SOURCE: Overdeck Family Foundation; Simons Foundation

Overdeck Family Foundation; Simons Foundation

Overdeck Family Foundation; Simons Foundation

January 25, 2017 00:01 ET

Overdeck and Simons Foundations Launch "Science Everywhere" to Inspire Math and Science Learning Beyond the Classroom

National initiative will provide $500,000 for outside-school classroom projects through DonorsChoose.org, including five $5,000 prizes to the top projects

NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwired - Jan 25, 2017) - Overdeck Family Foundation and the Simons Foundation today launched Science Everywhere, an initiative to catalyze math and science learning beyond school walls, in partnership with DonorsChoose.org. Science Everywhere challenges teachers across the country to submit ideas on the DonorsChoose.org platform for creative, hands-on projects that inspire students to explore math and science outside the classroom. The foundations are providing nearly half a million dollars to match every donation, with the aim of engaging the public to collectively deliver nearly $1 million of science and math supplies to classrooms nationwide. In addition to engaging thousands of U.S. students in real-world math and science, at the end of the challenge a panel of judges led by astronaut Leland Melvin will award five $5,000 prizes to the teachers who submit the best ideas.

"As parents, we all know our children need to read to succeed. But frankly, with the technological revolution transforming every aspect of our economy, I believe our children's future success also depends on their ability to think critically and solve problems," said Laura Overdeck, chair of the Overdeck Family Foundation and founder and president of Bedtime Math. "We hope this opportunity sparks exciting opportunities for students to hone their critical thinking and problem-solving skills by DOING science and math, not just passively learning it."

"Most of us learn best by doing, and this is the idea behind Science Everywhere," said Marilyn Simons, president of the Simons Foundation. "We are asking teachers to come up with hands-on math and science projects that will challenge students to creatively problem solve and develop their critical thinking skills. These projects should also be fun and engaging so that teachers, students and parents see that science and math are for everyone."

Projects that are funded through Science Everywhere will also be part of a research study by University of Virginia Professor Robert Tai to understand the impact this type of out-of-school learning experience has on student engagement and success. Prof. Tai's past research has shown that students who pursued degrees in science and math became interested in the subjects before they reached high school, indicating the importance of reaching students early.

"Teachers are uniquely positioned to get students excited about math and science, and the generous match offer from Overdeck Family Foundation and the Simons Foundation will fund hundreds of projects that represent teachers' best ideas for getting students engaged in these subjects," said Charles Best, founder of DonorsChoose.org. "Science Everywhere gives teachers across the country the opportunity to extend learning beyond the classroom."

Teachers have until Friday, March 24, 2017 to submit qualifying projects on DonorsChoose.org to participate in the match offer and be considered for one of five $5,000 prizes. The panel of judges will convene over the summer and the winning teachers will be announced on September 5, 2017.

Judges will use a comprehensive rubric to determine how well each project meets the goals of Science Everywhere. Winning projects must:

  • Cover core math and science topics;
  • Promote creative, engaging hands-on learning outside of class;
  • Clearly articulate a process with a beginning, middle, and end;
  • Include goals and a method for measuring learning outcomes;
  • Demonstrate student learning as measured by external research evaluation; and
  • Be easily replicable in a wide range of environments. 

To kick off Science Everywhere, Overdeck Family Foundation, the Simons Foundation, and DonorsChoose.org have identified six "Science Ambassadors," a group of exceptional teachers who have already demonstrated the value of outside-school math and science activities with their students and who will help judge the competition. Some have already completed projects through DonorsChoose.org that can help teachers interested in Science Everywhere develop submissions and see how the most creative ideas impact student learning. The Science Ambassadors are:

  • Amani Abuhabsah, Dawes Elementary School (Chicago, IL): Has completed 153 projects with DonorsChoose.org, including "Understanding the Stresses of Minimum Wage" which allowed students to apply financial literacy concepts to real-life scenarios
  • Angela Bergman, Westside High School (Omaha, NE): 2013 Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) winner
  • Lisa Frank, Livingston Elementary School (Columbus, OH): Has completed 75 projects with DonorsChoose.org, including a recycling and upcycling program that students incorporated at home and throughout the school
  • Patrick Honner, Brooklyn Technical High School (New York, NY): 2013 Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) winner; Runner-up for the 2012 Rosenthal Prize for Innovation in Math Teaching
  • Barbara Rice, Prince Edward County Middle School (Farmville, VA): Funded "Weekend Weather Kits" project through DonorsChoose.org, which enabled students to observe and record weather events outside of class
  • Claudia Walker, Murphey Traditional Academy (Greensboro, NC): Career Award for Science and Mathematics Teachers from the Burroughs Welcome Fund in 2010; Teacher of the Year at Murphey Traditional Academy in 2009 and 2015; NAS Teacher Advisory Council Member

Teachers interested in participating in the challenge can access more information about submitting projects here. Members of the public interested in supporting a classroom project can visit this page to find a request that speaks to them.

About Overdeck Family Foundation
Demonstrating a passion and commitment to the future of American education, John and Laura Overdeck established the Overdeck Family Foundation in 2011. The foundation seeks to help all kids achieve their greatest potential by funding compelling, innovative programs and projects that have proven, quantifiable results.

About the Simons Foundation
Established in 1994, the Simons Foundation is a private foundation dedicated to advancing the frontiers of research in mathematics and the basic sciences. Science Sandbox, an initiative of the Simons Foundation, seeks to unlock scientific thinking by engaging people with the process of science.

About DonorsChoose.org
Founded in 2000 by a Bronx history teacher, DonorsChoose.org has raised $500 million for America's classrooms. Teachers come to DonorsChoose.org to request the materials and experiences they need most for their classrooms, and donors give to the projects that inspire them. To date, nearly 2.5 million people and partners have funded projects on the site, reaching 21.6 million students and making DonorsChoose.org the leading platform for supporting U.S. public schools.

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