Supported Projects

We support projects in many different areas across disparate platforms — including informal education experiences, live science events, film and other media productions, and awareness campaigns. Below is a list of current and past projects funded by Science Sandbox.

"The Most Unknown", from Motherboard and Science Sandbox

DECEMBER 2016
A documentary film and digital series exploring humanity’s biggest questions.

“The Most Unknown” is a new documentary film and digital series that sends nine scientists across the world to explore some of humanity’s biggest questions. How did life begin? What is time? What is consciousness? How much do we really know? Together, they explore the most unknown areas of each other’s work. Along the way, they return to something fundamental about the nature of discovery: Why are seemingly unanswerable questions worth asking?

The film is a coproduction between Science Sandbox and Motherboard.

Motherboard is a multiplatform, multimedia publication that relies on long-form reporting, in-depth blogging, and video and film production to ensure that every story is presented in its most gripping and relatable format. Whether on the ground or on the web, Motherboard travels the world to uncover the tech and science stories that define what’s coming next for our quickly evolving planet. By offering an honest picture of the future we face, Motherboard aims to enable its readers to make better-informed decisions today.

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Adventure Scientists

JANUARY 2017
Organization that pairs large science experiments with world explorers to gather data that would otherwise be nearly impossible to collect.

Adventure Scientists is a nonprofit organization based in Bozeman, Montana, that equips conservationists with data collected from the outdoors that are crucial to unlocking solutions to the world’s environmental challenges. By leveraging the skills of the outdoor adventure community, Adventure Scientists is uniquely able to gather data at any scale, in any environment.

Data collection can be expensive, time-consuming and physically demanding, which limits the role that science currently plays in the conservation process. Adventure Scientists tackles this problem by recruiting, training and managing individuals with strong outdoor skills — such as mountaineering, diving or whitewater kayaking — to bring back data from the far corners of the globe.

Adventure Scientists has sent thousands of volunteers on missions to collect data for its conservation partners. These excursions have led to the discovery of more than three dozen new species, provided information to guide decision making on climate change, and helped protect threatened wildlife habitats around the world.

Through their involvement with these projects, volunteers become ambassadors for the species they work with and the places they visit. By telling their stories and placing them in the rich tradition of outdoor adventure narrative, Adventure Scientists greatly magnifies its partners’ marketing efforts.

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American Society for Cell Biology

JANUARY 2018
Public engagement grants for scientists seeking to bring their work to a bigger audience.

The Public Engagement Grants program provides funding, mentoring and project assessment to American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB) members interested in engaging with their community and gaining experience in public outreach. At the core of the program are grants of up to $35,000 pay for materials and supplies, marketing, and salary for public engagement projects. The goal is to help scientists reach public audiences to build trust in scientists, and to enable scientists to undertake a significant pilot/case study so that they can qualify for funding from other sources to sustain and even expand their project. The program also supports scientists who may want to transition to a career in public engagement or increase the professionalism of their approach to engaging the public. ASCB provides mentoring and networking opportunities to scientists who want to expand their public engagement work.

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Billion Oyster Project

DECEMBER 2015
Project to restore the New York Harbor oyster population by teaching students to help lead the effort and recruiting volunteers of all ages.

Billion Oyster Project (BOP) aims to restore 1 billion oysters to New York Harbor over the next 20 years while educating the young people of New York City about their local marine environment.

Oysters are icons of New York’s cultural history and the keystone species of the New York-New Jersey Harbor Estuary. Oyster reefs were the backbone of what was formerly one of the most biodiverse estuaries on the planet. The reefs provide habitat for thousands of species of fish and invertebrates by removing excess nitrogen from the water. Without its oysters, New York Harbor has lost much of its biodiversity.

The students of New York Harbor School, BOP’s flagship institution, have restored more than 16 million oysters. In the process, they have learned scuba diving, raised oyster larvae, operated and maintained vessels, built and run commercial-scale oyster nurseries, designed underwater monitoring equipment, and conducted long-term research projects.

To support the work of growing and restoring oysters, BOP builds reefs, collects and repurposes shells from restaurants, and provides middle school teachers with materials for teaching math and science through the lens of oyster restoration.

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BioBus and BioBase

DECEMBER 2014
Mobile lab that brings hands-on science to underserved students in New York City, with a research lab base on the Lower East Side and in Harlem.

The Simons Foundation supports BioBus’s expansion of its community lab programs, which bring hands-on science to students in Harlem, one of Manhattan’s lowest-income school districts, where test scores lag behind citywide levels. The BioBus mobile lab and the BioBase brick-and-mortar lab offer research-grade laboratory experiences led by scientists, giving students from demographics that are underrepresented in STEM careers the opportunity to excel.

The BioBus parks at a school in the New York City area almost every day of the school year and provides an introductory lab course to K-12 students, typically with six classes and up to 180 students per day. BioBus students gain a more positive attitude toward science and are more likely to see themselves in a STEM career.

At the BioBase, students take in-depth classes and participate in after-school programs and summer camps, studying biological, environmental and materials sciences. By designing their own experiments, they gain a better understanding of the complex web of life. As students progress, some become interns and help to develop curriculum for future students.

BioBus hosts ‘science happy hours,’ in which scientists give talks aimed at a general audience, and attends public events to facilitate connections between scientists and the community.

