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David Pogue on "Hunting the Elements"
Samples of chemical elements are spread out on a periodic table for David Pogue, host of “Hunting the Elements.” Now Pogue and the “Nova” documentary team are raising money for a sequel. (WGBH Photo / Cara Feinberg)

Kickstarter has given a boost to science projects ranging from satellites to “Bill Nye: Science Guy,” but now it’s opening a new frontier for crowdfunding: “Nova” documentaries for public TV.

Today marks the start of a 30-day “Make Science for All” campaign, pitched by the “Nova” team at WGBH and tech reporter David Pogue.

The objective is to raise at least $1 million for a two-hour broadcast special, “Beyond the Elements,” which Pogue would host. If the Kickstarter total reaches $2.25 million, that would fund a wider variety of multimedia works and make the show available for viewing at schools across the country.

“Beyond the Elements” would follow up on “Hunting the Elements,” an earlier program that was hosted by Pogue. The first film was based on Theodore Gray’s coffee-table book, “The Elements,” a colorful chronicle of all the elements on the periodic table.

The sequel would take the story a step further, showing how a limited set of atoms combine to form the tens of millions of substances that make up our world.

Kickstarter supporters can receive premiums ranging from a digital membership in the “Super Nova Science Society” ($10) to a live event with Pogue as emcee ($5,000). Contributors kicked in more than $7,500 in the first few hours of the campaign, which ends March 3.

“For ‘Nova,’ the real value of Kickstarter isn’t just financial support,” John Bredar, WGBH’s vice president of national programming, said in a news release. “What really excites us is the opportunity to team up directly with ‘Nova’ fans and science lovers.”

Such campaigns could become part of the standard toolset for public broadcasting, particularly if the White House and the Republican-led Congress follow through on reported plans to cut federal funding for cultural programs.

About $445 million was budgeted for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting over the last fiscal year. Most of that money was distributed to the nation’s nearly 1,500 public radio and TV stations. CPB’s support makes up about 15 percent of total funding for public broadcasting, with the rest coming from private and corporate donors.

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