Winter Forum competition tackles science, math education

Ideas aim at science and math curricula.

The challenge was to come up with new ideas for improving science and math education in the U.S. and India in forty-eight hours. While all earned praise, three of those initiatives earned cash prizes that benefited nonprofit organizations.

The competition was part of the 2014 Winter Forum, the annual two-and-a-half-day symposium on a topic of global concern sponsored by the Office of Undergraduate Education and hosted by the Sanford School’s Center for Child and Family Policy. About 100 students return to campus during winter break to work in small groups that include faculty members and relevant experts and specialists. Guest speakers offer inspiration. This time speakers included former North Carolina governors Jim Hunt and Beverly Perdue; Dan Kimberg ’07, founder of Student U, a Durham-based education program; and as the keynote speaker, Maya Ajmera M.P.P. ’93, who started the Global Fund for Children while a graduate student in public policy.

First place went to the STEM Pal’s group, which recommended creating a website that shared science and math curricula between the U.S. and India. The proposal also calls for creating customized science lab kits to build practical items such as lamps, pumps, or latrines. The Learning Is My Job team won second place for its idea to pay middle-schoolers to teach and serve as role models to younger children to help address student retention issues. The third-place winner—also awarded “people’s choice” by the audience—was Gearing Up. The team proposed a bicycle repair program that teaches basic principles of engineering and physics.

The winning teams received $1,500, $1,000, and $500 respectively. The “people’s choice” team received another $500 to donate.

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