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Bridge to Enter Advanced Mathematics

JANUARY 2017
Program for students in grades six to 12 that creates pathways for underserved students to study advanced mathematics.

The Simons Foundation supports Bridge to Enter Advanced Mathematics (BEAM), an organization that enables low-income sixth- to 12th-graders to study advanced mathematics. Students attend intensive summer programs and have access to an advising program that helps them gain admission to top high schools, pass algebra in eighth grade and enroll in other enrichment programs. After 11th grade, they enter a summer ‘college prep’ program to prepare their college applications and study for the SAT. Through its work, BEAM gives students a realistic chance at the career of their dreams.

BEAM is unique in focusing on giving low-income students access to advanced material. STEM career professionals report having done extra coursework, summer programs and math contests growing up, but access to these extracurricular resources is deeply unequal. Only 3 percent of low-income eighth-graders score at the advanced level on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, compared to 14 percent of affluent peers. BEAM has demonstrated that this inequality can be addressed by supporting low-income students who are ready for advanced work.

Funding from the Simons Foundation supports BEAM’s five-year growth phase, in which it will launch math enrichment for grades three to five in low-income neighborhoods in New York City as well as a number of pilot initiatives designed to reach more students.

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California Academy of Sciences

JUNE 2017
The renowned Bay Area science museum brings citizen-science programming to after-school clubs across the country.

The California Academy of Sciences is a scientific and educational institution dedicated to exploring, explaining and sustaining life on Earth. Based in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, it is home to a world-class aquarium, planetarium and natural history museum — all under one living roof.

Designed by the academy, the Science Action Club (SAC) is a nationwide out-of-school program for middle school youth that transforms STEM learning. Through games, projects and hands-on activities, SAC participants investigate nature, document their discoveries connect with scientists, and design strategies to protect our planet — all through the lens of citizen science. SAC features three environmental science units focused on bugs, birds and clouds. Each unit includes 12 hands-on activities and citizen-science investigations designed for 60-90-minute club sessions led by educators, as well as a teaching kit and resources for extended learning. SAC sessions are designed to spark wonder and curiosity about the natural world and provide opportunities for youth to participate in STEM learning that is interesting and meaningful to their lives. SAC’s citizen-science projects have global reach and established longevity, and they take youth outdoors to explore their local environment. For example, the Cloud Quest unit connects students to Globe Observer, a project by NASA in which youth observe the sky to help scientists understand the connection between clouds and climate change; Bird Scouts connects to eBird from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology; and Bug Safari leverages academy research on arthropods, using iNaturalist. SAC educator are trained and supported through SAC’s blended learning professional development program. Training provides detailed guidance and support for all SAC activities, as well as background information on scientific content, how to do citizen science, and best practices for teaching STEM in an informal learning environment.

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Carter Institute of Journalism at New York University

DECEMBER 2015
University programs that train scientists and journalists to communicate science in creative ways that engage the general public.

Long a global leader in training science communicators, New York University has used its support from the Simons Foundation to expand several programs. NYU has updated its four-week science communication workshops for doctoral students, postdocs and medical students seeking to sharpen their mass communication skills and has developed workshops for senior faculty as well. NYU has also launched the Cooper Square Review, a web publication featuring science book reviews and essays.

The first of its kind, the Review is intended to encourage lay audiences worldwide to read great books that show how science works. Funding from the Simons Foundation also supports NYU’s globally renowned Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program (SHERP), a master’s program now in its 35th year, whose alumni work for major media in 25 countries. More than 1,000 science communicators have completed SHERP and the science communication workshops, and Simons funds are enabling the two cohorts to collaborate in ways that reflect and anticipate shifts in communications technology. In addition, the Simons Visiting Science Journalist program brings top science journalists to campus to collaborate with both groups.

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Caveat

JULY 2017
An event space in New York City featuring cutting-edge, topical science programming.

Caveat is an event space on the Lower East Side of New York City with the mission of fostering an environment for ‘intelligent night life.’ Science Sandbox supports some of Caveat’s science programming, including “What Is Life,” a live event hosted by New York Times columnist Carl Zimmer.

“What Is Life” tackles this fundamental question by engaging with experts across the spectrum of scientific expertise — from molecular biology to astronomy to philosophy. Over eight nights, Zimmer and his guests explore what the latest scientific research tells us about life.

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City University of New York: STEM Research Academy

JANUARY 2018
A program for under resourced high school students in New York City to explore how to conduct research.

The STEM Research Academy is a keystone program in the Office of STEM Initiatives of the City University of New York (CUNY). The office is a division of the Office of K-16 Initiatives and is administered in collaboration with CUNY’s College Now program. Focusing on access and equity, the STEM Research Academy enrolls high-performing, underserved New York City high school students. Participating students learn the significance of inquiry, self-advocacy, the societal impact of their mentor’s research and how to conduct research independently.

As a two-semester program, the STEM Research Academy consists of a spring pre-college science course and a summer research experience, designed to provide students with an opportunity to build essential literacy and numeracy skills by engaging in ‘authentic inquiry’ activities. The spring pre-college course strengthens basic skills such as formulating researchable questions, designing testable experiments, performing literature searches in library databases, and reading scientific literature including peer-reviewed journal articles. Students attend the course on a college campus after school or on Saturdays. Upon successful completion of the spring course, students may enroll in a structured six-week internship program with CUNY research faculty.

