Electric Science World


For some time I have been planning a small scale, side of the highway 
tourist attraction and educational reasource to be called Electric 
Science World (trade mark).  This place will be like a theme park for 
big sparks.  Offered will be a superb electricity 'oooh and awe' show 
in an electrical theatre with seating for 50 to 100 patrons.  An 
emphasis will be placed on explaining what is going on as an entry 
level educational program for the lay public and school children.

I propose to set up ESW in a touristy area in southern Ontario where 
there will be easy access for a large school base (Toronto area 
preferred).  There are three existing science centres in Ontario at 
present.  These are all big operations, one with over a hundred 
employees, I-max Theatres, etc., running on annual budgets of $5 
million or more.  Of these, Ontario Science Centre, Toronto, has a 
dinky little electrical theatre with a dinky little electrical show.  
There is the National Museum of Science & Technology in Ottawa with a 
similarly dinky electrical theatre and show,  neither of these 
institutions has anything that any of us would call a Tesla coil!  
The third institution, Science North in Sudbury, ditto for the Tesla 
coil and they have no electrical theatre at all.  No where in all of Ontario,
and I believe also for all of Canada, is there an opportunity for the general
public to see a fairly large Tesla coil in operation, except at my lab right now 
out in rural Ontario.  If I had a more suitable location than my country backroad
which sees maybe 10 cars a day, I'd put out a big sign, 'Lighning Show' right 
now!  There, that's my market research.

I propose to stage an electricity show with all of the neat high 
voltage toys ever seen at science centres based on the high voltage 
theme.  Examples include the Van de Graaff generator (with 
participation from long hairs in the audience), wire exploder, can 
crusher/coin shrinker (perhaps with a lucky winner of the shrunken 
object drawn from an admission ticket draw), floor to ceiling Jacob's 
Ladder driven from a pole pig, a vacuum tube driven Tesla coil  (2-5 
kW) with the presenter doing all sorts of luminous tube experiments and 
body spark contact tricks, possibly a Franklin's Chimes demo, and as 
a grande finale, a powerful pair of tandem, disruptive discharge 
Tesla coils throwing lightning at each other across the stage.  If  I 
can find a big enough room, I believe I can achieve streamers over a 
distance of 40 to 50 feet for this effect with coils that I can build 

In addition to the theatre, there will be a science and souvenir gift 
shop selling all the usual stuff from ESW T-shirts, to plasma globes 
and even Tesla coils.  I also wish to launch an educational outreach 
program from this base to take the show to the schools when the 
school can't make it to the show.  I've just been contacted by a 
special science program at the public library in nearby Lindsay who 
wish to hire me to do my first outreach show!  I'm going to take my 
portable small disruptive TC (40 inch streamers on 115 volts), and my 
vacuum tube coil (18 inch streamers from 115 volts) because it does 
superb luminous tube experiments and painless sparks to the hand.
There was recently an article about my Tesla coiling work in the 
local Lindsay newspaper. The public awareness of what I have to offer has
finally begun.

I have been looking for a suitable commercial or farm, metal clad 
building with at least 5000 square feet and 20 foot plus ceiling 
height.  I'd like to find this kind of suitable outbuilding on a farm 
property because I'm simultaneously looking for a new place to live.

Unlike the megabuck budgets of the big science centres, I believe I can operate
ESW  on a small scale with perhaps myself and one part-time talented and 
motivated employee plus volunteers/students.  This thing could fly 
with a cashflow of $25K/year which means 5000 visitors at $5.00 each, 
which is 20 people per day for 250 days of the year.  It is 
alternately two school trips per week, all year round with 30 
students at a time (166 trips).

WHAT I HAVE NOW: is enough equipment collected  to start an entry
level show as soon as I inhabit a suitable building.  I have single tower Tesla 
coils which can throw streamers in the 12 to 20 foot range which will 
be a great start.  I have a suitable starter vacuum tube TC , large Altec Lansing,
'Voice of the Theatre' sound system for prerecorded thunder and other mood
enhancing effect.  I have a 15'X20' front projection screen and a powerful
Eidophor video projector which can fill it well, and I have the machine shop to 
fabricate much of the other high voltage exhibits required.  I have a 
local lead on used movie theatre seats for 5 bucks apiece.  I have 
financial backing of about $150K which can be used to purchase a farm 
property for ESW if I also use it as my principle residence.  I have great ambition
and enthusiasm for this project.

WHAT I NEED;  is a concensus by way of letters (e-mail) about your 
thoughts on the probable public response and commercial success of 
this venture.  I realise that I'm talking here to a crowd that is 
likely to give me an unrealistically favourable 'thumbs-up', no matter 
what, so please try to be objective!

WHAT I ALSO NEED;  is to find an interested rich industrialist, corporation
or benevolent lottery winner that would underwrite the property taxes and other
basic expenses to the tune of $10K per year based on its contribution to 
society as an educational resource.  This might be done as an 
outright gift or through a specially setup trust fund.  What I have found in my 42 
years is that I cannot be in two places at the same time.  I cannot 
be working full time championing ESW while I am out working another 
job to pay the taxes or rent, heat and light, etc.   

I'd also like to find someone who is as keen on this as me, who would 
like to put in $100K or more and become an active business partner.  
I would welcome someone with promotions experience and business 
savvy.  It would help a lot if this person also knew which way to 
turn a screwdriver!
I WOULD WELCOME;  donations of any size to the ESW Development Fund.
At the very least they would help with my gas expenses while I run 
all over Ontario in my property search, and for my promotional 
communications expenses.  Please make checks payable to Robert Stephens.

If anyone would like to donate a Van de Graaff suitable for the stage 
show or outreach program, or any other equipment so applicable I 
would also appreciate it.

I would love to hear from any of you about this.  FYI, pictures of my 
Tesla coil work may be found at 
ftp://nic.funet.fi/pub/sci/electrical/tesla/pictures/rws.  I hope to 
have my own home page up and running soon promoting ESW with the 
generous assistance of fellow coiler, list member, and graphic 
artist Jeff Parisse.

Robert W. Stephens (705-328-2997)
Director, Lindsay Scientific Co.
Founder, Electric Science World (TM)(corporation pending)

I hope that Chip will post this as it is definitely in support of 
Tesla coils!

[OK, I'll post it, but...
 1) Steven Roys (sroys-at-anchorage.ab.umd.edu) has a great list for
    non-tesla coil High Voltage discussions. 

 2) I kind of get the creeps posting stuff requesting donations

 3) Private feedback to me with opinions on the appropriateness of this
    are welcome

 4) RW Stephens should be recognized for his great contributions to this
    list, and commended for his efforts.

 -- Chip ]