Practice, Practice, Practice! Next Generation Science Standard Practices, Synonymous with Science Fairs…

I recently gave a talk at the 2013 Massachusetts STEM Summit, held at the Foxboro MA Patriots stadium, focused on STEM and innovation/entrepreneurship.  One of the key focuses of the talk was the upcoming Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), following the US-wide adoption of the Common Core Math and English standards.  26 of the 50 states have agreed to be part in the drafting and adoption of these standards, and more are expected to participate as well.

So, in the coming years, science departments across the US will be looking to find new ways to align their curriculum with these new standards, which include more rigorous and deep science content as well as logic processes/methods.  One such method we all know very well in the science fair community is the scientific method.

However, the term “scientific method” appears to have been replaced by the term “practices”, which encompass the very same processes promoted widely by science fairs for the past nearly 70 years.  However, by incorporating the “practices” more concretely into a national set of science standards, we may soon begin to see science fairs institutionalized in the American educational landscape.  Half a century ago, science fairs were ingrained in the US formal school culture, but due to a variety of factors (decreased funding in education across the board, more focus on a smaller subset of frameworks to improve standardized testing scores nationally, fewer school hours and less lab time, etc…) science fairs have become less of a national priority, despite the best efforts of the current administration to highlight the very best STEM students in the US.

Currently, it is thought that less than a quarter of all US students participate in a science fair of one kind or another — however, thanks to NGSS, this number may soon be on the rise as science departments grapple with a way to fulfill the practice standard requirements.  The science fair, was once seen as an innovative way to offer real world experiences to students in the sciences, and perhaps inspire them to become scientists or engineers.  Now, the science fair has re-emerged as an innovative way to

For those who doubt that the NGSS practices are in fact science fairs by another name, take a look at the following slide I presented at the Summit, which contrasts the 8 NGSS practice areas against the typical science fair process:

NGSS Practices & Science Fairs

Looks like for US science teachers and public school students alike, the next few years will be the time to pick up their old science fair curriculum resources and practice, practice, practice!

- Barnas Monteith

3 Great Videos About Entering Your State Science Fair!

Brought to you by the Massachusetts State Science & Engineering Fair, Inc. (MSSEF) – one of the oldest dedicated science inquiry non profits in the nation, started over 65 years ago.  Hosted by WBZ Meteorologist and science education activist, Mish Michaels:

The Anatomy of A Science Fair Project:

This Isn’t Your Father’s Science Fair!

About MSSEF & State Science Fairs

MSSEF’s Board of Directors has been Chaired by MisterScienceFair’s Barnas Monteith for 5 years, recently and he is now heading up a team of people to revitalize the organization’s mission and strategic plan.  One of the new missions of the organization is to spread the word about science fairs through social media.  Help us out by liking this post and tweeting about it.  Every link makes a big difference — thank you!


Patent Your Science Fair & Engineering Fair Ideas

Insider Science Fair Tip: Patent your ideas before or during your science fair

Some of the greatest ideas in the world had their start in a science fair.  From inspiring Nobel prize winners to become scientists, to actually unveiling groundbreaking new ideas, science fairs are no longer venues for mixing red-dye colored vinegar and baking soda, in a big pile of clay with a hole and calling it a volcano.  Nowadays, there’s real science going on.  More than not, science fairs of today are places for cutting edge science & engineering in the making, and brand new inventions.  Not only do many science fair projects end up becoming published peer reviewed research or even doctoral theses, but it turns out that many ideas you find at science fairs are quite patentable.  In fact, in recent years, students can receive patents as one of their awards.  Massachusetts was at the forefront of this new phenomenon.

What’s a patent?  A patent is a way that countries allow for people with great ideas to have a time-limited exlusive right to commercialize or license that idea.  It is effectively a government-condoned time-limited monopoly.  It is meant as a legal reward for coming up with innovative new ideas, and for putting in the effort to do the scientific testing behind those ideas, to help society and/or the economy as a whole.

