Science and Art in Uganda

We are partnering with S.O.U.L. (Supporting Opportunities for Ugandans to Learn) (, to bring much needed art and science initiatives to Bujigali Falls, Uganda. S.O.U.L. is a not-for-profit founded in 2009 by then-23 year old Brooke Stern and her father, and after two in-person meetings, we are eager to begin working on projects that have the sincere support of local Ugandans. In principle, S.O.U.L. operates only with local support; students attend their programs, half supported by their own money, so that they are stakeholders in their education and future.

I am a PhD research scientist and instructor at Columbia University in NYC, where I teach a wide range of topics (neuroscience, physics, evolution, and earth science). My husband, Shane, is a site-specific artist (painter, sculptor, and performance artist) completing his Masters of Fine Arts degree at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Shane's project will be to design and construct with local children and adults an outside community structure that will function as a tribute to past successes, and inspire continued community investment. The location for this sculpture will be outside a newly constructed community building. Initial design stages will happen by phone and email, where Shane will be talking with village volunteers to create a shared vision. On the ground, Shane will lead the construction of the sculpture from start to finish, using local materials such as red clay soil, brick and steel.

I will be leading an effort to bring science-based education opportunities to the area. Right now this is a three-pronged effort: (1) to evaluate current science courses and to implement more effective teaching practices, (2) to create a peer-led learning program, where students who show promise in the sciences are taught to lead others, and (3) plan an interactive learning center. This last project may potentially involve harnessing Africa's greatest resource (the sun!). I have been in contact with a college student-teacher team from Massachusetts that successfully constructed a solar-powered microscope that they then brought to Haiti after hurricanes wrecked that country in 2008.

For maximum impact, we will need to be on-site for up to a four-week period during the months of July and August. Therefore, our funding goal of $10,000 includes flights ($2,000 pp), material sculpture and installation costs, microscope and equipment, and potentially textbooks. As a way of becoming accustomed to the community, we will be staying with a village family, but there are still fees associated with lodging and security (~1,000 pp.). All donations are tax-deductible. Our work expands beyond the time spent on the ground in Uganda; monies raised in excess will be further used to enhance this initiative.

Thank you for your generosity!

Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or suggestions. We will update our progress on these projects as they become available.
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Rachel Smith 
New York, NY
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