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