Fish & Richardson is a patent law company in Boston with a formidable reputation and which has been in business for over a century.  In fact, they did the original patents for Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell.  However, they recognize that not all the greatest ideas in the world come from geniuses, nor from adults.  For the past 5 years, they have been collaborating with the MA State Science & Engineering Fair to offer a very special award to the top students, with the most patentable projects.  The Fish & Richardson Patent Award is carefully selected by a team of experienced attorneys, who do their “judging” somewhat secretly in advance of the fair by reading through all the abstracts.  Then, after pre-selecting a number of projects to explore further, they judge for real and in-person at our annual high school statewide science fair, held at MIT (a good reason to make sure you are at your project at all times during the entire judging hours, even if you’re finished with your regular judges).  They select several projects which they deem original, unique and patentable and give out awards during the regular award ceremony, on a weighted scale based both on rank and “patentability”.

The important thing to note about science & engineering fairs is that they are generally speaking, public events.  So, if you have an unpatented idea, and you release it during a science fair, it can be “stolen” by just about anybody legitimately.  It’s important to have proper patent protection in place when doing public events.  A provisional patent (see the US patent process here: is a simple way to patent your idea easily with or without an attory for around $100 for a one year period, during which you can negotiate a license deal which may be able to pay the full filing fees (filing a real, long term patent can cost thousands to tens of thousands of dollars).  It offers full protection, but you one get one year.

Fish & Richardson’s patent award, however, is the full prosecution, using their world class attorneys, and can be valued on the upwards of $30K or even $40K.

Here are a few examples of projects which have won MSSEF Fish & Richardson patent awards and have received their full patents, as high school students:

  • Soap that changes color when you wash your hands long enough
  • A better more comfortable low cost back brace for people with severe back problems
  • A medical device that measures slight tremors and is able to predict epileptic seizures and severe episodes for people with neurological disorders
  • … to name a few – 100% of the students who win the patent award so far have received their full patents

So, enter a patent competition today – or consider filing a provisional patent before your science fair.  Not many young people do it — but it will win you big credentials if you do!




Gender Schmender: Girls Love Science – Science Fair Participation By Girls Is On The Rise

“Girls Can’t Do Math” –  is a favorite sarcastic saying, from my colleague Penny Noyce at Tumblehome Learning.  She of course is very skilled at math, and an M.D., writer, editor and philanthropist among dozens of other things, who has served on various math and other educational committees (most recently, being appointed to the MA Board of Education).  Naturally, she does not really believe girls can’t do math – in fact, she has spent a lot of her life proving just the opposite, and that’s why she decided to co-write a song called “Girls can’t do math”, to make fun of the very idea that gender plays any role in mathematical intelligence.

For many years, those of us in education circles regularly sat around tables worrying that girls were not involved in science fairs, and weren’t doing as well in certain testing areas, particularly those involving math and engineering.  We would try to find ways to encourage more girls to try to think of science and engineering as fun.  It turned out, that new data suggests not only do girls enjoy science & engineering,(and according to recent testing, may be better than boys in these subjects), but girls now consistently outnumber boys in science fairs.  I remember the turning point, nearly 6 years ago, when in MA, we had a larger percentage of girls than boys entering the MA State Science & Engineering Fair, as well as related fairs.  And ever since then, the trend has continued in full force.

I had the great pleasure to attend the Science Club for Girls Catalyst Awards the other night in Boston.  A wonderful organization led by former tenure track biology academic, Connie Chow, and was pleasantly surprised to find one of my former mentors at Tufts, who is now President of the Museum of Science, winning an award for his contributions to increasing the number of girls interested in science and engineering.

Connie Chow, Speaking About the Myths of Girls and Science

So, for those of you who still somehow feel that gender, or race or anything else for that matter, plays a role in how much you can achieve in life, think again!

Science Fair or Science Unfair?

