USA Science and Engineering Festival: The Blog

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Meet Nifty Fifty speaker Ben Dubin-Thaler.

With a refreshing measure of ingenuity, Ben Dubin-Thaler is proving that some of
the most exciting lessons in science can occur outside the classroom – in a bus.

That’s the Cell Motion BioBus, a self-powered, fully-equipped mobile microscopy
lab that Ben developed and operates to bring hands-on science education
to students in New York City and other areas, especially those who lack such
resources at school.

“I grew up loving science and looking through microscopes,” says Ben, the
biophysicist who founded and directs the non-profit Cell Motion Laboratories
which operates BioBus. “And now BioBus is just my way to bring the excitement I
felt as a kid to science students across New York City and the country.”

The BioBus vehicle – which Ben converted from a 1974 San Francisco transit
bus he purchased off of Craigslist shortly after completing his honors Ph.D. in
biophysics more than two years ago – is designed to be a veritable environment
for scientific discovery for schoolchildren and the general public.

For one thing, the bus runs on solar and wind power (thanks to solar panels on
the roof and wind turbines in the front of the vehicle), in addition to running on
waste vegetable oil (obtained from restaurants), giving students the opportunity
to learn about green technology. There is even a garden growing on top of the

To provide kids with insight into other areas of science, BioBus is also equipped
with research-grade microscopes, computers and a modern lab. In addition
to Ben and a small full-time crew, the mobile lab is staffed by scientists from
various research disciplines who volunteer their time. The bus visits more than
60 schools during the school year, bringing students exciting hands-on learning
experiences in a wide range of subjects – from biology and ecology to chemistry and materials science – through guided experiments and interaction with real-
life scientists.

Read more about Ben here

Watch more about the BioBus here!


  1. #1 Jeanne Garbarino
    April 13, 2011

    Dr. Ben and the BioBus is incredible. I have seen first hand how the eyes of the kids who visit the bus just light up in amazement. It is a very special feeling to see such young kids take a genuine interest in science!

    Also, I’ve written about this before – check it out:

  2. #2 Anonymous
    April 13, 2011

    My adviser started a similar project but without the eco stuff:

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