Five Teachers Win $5,000 from Science Everywhere for Outside-School Projects that Bring Math and Science to Life

Prizes awarded to innovative elementary, middle, and high school teachers in Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Missouri, and Nebraska for inspiring students to learn and love math and science outside the classroom

Science Everywhere Innovation Challenge funded by Overdeck Family Foundation and the Simons Foundation in partnership with

NEW YORK, Oct. 10, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Five teachers across the country won $5,000 each through Science Everywhere, a nationwide challenge by Overdeck Family Foundation and the Simons Foundation's Science Sandbox initiative in partnership with to bring math and science beyond school walls. Teachers in all 50 states created and implemented exceptional outside-class math and science projects that others can replicate to inspire students and parents to think about these subjects in new ways. Science Everywhere provided half a million dollars in funds to match public donations via, bringing nearly 1,000 projects to life and impacting more than 100,000 students.

The judging panel consisted of classroom teachers and national leaders in math and science including astronaut Leland Melvin, NFL Pro Bowl Receiver Victor Cruz, TV personality Science Bob, neuroscientist Leslie Vosshall, Overdeck Family Foundation chair Laura Overdeck, and Simons Foundation president Marilyn Simons. Together, they selected teachers whose projects strengthened their students’ problem-solving skills, supported outside-class engagement with math and science, and were easily replicable across a wide range of school environments. In addition to the five winning teachers, five runners-up each received $1,000 prizes.

“All students are math and science students if given the opportunity to explore for themselves; that’s the idea behind Science Everywhere,” said Laura Overdeck. “We hope the outstanding examples provided by our winning teachers will inspire other educators and parents to show students that math and science are subjects you use every day, not just facts and formulas to be memorized for an exam.”

The five winning teachers, who were awarded $5,000 each, are:

  • Milton Fernandez, Seminole Elementary School (Miami, FL): Creating Air Quality Maps of My Community
    • Students used a special meter to map areas in their communities with high concentrations of carbon dioxide and offered suggestions on how to improve air quality.
  • Onize Isa, Orangeburg-Wilkinson High School (Orangeburg, SC): Chemistry In Our World
    • Students shadowed and interviewed adults working in chemistry-related professions, connecting concepts learned in science classes to the real world.
  • Vanessa Lail, Grandview Middle School (Hickory, NC): Learning Grows at Home: Amazing Bending Plants!
    • Helped by their parents, students grew Wisconsin Fast Plants at home and investigated how they responded to external stimuli by building a maze and varying their access to light.
  • Nancy Kowalczyk, Cool Valley Elementary School (St. Louis, MO): The Science Behind the Music
    • In an after-school music club, students used a synthesizer and oscilloscope to explore how sounds are produced and why instruments sound different.
  • Michelle Scheet, Saddlebrook Elementary School (Omaha, NE): Super Scientist
    • Students took turns conducting experiments at home with their families using a bag of science books and materials and reported their findings to their classmates.

“Science Everywhere demonstrates the countless ways in which students and parents can do math and science outside of the classroom,” said Marilyn Simons. “These thoughtful projects show how easy it is to use science and math to inspire curiosity in students.”

Inspired by the sheer number of outstanding projects, the judges also selected five runners-up whose projects achieved the goals of Science Everywhere and could be replicated by teachers around the country. The five runners-up, who were awarded $1,000 each, are:

The prizes can be used to fund any project on the platform, offering winning teachers the option to replicate their projects for more students at their schools, lend support to their colleagues’ projects, or make new ideas a reality.

Projects funded through Science Everywhere participated in a research study conducted by University of Virginia professor Robert Tai, who is analyzing the results to better understand the impact this type of outside-class learning experience has on student engagement and success. Overdeck Family Foundation and the Simons Foundation hope to use the findings to continue to help educators and parents inspire passion for math and science in students of all ages.

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.

Founded in 2000 by a Bronx history teacher, has raised $500 million for America's classrooms. Teachers come to 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 the leading platform for supporting U.S. public schools.

Jordan Miller