A lot of people talk to me about the fairness of science “fairs”.  Although I have not really gone through all the data nation-wide, it occurs to me that since the beginning of science fairs, there have always been certain high schools in every state that tend to take all the top prizes year after year.  They’re usually schools in the big cities, with all the universities/colleges and corporate laboratories around, or private/well-funded public academies with immense financial, mentoring and facility resources behind them.  I have heard this not just at my own fair, the MA State Science & Engineering Fair, but also in conversations with administrators of other state and international fairs too.  People often worry that the social and economic inequalities between regions play a major role in the quality of their schools’ teachers and facilities (and rightly so), but also their science fairs and other forms of inquiry learning and assessments.  Generally speaking, the highest need regions do not even participate in science fairs, due to lack of sufficient funds.  In fact, having spent the past several years living largely in China and Taiwan, I have seen first-hand substantial economic inequality, that goes on – and it’s far beyond just the education system.  So, naturally, teachers and students can get a feeling of dejection: “why should I bother?  we can’t win”.

Well, I am here to tell you that is entirely true that science fairs, are admittedly, in a way “science unfairs.”  There are indeed some built-in biases.  But I also believe there are social and other biases in standardized testing as well.  Some schools are in such high need areas that they can barely hire enough qualified teachers in order for students to pass basic testing, let along support an activity such as a science fair.  So, it is understandable that one can feel the odds are stacked against them in this type of environment.  There is however hope.  There is still a way to succeed.  Take it from someone who won the top prize at two International Science Fairs, from a school district without a local science fair program, and which was recently listed as one of the several most underperforming schools in the state, out of hundreds of districts.

As I have had some involvement in the policy side of science fairs, I’ve spoken with legislators as well as folks as high up as the Governor’s office to talk about how we can level the playing field and make science “unfairs” fair again.   I’ve also been involved with programs such as the MSSEF / Gelfand Charitable Trusts’ Curious Minds Initiative, which helps support the founding of science fairs and training of teachers in high needs districts.  This particular program is a small success story, and certainly we need many more of these, but the path is long and difficult – and somewhat expensive to do it right.

For those families and teachers who really want to engage in science fair projects, there are still ways that you can win, even when it seems the odds are completely against you.  Nowadays, judges are specifically asked to consider the resources available, when judging a project.  And it is because of that, you can still see first prizes handed out to small brown cardboard backed projects, and the high gloss printed 6 foot tall display board projects with an ipad on the table can still walk away with nothing.  Although it may not always be the case in every situation.  As science fair administrators, we consider science fairs an alternative assessment, a celebration of knowledge, and an opportunity for learning, rather than a competition.  We try to bring “fairness” to the fairs, in all situations.  However, while we don’t have the money to provide more teachers, resources and lab facilities to every school, we can certainly provide some level of teacher training (both for new teachers and new science fair administrators), assistance with SRC and setup of project plans, all the necessary paperwork, and many other forms of support.  We also like to share our personal knowledge and experiences and pointers to what we consider the best resources out there (that are either free or as little cost as possible), and that is what I aim to do with

Over many years of being on the “inside” of science fairs, I’ve seen tons of kids with virtually no resources at all win the very top prize.  And that is precisely why there is still a chance for everyone to win. is chock full of information and tips, and it’s all totally free.  Use it to your advantage, and don’t worry if someone else has a more well funded school district or if other kids have bigger shinier boards – it doesn’t mean a thing.   Above all just try your best to do it, and have fun.

Welcome to /!

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Vist back regularly and stay tuned for an upcoming website with everything you need to know about science fairs, how to come up with ideas, make a project — and even strategies on how to win your local, state or even international science fairs!

It is our goal to provide as much information as possible to you about all kinds of science fairs, for all ages, for FREE!

The site will go live in the coming weeks, so in the meantime, be sure to sign up for our e-newsletter using the contact form below.  We are very concerned about children’s safety and we do not share your emails with any other party – commercial, non profit or otherwise.