The program recruits from high schools that lack a strong science research program and serve large, low-income, underrepresented and minority populations. Juniors are selected to participate based primarily on Regents exam scores, their GPA, submission of a general-interest essay, and review of their high school transcript.

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Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory: Urban Barcode Project

DECEMBER 2017
A science education initiative to engage high school students in studies of biodiversity in New York City.

The Urban Barcode Project (UBP) is a science education initiative that engages New York City high school students in the study of biodiversity using DNA. ‘DNA barcodes’ are short DNA sequences that can be used to objectively identify almost any plant, animal or fungal species. DNA barcoding can be mastered quickly and applied to many different questions, allowing students to reach a satisfying research endpoint within an academic year. Students can undertake individual projects to explore product mislabeling or contribute to distributed efforts to explore a local ecosystem, museum collection or conservation issue. These projects stimulate independent thinking across different levels of biological organization, linking molecular genetics to ecology and evolution.

UBP is one of several efforts by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory’s DNA Learning Center to promote original research by high school students. To participate, students are required to complete two courses: Conservation Genetics and DNA Barcoding and Bioinformatics. Students who complete both courses are invited to apply at the beginning of the school year, and 40 students are selected to participate in teams of two students matched with scientist mentors. Mentors guide the students through all phases of the research process, from project design and culminating in poster and oral presentations at a research symposium. Students gain knowledge, confidence and interest in science while studying the interaction of biodiversity and human well-being.

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DonorsChoose.org

APRIL 2016
Crowdsourcing platform providing opportunities for people to fund classroom projects across the U.S.

Founded in 2000, DonorsChoose.org makes it easy for anyone to help a classroom in need. Teachers at over 60 percent of U.S. public schools have created project requests, and more than 2 million people have donated a combined $428 million to projects that inspire them. Over 18 million students — most of them from low-income communities, and many of them in disaster-stricken areas — have received books, art supplies, field trip funding, technology and other resources that they need to learn.

In 2016, the Simons Foundation and Math for America supported Best School Day, a massive crowdsourcing campaign to raise funds for classroom projects across the country.

Later in 2016, the Simons Foundation supported Science Everywhere, in collaboration with the Overdeck Family Foundation. Through this program, public school teachers across the U.S. are invited to submit ideas for engaging hands-on math and science projects to be pursued outside of class time. Qualifying projects receive matching donations from the Overdeck Family Foundation and the Simons Foundation, and the five most innovative ideas, as determined by a panel of judges, each receive a $5,000 prize.

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Guerilla Science

DECEMBER 2015
Organization with a mission to reach new audiences by bringing exciting and accessible science installations to unexpected places.

Guerilla Science brings science into unusual settings such as pop-up storefronts, raucous parties and public spaces. These encounters promote thought-provoking conversations between diverse communities of people and engage a wide cross-section of scientifically underserved adults through science-inspired experiences that are relevant to their lives. This is accomplished through a program of daring activities at music festivals, a series of experimental live events designed to attract widespread attention, and a digital platform that translates live experiences into an online space that draws a wider audience.

As part of its work, Guerilla Science trains scientists in an avant-garde method of science outreach, offering them valuable experience in engaging with nonscientists in unconventional ways. Guerilla Science plans to contribute to academic research on effective informal science learning, and to act as a role model for best practices within the outreach community and in the wider scientific world.

Guerilla Science’s goal is to become a self-sustaining organization with reduced reliance on grant support. The organization is working to develop commercial revenue streams and to expand its reach internationally, beyond its current base in the U.S. and the United Kingdom.

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Imagine Science

JANUARY 2018
A collaborative program that implements informal, out-of-school STEM learning for youth in high-need communities across the country.

Solving the STEM crisis is too complex a challenge for any one organization—school, cultural institution, or community-based center— to tackle alone. In response to this need, four of the nation’s largest and most experienced youth development organizations came together in 2015 to launch Imagine Science, an initiative that harnesses and unites the distinct expertise and resources of each organization: YMCA of the USA, Boys and Girls Clubs of America, Girls Inc., and the National 4-H Council.

Imagine Science combines the national resources of these four collaborative partners and jointly implements high-quality informal STEM learning during out-of-school time with underrepresented youth in high-need communities around the nation. The initiative follows a common standard of ‘essential program elements’ rooted in evidence-based STEM and out-of-school youth development practices.

Imagine Science (I/S) is the first-ever jointly operated national effort to design and implement high-quality, out-of-school STEM programming for underserved youth. Together, the four partners reach 18 million young people annually in every U.S. state and territory. Their combined assets include more than 110,000 program sites, over 75,000 full-time employees, and 1 million volunteers dedicated to reaching youth.

Following three successful pilot-site launches, Imagine Science is now focused on expanding its national scaling efforts. With philanthropic support from the Simons Foundation, Imagine Science aims to build capacity through additional sites and create a STEM resource repository for broader distribution of quality STEM curricula and activities.

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Iridescent

DECEMBER 2015
Working to improve STEM education by strengthening parental involvement and effectively communicating the importance of STEM to parents in underserved communities.

