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$1 Million Campaign to Encourage Innovation in K-12 Math and Science Begins

A competition created by the Overdeck Family Foundation and the Simons Foundation in partnership with DonorsChoose.org is encouraging U.S. teachers to submit their math and science project ideas to the DonorsChoose platform for a chance to win both funding for the project and $5,000 in prizes.

The two foundations will, together, be providing $500,000 to match every donation with the hope that the public will match their donation and collectively provide $1 million to fund math and science projects in the U.S.

The initiative is hopeful that teachers will look at teaching math and science in new ways to not only inspire more students to pursue careers in the respective subjects, but to also ensure that all students generally have a solid understanding of these subjects outside of the classroom.

Teachers will have until Friday, March 24, 2017, to submit their ideas on DonorsChoose.org for both the matching opportunity and to be considered as one of five winners who will receive a $5,000 prize. Winners are to be announced September 5, 2017, after a panel of judges uses the summer months to convene.

Submissions will be judged on the following criteria:

  • 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.

Total cost of each project must be kept under $2,000, which totals to about $1,600 worth of supplies.

After submitting a project, it will be viewed by the initiative's reviewers and once approved will begin receiving matching donations from the Overdeck Family Foundation and Simons Foundation.

To guarantee the initiative's success, a group of pre-vetted exceptional teachers have been selected to help teachers interested in creating winning submissions.

Called "Science Ambassadors," these teachers have completed dozens of projects via DonorsChoose and have been recognized for their work in teaching science and math with numerous awards and distinctions.

To determine the initiative's success, a researcher from the University of Virginia will be studying attitudes toward STEM-outside-school learning throughout. Researcher Rob Tai will be sending pre-and post-program surveys to teachers; teachers will be contacted when they are two days away from reaching their funding goal.

To read details about how to enter, see here.

Nicole Gorman, Senior Education World Contributor

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