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Science scores rise with hands-on and choice

Eighth grade students who do more hands-on science projects in class score higher on a national science test than students who do fewer projects, according to the “The Nation’s Report Card” released this week.  So do students who take advantage of opportunities to do science “not for school.”

In 2011, a sample of 122,000 students from all the states took the science section of the National Assessment of Educational Progress.  Their performance was measured in physical, life, and earth and space science, using a combination of multiple choice and open-answer questions.  The NAEP is a good, thoughtful test, not narrowly pitched at a particular curriculum and not a test students can cram for.

Overall, on a 300-point scale, students in 2011 scored 2 points better than on the previous test administration in 2009. African-American and Hispanic students made the most progress, slightly narrowing the achievement gap between them and their white or Asian peers.

Science performance still strongly correlates with family income.  Students eligible for free or reduced-price school lunch (45% of students) score 27 points lower on the science NAEP than their more affluent classmates.  Two years ago, the difference was 28 points. And male students on average score 5 points higher than female students.

Along with the test questions, students and teachers answer questions about their background, attitudes, and practices within the science classroom.  These answers can be correlated with student scores to see if some practices are associated with higher scores.  Of course, correlation does not prove causation, but it does raise hypotheses for further investigation.

In the 2009 science NAEP, higher student scores were strongly correlated with classrooms that spent more time on hands-on science projects.  The median 8th grade student works on a hands-on activity or investigation in class once or twice weekly.  The more often they do, the higher their scores: students who did hands-on investigations almost daily scored 16 point higher than those who did so almost never.  Presumably the latter students were doing most of their learning from books and worksheets.

Also positive, but less strongly so, was the correlation between working together with other students on a science project and student performance.  Here the score difference between those doing so almost daily and those never doing so was 7 points.

The impact of student interest and out-of-school involvement in science activities can be discerned from another question, asking students whether they agree with the statement, “I do science–related activities that are not for school.”  29% of students agree.  Those who strongly agree perform 16 points better than those who strongly disagree.

For us at Tumblehome Learning, these findings underline our commitment to providing fun, engaging, scientifically sound stories and activities for students to pursue on their own or with friends.  Let’s bump up that 29% of students who do science even when they don’t have to.  With interest comes effort, improved learning, and opportunity.  That’s where we’re aiming.


New Generation, New Power: The 2012 Taiwan International Science Fair

New generation, new power — that’s the slogan of the 2012 TISF, or Taiwan International Science Fair.  It is a year of change for the TISF, as well as a year of growth.  Hundreds of students, from 17 countries have participated in this year’s TISF, including representatives from Intel ISEF (the International Science & Engineering Fair), displaying projects in the following subject areas:  mathematical sciences, physics & astronomy, chemistry, earth & planetary sciences, animal sciences, plant sciences, microbiology, biochemistry, medicine & health, engineering, computer science and environmental science.

THL’s Barnas Monteith and Penny Noyce, while visiting Taiwan, had the opportunity to attend several events of the TISF, which is a week long event, held in the Shihlin district of Taipei.  Many of you may know Shilin as the Tourist Night Market area, where you can get such famous Taiwan street snacks as “tso doufu” (stinky tofu), oajen (fried oyster omelets), xiangchang (Taiwanese sausage on a stick), not to mention various parts of chickens, ducks and other animals grilled, broiled, fried or otherwise cooked on a stick (which the author of this blog loves by the way).   However, Shilin district is also home to various educational science museums such the National Taiwan Space Museum , and the National Taiwan Science Education Center (NTSEC), which is the host organization of TISF.

