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Kit Club Delivers Hands-on Science to Schools in Need

Thanks to Motorola Solutions Foundation and Science Buddies' Kit Club, 17 classrooms in Chicago and Houston received grants for hands-on science kits during the 2017-18 school year.

Kit Club helps provide science kits to classrooms to increase opportunities for hands-on science learning

Above: Using kits provided by Science Buddies' Kit Club, students are able to do hands-on STEM projects ranging from chemistry to robotics. The student above is exploring Electric Play Dough.

Putting Science in their Hands

Teachers know that hands-on learning opportunities can make a tremendous difference in teaching science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) concepts to students and sparking interest in STEM careers, but many teachers are struggling to procure even basic supplies for their classrooms. Money to buy materials to enable hands-on science is simply not there. In fact, according to teachers who responded to Science Buddies' annual educator survey, lack of funding is one of the top four barriers to doing hands-on science in the K-12 classroom. With Kit Club, Science Buddies works with partner organizations to address this problem by providing classrooms with science kits at no charge to the school.

The Science Buddies Kit Club program, piloted during the 2016-2017 school year, helps companies directly support K-12 STEM education in their communities. Science Buddies works with Kit Club sponsors to identify underserved schools in areas that match the sponsor's corporate giving and makes a grant for science kits to local teachers who are eager to have the benefit of high-quality, hands-on STEM learning materials and supplies for their students.

"Our funds are limited, and we do not always have the materials needed to explore and do science experiments."
~ Teacher, Houston, TX

Supporting Hands-on STEM in Houston and Chicago

Through the Science Buddies Kit Club, Motorola Solutions Foundation funded science kits for 17 classrooms in Title 1 schools in Chicago, IL and Houston, TX during the 2017-18 school year. After being selected as a Kit Club grant recipient, teachers choose up to 30 kits from the Kit Club catalog. Teachers have full autonomy in selecting kits that best match their curriculum or student interest. Kits available to Kit Club teachers range from the Electric Play Dough, Crystal Radio, and Electrolyte Challenge kits to the Bristlebot and Advanced Bristlebot robotics kits. All kits are specifically developed for use with scientist- and engineer-authored projects and activities on the Science Buddies site. (Complete NGSS-aligned Lesson Plans are also available for some kits.)

With its Kit Club sponsorship, Motorola Solutions Foundation provided engineering and technology kits to support teachers and classrooms at the following schools:

Chicago:
Castellanos Elementary, CICS Prairie, Lowell Elementary, Mark Twain Elementary, Shields Elementary, UCW Charter School, Wadsworth STEM School
Houston:
Cimarron Elementary, Housman Elementary, Normandy Crossing Elementary, North Shore Elementary, Purple Sage Elementary
(Note: Multiple teachers received grants at some of the schools listed.)
"With all the recent education budget cuts, we are lacking many resources we need to ensure our students are successful. Without the Science Buddies Kits, my students would be watching more videos online and less hands-on."
~ Teacher, Houston, TX

Tangible Support for Local Classrooms

Through Kit Club, Science Buddies and partner organizations are helping increase STEM opportunities in classrooms around the country. Kit Club grants make it possible for teachers to plan hands-on science with students that might otherwise be impossible due to lack of funding.

Angela Herring, a teacher at Normandy Crossing Elementary in Houston, used her kits to help her students make stronger real-world connections with science. According to Herring, students at her Title 1 school have access to limited real-world experiences. Kit Club gave Herring an invaluable way to spark interest in her students at a young age, a spark she believes sets the stage for future years of STEM learning. "In kindergarten, we are building a foundation to learning and opening the doors to a whole new world," said Herring. Receiving Kit Club support was "a great opportunity to incorporate more STEM activities," she added. "The lessons went along with our standards and made learning more fun. When students have fun, they retain the information better."

Another teacher at Normandy Crossing Elementary agreed, noting that Kit Club was a "perfect solution" and made it possible to do more science with students. "Our funds are limited, and we do not always have the materials needed to explore and do science experiments."

Providing Materials Teachers Desperately Need

When given the chance, many teachers want to do more hands-on science in the classroom. Kit Club helps make it possible for teachers to provide these learning opportunities for their students. Some teachers work the kits into their curriculum, and others use the kits for special hands-on exploration. Jimmy Giacona, a teacher at Cimmaron Elementary in Houston, used the kits he received for his classroom as part of an intensive science review before standardized testing started.

"Working in a Title I district is never easy," said Giacona. "It becomes more challenging when politics get in the way of our youth's education. With all the recent education budget cuts, we are lacking many resources we need to ensure our students are successful. Without the Science Buddies Kits, my students would be watching more videos online and less hands-on."

Companies Care About Local Schools

Science Buddies is proud to work with partners like Motorola Solutions Foundation to help supplement classroom materials for teachers who want to be able to create rich hands-on STEM learning experiences for their students. "We are thankful for the generous support of our Kit Club sponsors who share in our vision to make quality STEM education opportunities available to all students," said Tina Lanese, Vice President of Science Buddies.

With Kit Club, Science Buddies is creating a path towards improved access to STEM materials, one that may help seed student interest in STEM careers in the future. Kit Club is a concrete example of Science Buddies' commitment to the importance of hands-on science and engineering for K-12 students. In its first two years, Kit Club has provided more than 1,300 science kits for students in U.S. classrooms.

"It is very rewarding to see a student's eyes light up with excitement at building their first robot or to hear a teacher's story about how our science kits helped them engage a student who had otherwise shown little connection to STEM topics," said Lanese. "We are thrilled to be making these experiences possible with our Kit Club program."

If your organization is interested in learning more about being a Kit Club sponsor, please contact us at scibuddy@sciencebuddies.org.

"We are thankful for the generous support of our Kit Club sponsors who share in our vision to make quality STEM education opportunities available to all students."
~ Tina Lanese, Vice President of Science Buddies


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