Iridescent is a STEM education nonprofit that has helped 3,000 engineers and scientists teach open-ended engineering design challenges to 33,500 underserved students and their parents over the past decade.

Iridescent is conducting a three-year study to determine the impact of parental involvement in STEM activities on student achievement. The program is being implemented by Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy and Lyons School District 103 in Illinois, and the research is being carried out by Martin Storksdieck, director of the Center for Research on Lifelong Learning at Oregon State University. Iridescent is supporting 350 children and parents, 10 educators and 50 mentors at two low-performing schools, providing up to 30,000 project-based learning hours. In addition, Iridescent is developing eight STEM training videos for parents, which will be widely distributed.

The project is the first research study on the impact of long-term parental involvement in STEM projects on students’ academic performance.

Through this project, Iridescent will determine how to communicate the importance of STEM education to parents in underserved communities using media partners such as Univision and the Televisa Foundation. The project will also enable Iridescent to develop and disseminate problem-solving strategies that can be easily implemented by informal education practitioners across the country.

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Junior Achievement STEM Summit

DECEMBER 2014
Daylong science conference for high school students offering hands-on activities to spark their interest in STEM subjects.

STEM programs typically target students who already have an interest in science, technology, engineering or math. Junior Achievement’s STEM Initiative aims to reach all students at grade level and to inspire students who were not already interested in these areas.

The STEM Summit is a free daylong conference for ninth graders, held at local high schools, that showcases STEM-based career opportunities and gives students the opportunity to perform hands-on science and engineering experiments. Junior Achievement brings the program, materials and volunteers to each school with the goal of inspiring students to choose STEM-related courses throughout high school.

The conference is fast-paced, interactive, engaging and fun. Participants are divided into nine groups that rotate through three types of activities: career panels, experiments and competitions. Each module runs 30 minutes, and experiments and competitions showcase how science, technology and engineering connect to the professional world. The day closes with a wrap-up session ending with a ‘wow moment’ chemistry experiment.

The program was developed by Junior Achievement of South Central Pennsylvania, and the Simons Foundation provided support to extend the program nationally.

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Los Angeles Performance Practice: “After”

DECEMBER 2017
A live performance exploring human perception and consciousness.

“After” is a live performance about experiences no human being has ever come back to report on — a show about possible afterlives and consciousness transfer. Using hyper-precise design and new breakthroughs in sound spatialization, it explores deep levels of human perception in an attempt to induce collective hallucination.

Creator Andrew Schneider is working closely with the Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC) to replicate the design and construction of a new sound technology system, Wave Field Synthesis (WFS). “After” will be the first theatrical production to use EMPAC’s design of WFS.

Andrew Schneider is an Obie award-winning, Drama Desk-nominated performer, writer and interactive-electronics artist based in Brooklyn, New York, who has created original works for theater, video and installation since 2003. For more on Schneider’s work, visit andrewjs.com.

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MICRO

APRIL 2017
A series of six-foot-tall science museums that offer the joy of discovery in unexpected places — from hospital waiting rooms to the DMV.

Micro introduces people to fundamental scientific principles in the places where they least expect it.

Founded in 2016 by computational ecologist Amanda Schochet and producer Charles Philipp, Micro brings together designers, scientists, storytellers and artists to squeeze the best parts of museums into boxes that can go anywhere.

Traditional brick-and-mortar museums make visitors come to them. Micro is a distributed museum. Its fleet of six-foot-tall science museums finds people where they already are, from hospital waiting rooms to the DMV, and connects communities by fostering a common conversation around science.

Micro’s fleet introduces viewers to the core sciences, with a museum on a new topic released every six months. Its first museum, the Smallest Mollusk Museum, debuted in 2016 and is about to be released around New York City. It uses 15 exhibits, five screens, eight sculptures, three optical illusions, a giant hologram and a liter of slime to tell a story about natural selection and environmental systems spanning millions of years.

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MIT Museum: Science in Vivo

AUGUST 2017
Science in Vivo “meets people where they are” by bringing science to unexpected venues.

The Science in Vivo project fosters the integration of science into settings where people are not expecting it. The overall goals of the project are to inspire experimentation with — and advance the understanding of — such work. Over the course of three years the project will support teams at 24 sites that bring science experiences to “where the people are.” Nine of these sites will host an observational visit from other science engagement professionals, enabling them to better understand the dynamics at work in these settings. The project incorporates several mechanisms for sharing findings, including the annual Science Events Summit.

The MIT Museum engages the wider community with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s science, technology and other areas of scholarship in ways that will best serve the nation and the world in the 21st century.

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National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine: Citizen Science Study

SEPTEMBER 2016
A study by the National Academies’ Board on Science Education to investigate how citizen science can support learning.

The Board on Science Education (BOSE) of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine focuses on science learning and education for all, investigating the effectiveness of schools, federal education programs and self-directed learning. Its reports influence federal legislation, provide guidance to federal agencies involved in STEM education, and shape funding priorities.

The Simons Foundation is supporting a new BOSE study investigating how citizen science projects can support science learning. While such projects are becoming immensely popular, research that focuses on the science learning aspect of these projects is just now emerging. This study will identify evidence-based principles to guide the design of citizen science projects that have science learning as a goal.