The week-long international science fair started off with a welcoming event at the Grand Hotel, which is only  a short distance away from the NTSEC.  The Director General of the NTSEC, Dr. Chu Nyan Shan, welcomed all to the event with inspiring words of encouragement, on behalf of the 56 year old institute, and home to the ever-expanding TISF.   Following the welcoming speeches and flag event, was a  “Meet the Scientist” lecture and panel discussion featuring:  Academician (meaning, a fellow of Academia Sinica, Taiwan’s premier Academic council, similar to the US AAAS)  Dr. C. Y. Cyrus Chu (朱敬一院士) , economist and newly appointed head of the Taiwan National Science Council, Academician Dr. “Frank” Hsia-San Shu  (徐遐生院士), energy researcher and head of the Taiwan Central Normal University, and Academician Dr. Chao Han Liu (劉兆漢院士), a climate scientist and one of the key innovators behind Taiwan’s Formosat weather satellite array, and its 12 satellite array successor, COSMIC, partly funded by the US/NOAA.   Ambassadors and other delegates from various countries were in attendance, not to mention honored guests Penny Noyce of the Noyce Foundation and Barnas Monteith of the MA State Science & Engineering Fair.

Left to Right: Dr. Chao Han Liu (劉兆漢院士), Dr. “Frank” Hsia-San Shu (徐遐生院士), and Dr. C. Y. Cyrus Chu (朱敬一院士)

Students at TISF face a rigorous week of educational workshops, lectures at local universities, cultural events, not to mention multiple rounds of judging, followed by press events and public viewing days, prior to the final grand award ceremony, in which the top award (a full scholarship to anywhere in the world) is presented by Taiwan President Ma Ying Jiu.  THL’s Penny Noyce and Barnas Monteith attended one of the public viewing days and had a chance to meet with a few inspiring students and see their projects.

Observing Sudden Stratosphere Warming by Using data from Formosat III, a team project by several students at an all-girls school in central Taiwan, looks at data from one of Taiwan NSPO’s (the equivalent of NASA in the US) active high resolution weather satellites.   The data was used to demonstrate that there are substantially more dramatic seasonal warming trends observed in the upper atmosphere, as altitude increases.

Employing GPS to Observe Tsunami-Ionospheric Disturbances, another team project by students from an all boys school in central Taiwan, takes a look at NOAA oceanic data trends to determine subtle weather patterns surrounding Tsunami events, in order to attempt to create a predictive model.

Seeing With Your Tongue, is a part-biology, part-engineering project by an enthusiastic international student from Romania, who provided a lengthy explanation of a novel method to aid the blind in seeing, through the use of a camera which can recognize written characters such a street signs and convert them to tactile (touch) signals on the tongue.  Because the human tongue contains a large number of nerves (more than most other areas of the body), it is an ideal location to provide high resolution “touch response” information to a person, and a small tongue sensor device is a portable way to be able to see on the go, in a pinch.  The device also operates like a visual aid, warning the user of any impending danger or nearby objects, through vibrations.

The projects at TISF were mind blowing, some clearly worth of patents, and certainly all would be competitive at the Intel International Science & Engineering Fair, perhaps even a select few may someday lead to Nobel prizes in the not-too-distant future.

TISF has been a recognized and highlighted success for Intel Taiwan, as well – the fair’s primary corporate sponsor, with TISF winners placing extremely well at ISEF, and spreading the adoption of inquiry learning into classrooms across Taiwan.   As mentioned above, it is also a year of change for TISF.  At the helm of the fair is new Executive Director Christina Huang, taking over for Marianna Fung, who was instrumental in consolidating a national science fair for the country of Taiwan, and then expanding it into a grand multi-nation event at Taiwan’s premier science education center.  Christina is also accompanied by various new staff who will assist in leading TISF moving forward, as well as a commitment from Intel to fund TISF well into the future.

