Grants from Rebuild Texas Fund and Qatar Harvey Fund Will Support Advanced Mobile STEM Education for Up to 40,000 Students Annually
GAITHERSBURG, Md. & REFUGIO, Texas–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Learning Undefeated, a nonprofit organization that provides life-changing STEM experiences for high needs communities, today introduced two Drop Anywhere Labs to serve Texas schools in areas hard-hit by Hurricane Harvey. Supported by grants from the Rebuild Texas Fund and Qatar Harvey Fund, the Drop Anywhere Labs are custom-built shipping containers that will provide state-of-the-art laboratory and classroom space for middle and high school students across South Texas during the 2019-2020 school year.
“Learning Undefeated brings this new concept in STEM education to Texas as part of our long-standing commitment to serve high needs communities,” said Brian Gaines, CEO of Learning Undefeated. “In the two years since Hurricane Harvey, our mobile disaster recovery education program has enabled students to re-engage with school in a fun way, and helped speed the return to normalcy where schools were damaged or destroyed. With the Drop Anywhere Labs, we hope to inspire even more students with opportunities available to them through interactive STEM experiences.”
Since 2017, Learning Undefeated has served nearly 15,000 Texas students at 27 schools in 11 school districts with its MdBioLab, a self-contained science classroom built on a 45-foot trailer. The addition of the Drop Anywhere Labs, which can each support up to four classes simultaneously, will enable Learning Undefeated to serve an additional 20,000 Texas students in its pilot year, ultimately growing to 40,000 students each school year at full capacity. The mobile lab program provides teaching space and scientific equipment, career exploration activities, lab supplies, during- and after-school programming, and public outreach.
“Learning Undefeated’s mobile laboratory visited our school for several months following Hurricane Harvey, which gave our students the chance to learn science through hands-on activities when the school’s facilities had been destroyed,” said Melissa Gonzales, superintendent of Refugio Independent School District. “This helped our students remain engaged in learning during a time when many other things in their lives were uncertain. We are excited to be the very first Texas school to experience these new Drop Anywhere Labs.” In the 2019-2020 school year, the labs will serve more than 20 school districts, including Houston, Refugio, Woodsboro, Aransas Pass, Vidor, Bloomington and Dickinson.
The Learning Undefeated labs offer education in a number of disciplines, including construction, science and health, biology, chemistry environmental science, forensics, virtual reality and engineering.
”We’re proud to work alongside Learning Undefeated as they make their return visit to Texas. These Drop Anywhere Labs will provide critical support for Texas school districts and communities as they continue to rebuild after Hurricane Harvey. In addition, these labs will be a unique means for our state to prepare for future disasters by deploying the labs in order to provide key learning tools and curriculum for students and teachers in these impacted communities,” said Cristina Cornejo, program manager, Rebuild Texas Fund.
“For many years the State of Qatar has made STEM studies a priority. In fact, support for education has been a key component of the Qatar Harvey Fund as we seek to help communities in southeast Texas more fully recover from Hurricane Harvey,” said His Excellency Sheikh Meshal bin Hamad Al-Thani, Qatar’s ambassador to the U.S. and chair of the Qatar Harvey Fund. “We’re excited that these new science labs will bring the wonders of science to thousands of Texas students and foster their renewed interest in scientific exploration and pursuits.”
Learning Undefeated, the Rebuild Texas Fund and Qatar Harvey Fund were joined today at Refugio High School for a ribbon-cutting ceremony unveiling the Drop Anywhere Labs by Superintendent Gonzales, local elected officials, and teachers and students from Refugio ISD. The ceremony included hands-on STEM activities for students and an open house for educators, parents and the community to explore the Drop Anywhere Labs.
About Learning Undefeated
Learning Undefeated is a non-profit organization that provides life-changing science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education opportunities for underserved communities. Through innovative and experiential education programs for grades K-12, we are sparking interest in STEM careers and building the workforce that will drive the innovation economy. Learning Undefeated’s flagship education program features mobile STEM labs that have provided hands-on learning opportunities to more than 200,000 K-12 students in 18 states since 2003. Learning Undefeated also operates several other celebrated STEM education programs including the Young Science Explorers Program, a summer camp for middle school students; Advancing Tomorrow’s Leaders in STEM (ATLAS) College and Career Exploration Program; STEM Leadership Experience; student competitions; after-school programs; curriculum development; and disaster recovery education. Visit learningundefeated.org or follow on social media @LearningUNDFTD.
About the Rebuild Texas Fund
The Rebuild Texas Fund is a collaborative project of the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation and the OneStar Foundation, established to support the rebuilding efforts in communities impacted by Hurricane Harvey. The Rebuild Texas Fund raised $100M, all of which is at work on the ground in affected Texas communities. We are working alongside these communities throughout 2020 to complete all projects funded. More information about the Rebuild Texas Fund is available at www.rebuildtx.org
About the Qatar Harvey Fund and the State of Qatar
Following the devastation of Hurricane Harvey in August 2017, the State of Qatar announced a gift of $30 million for the long-term recovery of the storm’s victims in Texas. The Qatar Harvey Fund was created to administer the gift. For more information, visit www.QatarHarveyFund.com.
Qatar is an independent state in the southern Arabian Gulf. It has a population of approximately 2.7 million people, the majority of whom live in and around Doha, the capital. Diplomatic relations with the United States were established in 1972; in the same year, Qatar’s first diplomatic mission in Washington, D.C. opened. The relationship between the two countries has always been friendly, highly productive and reciprocal. Qatar is home to many Americans, and the United States is both Qatar’s largest foreign investor and its largest source of imports. Qatar-U.S. relations are growing continuously in multiple areas: economic, political, military, educational and cultural. Qatar is a close ally of the United States and a strong advocate of building a peaceful, prosperous and stable Middle East. Qatar has provided significant humanitarian and development assistance to countries around the world, including the United States.
Brad Wills for Learning Undefeated