An expert committee will examine research related to science learning and citizen science, plan a two-day public workshop, and develop a consensus report. The report will discuss the potential of citizen science to support science learning, identify programs that exemplify the most promising practices, and lay out a research agenda to improve our understanding of how citizen science supports science learning. Committee members will include experts in citizen science programming, research and evaluation of citizen science projects, K-12 science education, informal science education, and after-school science programming.

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New York Hall of Science

DECEMBER 2015
Initiative to develop a creative interdisciplinary approach to STEM learning that can be implemented in immigrant communities.

The New York Hall of Science (NYSCI) received a five-year grant from the Simons Foundation to launch Queens 20/20, a multifaceted initiative to provide creative STEM educational opportunities for young people and families in Corona, Queens, a neighborhood that is home to many Latino immigrant families. This population represents the largest and fastest-growing ethnic minority group in the country, but it is vastly underrepresented in science and technology disciplines. Support from the foundation will fund the Science Ambassadors program, which forms the centerpiece of Queens 20/20.

The program will enable NYSCI to make educational resources, exhibits and programs available to students and families in the school district throughout the academic year. Over the next five years, working in partnership with a network of schools in the community, NYSCI will offer programs — based on its signature Design-Make-Play approach to STEM learning — that support out-of-school STEM opportunities and parental engagement. NYSCI will also provide career resources and conduct evaluation and research. The museum’s goal is to serve as a neighborhood hub, offering a much-needed resource for children and their families, teachers, and other members of the community. NYSCI hopes that Queens 20/20 will serve as a model for other organizations and communities serving immigrant families across the country.

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Nova: “The Mathematics of Prediction”

DNOVEMBER 2016
A PBS-Nova documentary exploring how we use math to model complex systems and make better predictions as a result.

Following in the footsteps of its popular program “The Great Math Mystery,” Nova will take viewers on a new mathematical odyssey in “The Mathematics of Prediction,” using graphics to bring numbers to life and exploring real-world examples that illustrate both the power and the challenges of mathematical analysis. Complexity and uncertainty are evident everywhere in the world around us, in natural systems like the weather and in human constructs like the economy. But scientists and mathematicians are constantly working to find meaningful patterns and build better predictive models using old methods like Bayesian probability and new ones like machine-learning algorithms.

Numbers are powerful, but they can also be confusing, and in this era of digital technology and ‘big data,’ it’s easy to feel as though we’re drowning in them. “The Mathematics of Prediction” aims to show Nova viewers “How Not to Be Wrong” (as mathematician Jordan Ellenberg put it in the title of his most recent book) by deploying the right math when we make predictions that materially affect our lives.

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Numberphile

DECEMBER 2016
Hugely popular YouTube series featuring ‘numbers people’ discussing unorthodox, cutting-edge or recreational topics in mathematics.

Numberphile is a series of films on YouTube dedicated to mathematics and to people with a passion for numbers.

Video journalist Brady Haran collaborates with mathematicians and other experts from around the world, creating videos that range in length from two to 20 minutes. Topics range from the profound to the quirky, and from cutting-edge research to recreational puzzles.

Recent films have included interviews with world-class mathematicians and other math professionals. But the series also features memorable set pieces, including one film in which the first 1 million digits of pi were printed on a mile-long piece of paper, which was then unfurled on an airport runway.

Numberphile is aimed at viewers of all ages and levels of expertise. It has become one of the most popular ‘edutainment’ channels on YouTube, with more than 2 million subscribers and over 250 million views.

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Only Human

DECEMBER 2014
Podcast on health and medicine that helps listeners achieve better health and an understanding of health-care issues.

In October 2015, WNYC launched a podcast on health, Only Human, hosted by Mary Harris. Fusing personal stories, participatory projects and medical journalism, Only Human focuses on medical research and science, health-care economics, and healthy living. Only Human engages its listeners in the pursuit of better health for themselves, their families and their communities. The program partnered with Dan Ariely on a project known as Stick to It, which aimed to help people keep their exercise resolutions, and has featured the women’s health advocate Willie Parker on the show. Other segments have included an interview with Ezekiel Emanuel about the cost of health care, an analysis of the outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in the Bronx, and an exploration of the science of hearing and the habit of listening. Only Human asks experts and listeners alike big questions about how health affects our lives, teaching them about science and medicine along the way.

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Radiolab

JULY 2017
Award-winning science radio program that employs high-quality storytelling and sound to engage audiences.

Radiolab is a two-time Peabody Award-winning national public radio program that celebrates curiosity and nurtures engagement with science in millions of listeners nationwide and around the world. Co-hosted by executive producer and MacArthur ‘genius’ Jad Abumrad and veteran science journalist Robert Krulwich, Radiolab approaches broad and diverse topics across science from the ground up.

Radiolab’s non-didactic treatment of science — in which the hosts exhibit curiosity and wonder and ask questions — makes challenging science concepts accessible and encourages a feeling of emotional investment and a sense of discovery within its listeners. By positioning science as a living process — one that requires a range of approaches, an ability to grapple with unknowns, and a willingness to experiment — Radiolab’s hosts draw listeners into stimulating, powerful conversations about science, scientific inquiry, and the scientific process. The program makes scientists out of laypeople as they venture into Radiolab-guided explorations that emphasize a feeling of personal connection through a highly crafted use of sound and story.

