I’m including this post so that we have a record of general start-up funds that we spent to get things going. When compared to the SSHRC ask, the most significant difference was the amount we were able to put towards the research graduate students.
It started with realizing that we needed some base funding to get the ball rolling. And I think crunching formally began around early December (2014) if I recall correctly. In essence, the science creativity project has three core components that each needed funding.
One of these components included providing a salary for the graduate students (science MSCs or Phds and creative writing MFAs) who are actually being involved in the field trips as authentic instructors/mentors (i.e. the “teaching” staff). As described in the SSHRC grant, for each field trip, this teaching team primary consisted of one Science grad and one Creative Writing grad (we hired a rotating team of 6 grads), with a Creative Writing undergraduate student providing additional support. The student contact time itself lasted about 4 hours per field trip, so the total time calculated for compensation was set at 5 hours per session. Each grad student received a stipend roughly equivalent to current TA rates ($25 per hour), with the undergrad helper being paid $12.50 per hour.
All told, and if you calculate approximate cost of supplies and reagents at about $100 per session, this meant that each field trip would cost about $400 each. Generally speaking, we would try to do 15 of these sessions each year (the SSHRC grant was hoping to double this), so total cost of field trip delivery (not counting in-kind costs associated with infrastructure or my technician’s time) would result in a grand total of about $6000. Note, however, this 15 session expenditure is part of my lab’s ongoing programming costs and was not included in the SSHRC ask.
The second component pertained to hiring Education graduate students to do the heavy lifting associated with the research component. Here, I managed to find some funding to set up two GRA (Graduate Research Assitant) stipends. This would encompass 2 grad students working for 20 weeks at 5 hours per week, at a rate of $25 per hour: a total of $5000.
With this rubric in mind, we sent out a job ad in late January, with a mind to hire for the second week of February (20 weeks from Feb 9th would take us to roughly the end of June). More on this in a later post.
The third component was setting up some infrastructure that would make survey taking and analysis a lot easier. I was umming and ahhing about this for a while, but considering that we would possibly have about 800 or so surveys to wade through (this includes responses from a pre and post set-up), it made a lot of sense to invest in this. As well, I have other projects in my lab that would greatly benefit from having a suite of laptops around (some of our teacher professional workshops come to mind).
In the end, I decided to purchase a set of 30 Chromebooks (specifically, the Acer Chromebook NX.MQNAA.004, 11.6″), given the fact that these laptops were super affordable, low maintenance, were relatively resistance to quick obsolescence, and that the set-up for Google Apps for Education seemed like a handy thing to take advantage of. Anyway, each one of these machines retailed for about $250 (before taxes), so the total cost for this set up was about $8500.
Anyway, with these three pieces in tow, we were ready to start. First big step: hiring the research team!