Left to right: Dr. Chu Nyan Shan, Director-General of NTSEC, MSSEF's Barnas Monteith, Noyce Foundation's Penny Noyce, and Rachel Liu, Head of Intel Education, Taiwan

While TISF is an amazing success story, evolving from a central science fair for a handful of regional fairs throughout the country to a globally recognized event in a span of not much more than a decade, it also faces challenges.  The issues facing the TISF, and science fairs throughout Taiwan are many, and not dissimilar to ones faced in the US and even in states with considerable academic talent and scientific/engineering resources such as Massachusetts.  Funding for science fair / inquiry related materials and learning time in public schools and private schools alike, throughout the country, is relatively meager.  Schools are faced with increased focus on tested curriculum, and accountability of teachers.  Not to mention, while schools in Taiwan spend considerably more time on science & engineering than US schools, they also face a shortage of resources (related both to learning time and physical facilities), and often parents with means supplement their child’s education with after-school “bushiban” courses, and standardized testing prep “cram” courses.   Resource inequality continues to be a problem, where cities and private schools have access to considerably more resources than the public schools in remote or “high needs” regions.  Sometimes, students and teachers are left discouraged, feeling like sometimes the science fair, can actually be a “science unfair”.  These are the very problems that face the MA State Science & Engineering Fair, which is now a 63 year old organization, as well as regional and state fairs across America.  However, take it from a kid who grew up in a lower middle class suburb who won ISEF and other major fairs – a few times… hands on learning is not just for the rich, and as the cliché goes, where there’s a will there’s a way.  Competitive science fair projects can indeed be done on a shoestring budget – and so can inquiry hands-on learning.  I discuss ways to get really expensive science experiments done for almost no money, in my upcoming book about science fairs: Dinosaur Eggs & Blue Ribbons.   Like our other initial release books, DE&BR will be translated into complex/traditional Mandarin and offered in English in the US and in English & Mandarin in Taiwan (as well as other languages in other countries, in the future).  Getting to my next point…one more very big problem facing TISF students from Taiwan as well as other international students in general is language barrier: students in Taiwan and other developed countries are faced with a deluge of increased assessments over time, and most of them require more and more scientific/technical English.  In the US, while we do have secondary language requirements in most schools, we do not require students to conduct significant amounts of testing in other languages (or at least not as it relates to anything but a test of the language itself).  It would be difficult for me to imagine having conducted my science fair judging sessions in Mandarin Chinese when I was just 14 years old, so I can only imagine how difficult it must be for others to not only learn conversational English, but to learn technical vocabulary at such a young age.  It goes well above and beyond just learning a subject matter, and devising a novel experiment or designing a new engineering concept – it is learning a whole other culture, and I have great respect for students who are able to do this effectively.  The students we saw at TISF are truly talented and amazing individuals (and teams)!

Student at TISF showing his SEM micrographs of insect specimen

One of our primary goals in founding Tumblehome Learning was to offer parents and teachers supplemental out-of-school learning materials at a low cost, that are actually fun — not just the boring day to day classroom lessons that tend not to inspire children to want to become scientists, engineers or educators in these fields.   Whether kids choose to become scientists or not, THL’s learning materials are an easy investment for most parents/teachers to offer young ones a look into a different world, and to provide an opportunity for critical thinking and inquiry learning that might not otherwise exist in the formal learning environment.   Our goal is not only to encourage the next MSSEF/Intel winners and TISF winners, but to inspire a life of constant exploration and learning.


Books as a Pipeline to Get More Kids Involved In Science Fairs

This Post Was Originally Published on the Tumblehome Learning Website, Written by Pendred Noyce:

Education in many countries across the globe, including the U.S., has been steadily moving in the direction of increased prioritization on assessment and accountability.  While fair and adaptive standardized testing and increasing/maintaining teacher quality are certainly critical to improving education, the balance of time spent on science & engineering labs and assigned inquiry-type homework projects has been generally decreasing in most areas.   Economic downturns have meant a severe lack of funding for many school systems, which has further compounded these issues, as schools struggle to maintain minimum quality computing and scientific lab equipment, especially in high needs areas.  Formal after school extended learning, enrichment, and school system supported (although often extracurricular) programs such as science fairs and robotics competitions have begun to play a more important role in supplementing the hands on learning needs of young children .  Whereas even without inquiry based learning, students may in some cases show improvements in science, math and engineering subject related test scores, the lack of involvement in the first hand experience of witnessing an amazing chemistry experiment (and by that we mean more than just putting a few mentos in a Diet Coke bottle, although that is quite cool), programming a robot, building a model airplane, or doing a science fair project, can lead to a lack of interest in these subjects.  In fact, it is expected that based on current declining student interest rates in STEM fields within the U.S., and in many other areas across the globe, there will be a shortage of scientists and engineers, not to mention teachers in these subject areas, compared to the predicted demand in the not-too-distant future.