To foster public engagement with science and scientific inquiry, Radiolab produces and distributes a selection of science programming to national and international audiences via multiple platforms including original digital podcasts, a weekly hourlong radio broadcast, science communication lectures and live events, and the cultivation and promotion of new Radiolab talent. After over a decade of production, Radiolab is broadcast on 596 public radio stations across the country and averages 3.4 million monthly podcast listeners.

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Rockaway Waterfront Alliance

SEPTEMBER 2017
A paid internship for students who conduct research under the mentorship of environmental scientists.

Rockaway Waterfront Alliance’s Environmentor is a science research mentoring program for high school sophomores and juniors. Environmentors participate in an intensive paid environmental science internship in the spring and summer, conducting original research under the mentorship of field scientists from the City University of New York, Hofstra University, the Science and Resilience Institute at Jamaica Bay, and other institutions. Students research complex issues that affect the Rockaways’ urban waters, particularly Jamaica Bay, and present their research in the community and at the American Museum of Natural History. Past interns have conducted research on salt marsh restoration, eel identification using environmental DNA, and microplastics in oysters.

Through their participation in the program, students develop science research skills while enjoying the unique experience of conducting field research in their own communities. Students learn about local ecology and environmental justice issues and become familiar with data collection, scientific equipment, crafting research projects, formulating questions based on raw data and observations, and reading, writing and presenting on scientific topics. Students also participate in leadership training and summer activities including surfing, kayaking and swimming.

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Rockefeller University: RockEDU Conference

DECEMBER 2017
This ‘unconference’ will bring together leaders in science communication to discuss the expanding field of science outreach.

In October 2018, representatives of science outreach communities from across the nation will gather at Rockefeller University for an ‘unconference’ to discuss and workshop multiple aspects related to the expanding field of science outreach. This event will be hosted by RockEDU Science Outreach, in collaboration with the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

Engaging public audiences in STEM promotes scientific literacy and establishes scientific research as a relevant human endeavor. Many STEM professionals and institutions support and participate in science outreach as a means to achieve these goals, and to more genuinely connect science with all members of our society. Traditional models of science outreach centered on activities that scientists performed on the side, if time allowed. However, in more recent times, science outreach is often an essential component of research programs, requiring significant effort that have clearly measurable impact.

We are at an inflection point as the value -- and necessity -- of science outreach becomes fully realized both in terms of societal impact and as a means to gain broad support for scientific research, through funding, policy or other relevant avenues. As the field of science outreach grows, it is important that the infrastructure to support its professional community grow with it. This ‘unconference’ aims to provide attendees with the opportunity to engage with others who are involved in science outreach efforts, and to help streamline science outreach as a process.

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Science Sandbox @ New Lab

MARCH 2017
A fellowship at Brooklyn’s New Lab designed to develop new projects that connect science, technology and research to society.

Science Sandbox @ New Lab is a hybrid residency/incubator fellowship program housed at New Lab, a sprawling, multidisciplinary center for advanced technology located in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. The program enables scientists, researchers, technologists, journalists, artists and other creative innovators to work on unexpected and transformative projects that further the Science Sandbox mission to unlock scientific thinking in all people.

The fellowship provides space, resources and a community for nurturing, building and remixing inspired projects that build connections between emerging research and society.

Fellows spend three months working on projects in New Lab’s state-of-the-art space and product realization labs. As members of the invited ‘beta class,’ the inaugural Science Sandbox @ New Lab fellows will actively help shape the new program.

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Sciences at Pioneer Works

JULY 2016
A massive cultural center dedicated to experimentation, education and production across disciplines, housed in a converted warehouse in the Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn.

Pioneer Works is a center for art, experiment, research, education and science. Located in a 25,000-square-foot manufacturing warehouse in Red Hook, Brooklyn, the facility houses artist studios, exhibition and performance spaces, a science lab, a recording studio, and more. The floor plan is open and flexible, encouraging a collaborative environment in which international artists, musicians, scientists and educators can create together.

Pioneer Works encourages its artists and scientists to focus on their own disciplines and not feel pressured to cross over into others, although collaborations often erupt spontaneously. What the organization offers to all of its inhabitants is the opportunity to live in a bigger world and play the most important part they can play on that larger stage.

With support from the Simons Foundation, Pioneer Works is rebuilding its science studios. It is also continuing its popular live science events, which are free and open to the public, and producing podcasts to disseminate its programs to a wider audience. In the later phases of its expansion, Pioneer Works will offer specially tailored scientific residencies and workshops and an incubator space. Pioneer Works hopes to become a model for the natural integration of science into a cultural organization.

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Steeplechase Films: “Oliver Sacks: The Life of the Mind”

OCTOBER 2016
From award-winning filmmaker Ric Burns, a biography of the beloved physician and writer, Oliver Sacks.

Steeplechase Films is an award-winning production company founded by Ric Burns in 1989. Over the past two decades, it has brought quality programming to public television and redefined the way audiences engage with American history. In “Oliver Sacks: His Own Life,” Steeplechase tells the story of the extraordinary physician and writer.

