The project is called a Jam Bucket! Helping kids to explore and realize their imagination, curiosity, achievement, a basic understanding of circuits, electromagnetism, industrial design and a way to see their own creations come to life – it all comes in the Bucket.
The Jam Bucket is housed in a square plastic kitty litter style box (very durable and easy to find), can be mounted on a bike rack, has two 120 watt water resistant, marine speakers, an impressively long-lasting lithium-ion battery and a 20 watt amplifier. It requires a little bit of elbow grease, an afternoon worth of time and an interest in learning about basic electronics and hand tools.
I've had mine for two years, have taken it to the beach (a lot!), got caught in the rain, brought it on countless bike rides, and generally used it as much as possible. It has never needed repair and puts out enough bass that it once shook my mobile phone off the table and cracked the screen.
The idea was born when a friend came up with the original Jam Bucket design, mounted it to his bike and brought it on a bike ride about two years ago. So many people were interested in it, he helped 18 people make their own. Since then, I've been informally teaching students and friends how to make them using my personal Jam Bucket as a prototype.
Now, the MSW has agreed to donate space and tools to let me host an official build day the first weekend in December.
At this point, there is quite a backlog of interest! I have a list of about 20 workshop volunteers, parents, teachers, and approximately 25 students who would like to make one for themselves. My goal is to empower 10 adults and 10 kids to make their own sound systems, regardless of experience or expertise. For every Jam Bucket that an adult makes, I'd like to have a kid Bucket subsidized - aiming for 1:1 ratio. At $120 each for material costs, a Jam Bucket is out of reach for many of our students, most of whom are characterized as living below the poverty line.
I'd like to open the build day to any interested student, and don't want a lack of funds to be a barrier. I will use the grant to subsidize $100 in material costs for each of the 10 student Jam Buckets being built on that day, only asking for $20 from each student to help build their very own Jam Bucket.
I've been working on ways to cut the cost or redesign the Jam Bucket, but honestly, it's a steal at this cost. And the return on investment is immeasurable. I've helped students that wouldn't pick up tools on their own before building one; now, they love explaining circuits, exploring how sound works and showing others how to solder.
Every single person I know who has a Jam Bucket loves showing it off, talking about how easy it was to make, how much it’s inspired them to design and make new things and to explore and push their creative boundaries. Myself included. Making and having the ability to fix something you use and enjoy is nourishing. Being to use it as a tool to inspire and teach others is truly awesome.
Funded by San Francisco, CA (November 2014)