The Motorola Foundation today announced the recipients of its 2009 Innovation Generation grants, $5 million in funding to promote science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education for America's youth. Now in its fourth year, the grants create opportunities for students to experience STEM both inside and outside the classroom, equipping them with the skills essential to their lives today and to their success in the future.
"Science and technology come to life every day at Motorola. With Innovation Generation, we extend that experience to students across the country, so they will be inspired and prepared to embrace - or even create - the inventions of the future," said Eileen Sweeney, director of the Motorola Foundation. "We support programs that make science, math and engineering compelling - whether that is with real-world role models, exciting out-of-school programming or experiences that are completely out of the box."
Diversity Breeds Inventiveness
Different points of view are essential to innovation. Through Innovation Generation, the Motorola Foundation aims to reach untapped minds and increase opportunities among diverse populations to support the continuum of invention that will power the future. Among this year's grantees:
* The National Society of Black Engineers' Summer Engineering Experience for Kids (SEEK) in Alexandria, Va., engages hundreds of students across the country in grades 3-8 in team-based, interactive engineering projects. SEEK camps enable students to participate in hands-on projects designed to increase their aptitude in math and science and spark their interest in pursuing careers in STEM fields.
* Latinitas' Smart Chicas in Austin, Texas, hosts a series of bilingual workshops at 25 area schools that encourage Hispanic girls in grades 6-8 to consider careers in STEM fields. The workshops introduce them to college student mentors and professional role models, connecting the value of math and science to the real world and promoting classroom achievement.
Innovation Promotes Environmental Progress, and Vice Versa
From geo-systems to the "how-to's" of recycling, environmentalism is top-of-mind for today's youth who want to make a difference in the world. The Motorola Foundation selected educational programs that engage children in new solutions to environment sustainability. Examples:
* Sustainable South Bronx in New York introduces underserved minority middle and high youth to STEM skill sets that are used throughout the sustainable technologies industry. Participants study land use, energy, transportation, water and waste policy and education, advancing the environmental and economic rebirth of the South Bronx and inspiring solutions in similar areas around the world.
* The Long Island Science Center's Boundless Environments in Riverhead, N.Y., recruits and trains teachers in a curriculum about environmental citizenship and green entrepreneurial ventures. This course of study highlights students' roles in environmental change and encourages them to explore careers in the field.
Summertime is Prime Time for Discovery
A hallmark of Innovation Generation is exploration of science outside of school, because students understand concepts best when applied in their world. Many of the grantees harness students' curiosity while school is out for the summer. Examples:
* The John G. Shedd Aquarium Society's Underwater Robotics teacher training and out-of-school club provides students and teachers with the opportunity to build a functional robot designed to investigate aquatic environments. Participants apply STEM process skills such as critical thinking and problem-solving.
* WGBH Educational Foundation in Boston engages female and minority student viewers in engineering through an educational TV show series and video blog, which features Nate Ball, the host of the PBS reality competition series DESIGN SQUAD, in the inventor's seat.
"This year, we're proud to add 43 brand-new programs to the Innovation Generation network, including some that might not have been possible without our support," Sweeney adds. "We value the fresh approaches these programs are using to inspire today's students to become tomorrow's innovators."
The Innovation Generation grants are an integral part of the Motorola Foundation's Innovation Generation program, which emphasizes much more than financial support. It encourages Motorola employee engagement with students and grantees, supports research that furthers understanding of effective practices in STEM education and builds sustaining networks among grantees.
In July, the Motorola Foundation will convene leaders in STEM education and Innovation Generation grantees for its first-ever Innovation Generation Conference. Attendees will explore best practices in collaborative learning sessions that address teaching innovation and entrepreneurship as well as pre-engineer, out-of-school, girl-centric and sustainability programming. By sharing best practices and convening a community dedicated to engaging students in STEM education, the Motorola Foundation is helping to build capacity for these organizations.
"The Motorola Foundation provides us connection to people and tools necessary to expand opportunities for our students and our program," said Miquela Craytor, Executive Director of Sustainable South Bronx. "Their Innovation Generation network shares our passion for engaging students through systems-thinking, science and technology, and we all learn from each other to further our work and success in equipping today's young people with the skill sets they need to become the doers and thinkers for the 21st century."
For a full list of grant recipients or to learn more about the Motorola Foundation's Innovation Generation, please visit .