This blog post was written by Mark Loveland, Senior Research Associate, and Michelle Tiu, Research Associate, both members of the Science, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics (STEM) program at WestEd.

We’re very excited to be partnering with NewSchools Ignite, an initiative of NewSchools Venture Fund, in the implementation of the Science Learning Challenge, a contest that launched in late July 2015 to accelerate the development of technology-enabled tools that support K-12 students’ development of science and engineering skills.

The Science Learning Challenge will award up to $1.5 million in grants to be distributed among up to 15 Challenge winners.

Our team at WestEd will work closely with the entrepreneurs selected to participate in the Science Learning Challenge. Grant recipients will receive product design feedback from a research perspective, and recommendations rooted in current education technology and science education literature.

We’ll also collaborate with grant recipients on small-scale studies targeting product usability and feasibility in the classroom, and on studies that evaluate products’ early potential for improving students’ education outcomes in STEM.

The assistance we will provide is based on the edtech-related research that WestEd’s STEM program has conducted over the past several years with such clients as the U.S. Department of Education’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the Public Broadcasting Service’s Ready To Learn grant, and the Change the Equation STEMworks initiative.

We look forward to providing feedback and collaborating with the companies and nonprofits involved in the Science Learning Challenge, and ultimately making a difference in the success of students’ STEM skills, education, and careers.

Here are recent articles and commentary about this initiative:

From TechCrunch:  NewSchools Venture Fund Launches An Ed Tech Accelerator With A Focus on Science Learning

From Forbes: EdTech is Hot, Except When It’s Not: Accelerating Innovation in Market Gaps

From District Administration: New Fund Created to Back Creating of K12 Technology 

From  The Journal:  Non-Profit Venture Fund Seeks Science Ed Start-Ups