CU-Boulder crowdfunding

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The University of Colorado on Friday announced the eight projects it will try to finance through crowdfunding, or the use of social networks to gather small contributions from a large number of people using an online donation platform.

The university is raising money for two senior films, research into converting carbon dioxide into fuels, educational resources for LGBTQ youth, swarm robotics research, teaching the Constitution to high schoolers, digitizing historical Colorado documents and market research into clean technologies.

Crowdfunding will not be used to provide revenue for university operations; rather, the fundraising tool is intended to engage the CU community, friends, family and alumni with what's happening on campus, said Ray Johnson a lecturer in the Leeds School of Business Deming Center for Entrepreneurship who's leading the university crowdfunding effort.

Bethy Leonardi and Sara Staley, two education doctoral students, are working to raise $20,000 for a project they've called "Breaking the Silence."

Leonardi and Staley said they plan to use the funding to create a documentary, four short videos and curriculum that encourages and supports teachers to create safe, inclusive spaces for LGBTQ students and allies.


"Over the last two years, we've lost at least 35 students that we know of who named their school experiences as the reason for their suicides," Leonardi said. "And there are also a lot of students who are really powerful and really proud of who they are, and they spend a lot of time in school and they're not supported to be there as themselves."

Anshul Kanakia and John Klingner, two doctoral students in computer science, are working with a team to study swarm intelligence using Droplets, or small, round robots.

Using the Droplets, the researchers hope to better understand and teach swarming, or the collective behavior of groups.

"By having relatively simple individual agents, if we put many of them together, that's more than the sum of the parts essentially," Klingner said.

Examples of swarming in nature include the collective behaviors of ant colonies or bees, he said.

The team hopes to raise $10,000 to create hundreds of Droplets for use in college courses, in K-12 classes and as art installations.

The more practical uses of swarming robots may include tasks like containing an oil spill in the ocean or a wildfire, Kanakia said.

Contact Camera Staff Writer Sarah Kuta at 303-473-1106, or