2022 Grants Challenge

PS Science's Hands-on, Inquiry-Based Science Education, Enrichment, and Teacher Training

Idea by PS Science

PS Science will bring hands-on, high-quality STEAM education and professional development to 6,000 under-resourced students and their teachers at Title 1 elementary schools throughout L.A. County. Without PS Science, the students we serve would have little to no STEAM learning due to the chronic deficit of meaningful elementary school science education in public schools. Our experiential science education and enrichment programming gives youth a strong STEAM foundation that creates cradle to career pathways to future STEAM professions.


What is the primary issue area that your application will impact?

K-12 STEAM Education

In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

County of Los Angeles

In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?

Expand existing project, program, or initiative

What is your understanding of the issue that you are seeking to address?

The great minds of tomorrow are in elementary school classrooms, but science is not. In fact, the average American elementary classroom devotes less than 20 minutes per day to science, but nearly 90 minutes to English/Language Arts and nearly one hour to mathematics, according to the National Survey of Science and Mathematics Education. Making science a fundamental part of K-5 instruction leverages students’ natural curiosity about the world, according to a 2021 National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine report. Furthermore, ensuring elementary school students, starting in kindergarten, spend sufficient time learning science each week is essential for the future STEM workforce and the pursuit of living wage jobs. Yet, the nation has a poor track record of advancing students of color out of K-12 into postsecondary learning opportunities and on to STEM professions. In fact, people of color make up 36% of the U.S. adult population but occupy only 11% of STEM positions.

Describe the project, program, or initiative this grant will support to address the issue.

PS Science’s high-quality, stimulating programs ignite the curiosity of students from low-wealth backgrounds in the world around them, give youth a strong STEAM foundation for future academic and career success, and inspire the next generation of innovators starting in elementary school. PS Science delivered its foundational science curriculum to 5,400+ K-5th grade students (the vast majority of whom are Black or Latinx and 76% come from low-income families) at Title 1 elementary schools throughout L.A. County during the 2021-22 school year. Weekly lessons include 60-90 minutes of engaging science experiments and hands-on activities that invite students to use their own curiosity and observations to “figure things out.” Our PS Science Instructors are content and teaching experts who work in coordination with classroom teachers to deliver a blend of biology, physics, earth science, chemistry, and engineering curricula—all fully prepared hands-on lesson materials are included and delivered to classrooms each week. Our instructors also provide customized teacher training and coaching, including instructional video lessons and email support. Beyond in-school programming, youth are engaged outside of normal school hours via after school science and coding clubs, family science nights engaging the whole family, spring break and S-TEAM Rangers summer camps, and enrichment classes, which further enforce science education PS Science delivers in school.

Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.

Our unique model builds a bedrock of science knowledge among students at under-resourced elementary schools through hands-on, in-person instruction and customized teacher coaching — equipping schools to be able to offer a vibrant STEAM curriculum for cohorts of L.A. County students to come. Our standards-aligned science lessons not only give students the foundational science skills needed to thrive in upper-level science coursework, but also help them actualize STEAM professions as viable career paths and see science as a source of joy that ignites their imagination. With a grant through LA2050, PS Science will bring STEAM education to 6,000 under-resourced students — an 80% increase in students since the previous school year — and professional development to their teachers throughout L.A. PS Science will utilize funds to serve up to 50 additional classrooms of K-5th-grade students — equipping the next generation to pursue higher education and thrive in the future STEAM workforce.

What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?

Our high-quality science curriculum and enrichment programming has a proven track record of success. On average, PS Science students scored 84% higher than the national average on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) Cracking Concrete assessment, and 145% higher on a subset of questions that required more demanding critical thinking. PS Science will achieve the following student learning outcomes this year based on results from our evaluations from the previous school year: •80% of students will be more capable of using the NGSS Science and Engineering Practices, as rated by their teachers. •95% of students and teachers report being highly satisfied with PS Science. •75% of students report an increased interest in STEAM careers. •90% of teachers report increased confidence in conducting hands-on science instruction. “Thank you for making science so much fun! You make me feel like a real scientist, paleontologist, and engineer!” -Malia, 5th grade PS Science student.

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?

Direct Impact: 6,215

Indirect Impact: 18,215