (30 miles) at a maximum speed of 45 miles per hour. The students intend to produce at least one prototype – mainly made of wood, a sustainable material – per month and sell it as a kit to fund the program.
Every single thing you do online can help the social media powered car get to its destination. You can follow Minddrive on Twitter and give the car five social watts of power. Mentions, retweets, replies, the #minddrive hashtag on Twitter, Facebook comments or shares, YouTube views, Instagram photo tags and comments each contribute three social watts. Every “like” they get on Facebook and Instagram corresponds to one watt, while each petition signature is worth 10 watts. At time the of press, the petition stands at 741 signatures, and it needs a total of 100,000 signatures by June 19, 2013 to maximize the car’s social media fuel.
Perhaps gimmicky, but the idea that your social media activities are actually powering something in real life is innovative at the very least – and charitable at the best. Minddrive says it found inspiration from VML, an online marketing agency. “It seemed like a perfect way for our high school students to tell Minddrive’s story along with their own personal success stories,” Linda Buchner, president of Minddrive, tells us. “We wanted to build on our existing program by telling our story in a different way than we’d done before.”
To put the project to the test, Minddrive is planning a road trip for the Ghia this coming June, with the students themselves driving the car from Kansas to Washington, D.C.; They’ll also make stops at various locations along the way to make presentations to the public.
“The goal of Minddrive’s Social Fuel Tour is to spark a national conversation and generate awareness about hands-on learning,” Buchner says. “We ultimately want to support programs like Minddrive across the nation and have an impact that facilitates STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) education and workforce skills training.”