On January 15, 2015, Oliver Sacks learned that he had only a few months to live. One month later, he sat down for a series of filmed interviews in his apartment in New York. Surrounded by family and friends, along with notebooks from six decades of thinking and writing about the brain, he talked about his life and work, his abiding sense of wonder at the natural world, and the place of human beings within it.

“Oliver Sacks: His Own Life” draws on these twilight reflections, as well as nearly two dozen deeply revealing interviews with friends, family members, colleagues and patients — including Jonathan Miller, Temple Grandin, Lawrence Weschler and Bill Hayes. The film is in part a biography, revealing a deeply empathetic and elusive expatriate Englishman. It is also an exploration of the science of human consciousness and a meditation on the deep and intimate relationships between art, science and storytelling.

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STEM Learning Ecosystems Initiative

JULY 2015
Initiative to develop innovative programs to improve STEM education both in school and outside the classroom.

The STEM Learning Ecosystems initiative cultivates effective STEM learning opportunities for young people. The initiative is led by the STEM Funders Network, a diverse mix of more than 20 education-focused foundations that pool their resources to tackle projects they could not undertake alone.

In 2015, the network selected 27 communities from across the United States for the initial cohort of a national community of practice to implement STEM Ecosystems, collaborative efforts to deliver rigorous STEM instruction from pre-K through college. The ecosystems are developed in schools and beyond the classroom — in after-school programs, at home, in science centers and in libraries. They spark young people’s engagement, develop their knowledge and nurture their sense of belonging in STEM disciplines. As the ecosystems evolve, students will be able to connect what they learn in school with real-world learning opportunities that can lead to STEM-related careers and opportunities. A second cohort was selected in 2016.

The ecosystems are supported by a technical assistance team led by the Teaching Institute for Excellence in STEM. The initiative is housed at STEM Next at the University of San Diego. The Simons Foundation collaborated with other funders in the STEM Funders Network to develop and support the initiative.

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Sundance Institute: Science Sandbox Nonfiction Project

OCTOBER 2017
A documentary film initiative designed to foster and support independent science storytelling.

Led by Sundance Institute’s Documentary Film Program, the Science Sandbox Nonfiction Project is a partnership that offers grants, engagement events and other opportunities for independent artists seeking to explore the intrinsic link between science and culture through innovative storytelling. The partnership identifies and supports nonfiction projects that communicate science to general audiences in meaningful ways. Emphasis is placed on film and media projects that incorporate creative narrative techniques and highlight diversity in science, especially those that feature characters, topics or disciplines that broaden or redefine what it means to be a scientist or to do science.

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The Conversation

DECEMBER 2015
Online news outlet, written by researchers and edited by journalists, that invites other media outlets to republish its content.

The Conversation US is an independent source of informed commentary and analysis, delivered direct to the public from academic researchers. Started in Australia in 2011, this online news outlet has grown to become one of the largest independent news sites in that country.

All articles are authored by scholars writing in their area of expertise. They work with The Conversation’s team of editors to ensure that their scholarship is accessible to the widest possible audience.

With a commitment to the free flow of information, The Conversation publishes under a Creative Commons license and encourages other outlets to republish its content. Articles from The Conversation have been republished by The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, Time, Quartz, Scientific American and many other news sources.

The Simons Foundation supports two science editors who focus on commissioning academics from across the United States to write articles on a variety of topics relevant to the public interest, underpinned by scientific research. Disciplines covered range from mathematics and physics to biology.

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The Exploratorium

NOVEMBER 2017
A massive learning space in San Francisco, offering revolutionary ‘tinkering’ studios and engaging outdoor exhibits.

The Exploratorium is a public learning laboratory that enables visitors to explore the world through science, art and human perception. The Exploratorium’s vision is a world where people think for themselves and can confidently ask questions, question answers and understand the world around them. Here, artists, scientists, educators, and designers work alongside one another to envision new ideas and directions for learning about the natural world. Their common goal: to support a culture of experimentation and collaboration, inspire curiosity and understanding, and stimulate fresh ideas and directions.

The Exploratorium Studio for Public Spaces (SPS) transforms public spaces into culturally productive places to learn about natural phenomena and human behavior. Working at the intersection of architecture, urbanism, art and education, SPS creates beautiful and engaging outdoor exhibits and environments that encourage the public to ask questions, make discoveries and test those discoveries. By designing and building spaces where people can pause, observe, experiment and explore the science of natural and social phenomena in everyday life, SPS is creating a new type of social and educational urban space, a public platform for the integration of STEM education into the fabric of urban life and reaching people who don’t think science or science museums are for them.

The Exploratorium was an early pioneer of ‘tinkering’ (also known as ‘making’) as a uniquely engaging approach to STEM learning. Tinkering at the Exploratorium is a carefully but loosely structured process in which scientific concepts and phenomena are positioned as the tools for learners to realize their creative goals.

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The Story Collider

AUGUST 2016
A live event and podcast series that encourages scientists to engage with the public through powerful, personal science storytelling.

The Story Collider is a science storytelling show dedicated to the idea that true personal stories are a powerful tool for science engagement. Its founders believe that everybody has a story about science, because now, more than ever, science is a part of everyone’s life. Since 2010, the Story Collider has showcased those personal stories in its many live shows and in its weekly podcast. The organization also teaches science storytelling workshops.

