The next time you hit the Like button or Tweet, you could actually be doing something useful.

You are clicking away at your computer much to the irritation of your parents. “Why don’t you do your homework instead of fooling around,” they ask. Here’s how you can answer them right.

In May and June, students of a school in Kansas City created a car that ran on Social Media. The car’s electric power train was powered by a battery fuelled by tweets, Facebook posts and/or Instagram pics.

The students replaced the engine with an electric one but the engine ran on social fuel. When you send a tweet to the car’s Twitter account, an electric signal is sent to a box which tops up the social fuel of the car! If there is not enough social fuel, power to the electric motor is cut off and the car stops.

This first-of-its-kind project involved driving from Kansas City to Washington, D.C fuelled by social media. The project which started out as an after-school activity grew to be called “Mind Drive”, and facilitated “Learning through experience”.

Feed the car

The drive to Washington, D.C was undertaken to try and convince lawmakers for the need of “hands-on” education.

The socially fuelled car completed the 1,000 mile (Over 1,600 km) journey on June 6. There were 17 high school students who embarked on the trip. The car used was a two-seater Ghia, a 1967 model two-seater restored car and the journey began on May 31. The trip, soon began to be called “Social Fuel Tour”, was able to teach underprivileged children the importance of Math and Science and also increased awareness about social media.

The Mind Drive project assigned different values to different actions. A follow on Twitter equalled Five Watts, A Like on Facebook equalled one watt. Signing an online petition was worth 10 watts and any shares, re-tweets, or mentions on Twitter added three watts.

The students expected to need 75,000 Watts for their trip. They fuelled up 225,000 watts (three times what they expected) before the trip!

Originally the participants had called the conversation, “Feed the car” but when they had enough power to make it to Washington, D.C. they changed it to “Feed the car to feed the message”.

While the project originally appealed to teenagers and school students, business magazines like Forbes , and Huffington Post got into the act too.

Read about the project on www.minddrive.org