By Bethany Alex
The U.S. National Report Card recently collected data illustrating a devastating equation. At every stage of education, kindergarten through senior, students who attend high-poverty schools are least likely to have access to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) resources, courses and opportunities.
MobileMinds program, a branch of the FAU Stiles-Nicholson Brain Institute’s ASCEND (Advancing STEM Engagement through Neuroscience Discovery), was created to help combat that staggering deficiency by bringing STEM education on the road and into the classroom to give students equal access to brain science education.
“The statistics are staggering but can be overcome with fresh, innovative ideas and creative educational opportunities to close the STEM gap,” said Nicole Baganz, director of community and engagement and programming for FAU’s Stiles-Nicholson Brain Institute, which includes
MobileMinds. “The MobileMinds program has become a reality with the generous support from the Per and Astrid Heidenreich Family Foundation and Impact the Palm Beaches, giving us the capability to inspire their young minds and realize that their future in science is possible.”
And it looks like there’s a long road ahead for MobileMinds. The Per and Astrid Heidenreich Family Foundation, a private philanthropic foundation, recently pledged $160,000 to the MobileMinds program to offset costs associated with operations, equipment and educational resources necessary for program implementation in Title I schools, where children from low-income families make up nearly half of the enrollment, and afterschool centers in Palm Beach and Martin counties. The program also received $13,050 from the merit grant program with Impact the Palm Beaches, a philanthropic organization dedicated to enhancing educational programs and projects in Palm Beach County schools.
The MobileMinds program is geared towards middle school students, grades six through eight, and is completely voluntary and free to the schools and students. In partnership with the Cox Science Museum and Aquarium, MobileMinds offers students an engaging, expert-led brainy curriculum and technologically advanced experience, bringing the frontier of brain science education to their classroom desks. Last year, FAU’s Stiles-Nicholson Brain
Institute secured funding from the Stiles-Nicholson Foundation, the Palm Health Foundation and the Cox Science Center and Aquarium to obtain the MobileMinds vehicle. The acquisition of the van launched the mobile program into action, bringing scientists, educators and resources into
“The generous funding opportunities give the program the ability to extend our mobile educational outreach programs to more students in our community and surrounding counties, particularly in areas that have been historically underserved,” said Chelsea Bennice, Ph.D., assistant director of ASCEND. “Bringing STEM learning to these students is not only to introduce them to the content but to promote innovating thinking, creative methodologies and logical problem-solving. With the funding, we can cultivate a high-impact program to inspire the next generation of global thinkers.”