At the Story Collider, the audience hears from scientists about all the times things went wrong in their labs, but the show also presents stories from people who haven’t had a formal connection to science since high school. Storytellers have included physicists, comedians, neuroscientists, writers, actors and doctors.

The Story Collider presents its flagship show monthly in New York City and also hosts shows in Boston, Washington, D.C., and other cities across the U.S. and in the U.K. Its podcast is available on SoundCloud, iTunes and the NPR One app and passed 5 million downloads in 2016.

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Jarred Phillips teaches about DNA replication in his classroom at Pemberton High School in Pemberton, N.J.
The Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation

JUNE 2015
Graduate school offering competency-based master’s degree programs, with a focus on educating teachers and school leaders.

The Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, in collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has established a graduate school, the Woodrow Wilson Academy of Teaching and Learning, with the aim of reinventing teacher education. The academy will consist of a school of education and a research and development laboratory, the Buckley Teaching and Learning Lab.

The graduate school will offer programs in teacher education and school leadership. It will initially focus on competency-based master’s degree programs in middle and secondary school STEM teacher education, with other fields to follow. School leadership programs will be added later, along with professional development programs and a licensing center for teachers and school leaders. The Buckley Teaching and Learning Lab will develop tools to advance teacher and school leader education.

The academy will help transform teacher education and school leadership practices by publicizing its work and informing policymakers of its findings. The academy is intended as a model for teacher and school leader preparation programs around the nation and will work with college and university partners that wish to adopt its model. To facilitate this, the academy’s programs will be open-source.

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Untitled Claude Shannon Documentary

MAY 2017
Filmmaker Mark Levinson explores the enigmatic life of Claude Shannon, the father of information theory.

There are few people of such brilliance and influence that one can say that if they hadn’t existed, the world would be a radically different place. Claude Shannon clearly belongs in that rarefied company. Not only did he create the field of information theory (in 1948), but he identified most of its fundamental problems and solved them. His ideas laid the foundation for the information age, influencing nearly every aspect of modern life, including the fields of computing, communication, language, genetics, cryptography, psychology, artificial intelligence and cosmology. The great mystery is: Why isn’t Claude Shannon a household name?

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Untitled CRISPR Documentary

JULY 2017
The film explores the promise and potential implications and consequences of CRISPR.

Few scientific breakthroughs have leapt from the lab bench to the headlines faster than CRISPR. This revolutionary gene editing tool has already opened up new lines of basic research and holds great promise for applications from agriculture to medicine. It also raises serious questions about what it means to be human.

It is a topic that demands informed public engagement from scientists, policymakers, ethicists, the clergy, the business and legal communities, and average citizens. This feature-length documentary will educate, entertain and provoke discussion. It combines a firm grounding in science with the best of cinematic storytelling.

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Wave Hill Woodland Ecology Research Mentorship Program

JULY 2017
A paid internship program that allows students to conduct fieldwork that improves the environment through ecological restoration.

The Woodland Ecology Research Mentorship (WERM) program is a 14-month internship (July through August of the following year) focused on urban ecology that pairs 10-12 high school students with working scientists. The program targets economically diverse communities that have a demonstrated need for science enrichment programming. WERM utilizes Wave Hill’s woodland as a living laboratory and provides paid internships for students to engage in fieldwork and academic coursework. These internships promote personal and career growth as students improve the environment through ecological restoration. This internship is often their introduction to scientific research and practical work experience. Students receive a stipend based on hours of participation and performance.

WERM interns take two academic courses: “Restoration of NYC’s Natural Areas” and “Mapping NYC’s Urban Environment: An Intro to GIS.” “Restoration of NYC Natural Areas.” The course goals are: learning the science of ecological restoration; enhancing data literacy; developing technical skills; and understanding the role of public policy; and land management. “Mapping NYC’s Urban Environment: An Intro to GIS” offers students an introduction to cartography and the use of geographic information systems, a technology designed to store, analyze, manage and present geographical data. Both courses were created by Wave Hill’s Educators with experts in the field and enable interns to earn college credits.

Interns are assigned to a site in Wave Hill’s woodland to collect data and perform ecological restoration. Working in groups, students are assigned a scientist mentor who helps them develop a substantial research project that demonstrates their ability to conduct high-level research and communicate scientific findings. Projects have included “Habitat Use and Activity Patterns of NYC’s Urban Wildlife” and “New York Botanical Garden Forest Damage Assessment.”

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Wikipedia Year of Science

DECEMBER 2015
A yearlong initiative of the Wiki Education Foundation designed to improve Wikipedia’s potential for communicating accurate and digestible science to the public.

The Wiki Education Foundation (Wiki Ed) supports college and university students in the United States and Canada who want to contribute quality content to Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects.

In 2016, with support from the Simons Foundation, Wiki Ed launched the Wikipedia Year of Science, an unprecedented targeted initiative designed to improve Wikipedia’s potential for communicating science to the public. The project connects higher education classrooms to the publishing power of Wikipedia. As students contribute information to Wikipedia, they improve the depth, diversity and quality of openly accessible science knowledge while gaining important media literacy, research, collaboration and science communication skills.

Support from the Simons Foundation helps Wiki Ed reach new instructors by forming partnerships with academic associations. Simons Foundation support also enables Wiki Ed to develop teaching resources that inspire students to start making quality contributions right away.

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