Monsanto fund awards $3.7 million to Washington University for school science van program

St. Louis, March 22, 2005 *-- The Monsanto Fund has awarded Washington University $3.7 million to develop, build and operate two custom mobile classrooms. Washington University will lead a partnership, including the St. Louis Science Center, the Missouri Botanical Garden, the Saint Louis Zoo, and the University of Missouri-St. Louis, to create and provide programming on the vehicles.

The program will help young elementary school students develop enthusiasm for learning and doing science, through interactive experiences and exhibits. It will also assist teachers in doing classroom science investigations through workshops and materials loans. The program is designed to reach underrepresented public schools, and districts that have low average scores on the third grade science Missouri Achievement Program (MAP) test.

Deborah Patterson, president of the Monsanto Fund, explained the idea behind the project. "We wanted to bring a new level of excitement to science education by creating something that doesn't currently exist," said Patterson. "We came to Washington University because of their experience working hand-in-hand with teachers to effect positive change in the classroom, as well as their research and evaluation expertise."

Development of the first vehicle, which will be designed for grades K-2, will take place this spring. The second vehicle will be built next year. The mobile classroom will be out on St. Louis streets in the fall, as it begins making its first school visits.

To create the program concept, Victoria May, director of science outreach, convened a group of local science educators, including Sally Saldaa, art teacher at Maplewood-Richmond Heights Elementary School, Janice Shayne, K-5 gifted education teacher at Parkway School District Oakbrook Elementary School, and Vhaness Brinker, consultant for the St. Louis Public Schools Vashon Education Compact. Educators from other institutions, including Carol Valenta, senior vice pr

Contact: Dana Benedictus
Washington University in St. Louis

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