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New Grant from Schmidt Futures Will Support Science Teachers and Maker-Centered Learning in Underserved California Schools

September 26, 2018
Author: University Communications
September 26, 2018

The California Science Project (CSP), supported by the College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences at UCR, has received a $300,000 grant from Schmidt Futures, a philanthropic initiative founded by Eric and Wendy Schmidt, that will allow CSP to bolster K-12 science education and maker-centered learning in California.

“Every student in California deserves the opportunity to experience what it feels to be a scientist or an engineer to solve problems,” says Maria Simani, Executive Director of the California Science Project. “The CSP has supported this mission since 1988. This program will help demonstrate that through educator collaborations we can provide new learning experiences that empower high school students to be problem-solvers and critical thinkers.”

The grant supports a pilot program called “Making Science,” which is focused on implementing the engineering practices included in the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) that all California students are expected to learn. To start, teams of four science teachers from five high schools will become “Making Science Fellows” with the aim to demonstrate how the rigor of science, the analytical design methods of engineering, and the playful inventiveness of Making all fit together, and can have a positive impact on society and the planet. The lessons from the pilot effort will then be incorporated into the CSP’s overall efforts to effectively implement NGSS for all California students.

Making Science Fellows will be selected from high schools across 11 counties in California’s Central Valley, a region with a high proportion of English language learners and students who are eligible for free or reduced lunch. Each Making Science Fellow will receive a $4500 stipend, and each team receives a $7,000 materials grant.

“This award is a testament to the exceptional work of the California Science Project in working with teachers to strengthen k-12 education,” said Kathryn Uhrich, dean of the College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences (CNAS) at UCR. “CNAS is proud to support their efforts.”

Hosted by the University of California Office of the President, the California Science Project is a university‐based network providing the infrastructure across the state for high-quality professional development to pre‐K through university teachers. CSP utilizes highly skilled teams of educators, scientists, and other content experts drawn from universities, school districts, and other educational providers working towards the common goal of improving science education for all California students, with a special focus on the needs of English learners and high‐need schools.

The program ties into the broader Maker Movement, where an increasing number of Americans young and old are using new low-cost tools, community spaces and local fairs, and collaboration with peers, to bring their ideas to life.

“We believe the Maker Movement plays an important role in scaffolding teachers and students toward true engineering practices – and has the potential to excite students in applying the science they are learning in ways that can have a positive impact on their community,” says Jim Vanides, Program Manager for the Making Science initiative.

The grant builds on Schmidt Futures’ continued focus on increasing access for children and adults to discovery and invention and supporting efforts like the Maker Movement. For more information, contact the California Science Project (www.cspso.org) and follow CSPMakingScience on Facebook.

About Schmidt Futures

Schmidt Futures is a philanthropic initiative, founded by Eric and Wendy Schmidt, that seeks to improve societal outcomes through the thoughtful development of emerging science and technologies that can benefit humanity. As a venture facility for public benefit, they invest risk capital in the most promising ideas and exceptional people across disciplines. Learn more at schmidtfutures.com

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