That means fewer biochemists and medical specialists to create drugs and devices to combat health problems, fewer civil and architectural engineers to design and build safe roads, buildings, and other infrastructure needs, fewer agricultural scientists to help create and maintain efficient crops and healthy livestock, as the need for more food increases across the globe, fewer materials and electronics engineers to help find new sources of alternative energy and use that energy efficiently, etc..  As parents, teachers and mentors, we all just want to provide the best opportunities for the young people around us in our lives – and a career in science or engineering can certainly be one rewarding path.  However, society as a whole needs scientists and engineers to help make the world go around, and to improve people’s health and general quality of life.  When learning becomes bland, and fun is replaced by testing, and true critical thinking skills are replaced by rote memorization and test-taking formulas, young students become less inspired to WANT TO LEARN and less inspired to ENTER THE WORLD of science & engineering.   At THL, we want to change that way of thinking.   We want kids not only to realize the potential opportunities that are out there, but to feel them with their own hands.  We want society as a whole to have a good reason to get excited about STEM learning, and understand why it’s important for all of us.  We are studying education methods and learning materials throughout the world, to develop and share best practices

In recent surveys by a statewide science fair organization, it was discovered that roughly half of all program alumni respondents were influenced in their career and college choices because of their involvement in a school, regional or statewide science fair.  There is considerable peer reviewed published data to suggest that students do not necessarily choose their career paths in college when they choose their majors, as one might think, but rather in earlier years — as early as elementary school.  In fact, it has been suggested that if a student is not positively influenced to enter a STEM career by middle school, with reinforced interest throughout high school, then it becomes unlikely that student will enter a STEM career in the future.  The name of the game is influencing young minds as early as possible, by tapping their curiosity, and allowing them to learn at their own pace, in a way that they can truly enjoy.

A good story is a great way to engage the mind.  We’ve all heard of Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, Indiana Jones, Sherlock Holmes and other such fictional heroes, who solve mysteries, and face adventures – at times with a multitude of enemies and overwhelming odds stacked against them – to save the day.  At THL, we utilize a variety of exciting storylines with relatable characters as a vehicle for delivering cutting edge science & engineering knowledge, as well as concepts which follow modern engineering design methodologies and the scientific process.  We cover a wide variety of subjects, and introduce characters of diverse backgrounds throughout the books.  In our elementary Galactic Academy of Science(G.A.S.) series, the books  are centered around a group of students from different backgrounds entering a science fair project, as team members, and as they begin to search for ideas about what to work on for their projects, are suddenly drawn into a detective mystery, filled with heart-pounding adventures involving various well known  or historically significant real-world scientists and engineers throughout space and time.   Throughout the story, students are introduced to concepts and content which help them along their pathway to solving the mystery, winning the science fair, and just maybe being inducted into the Galactic Academy of Science.

While THL’s core products are centered around science mystery and adventure books as well as related online or physically published written content, we encourage children and parents to supplement reading with hands-on activities.  THL’s core products are packaged with “kit” materials which align with the various lessons in each of our books.  Standalone THL books are also available, and supplemental resources are made available through tablet/phone/device software or online, through virtual learning games and puzzles, optional physical learning kits, and even activities that can be done with materials floating around the house [NOTE: some materials are still in development and will be available during 2012].  Our materials additionally encourage students to enter real world science fairs, robotics competitions  and other activities, and resources are made freely available through our printed materials and website.

Hands on learning is at the heart of THL’s mission.  So, get your hands on some THL books and kits and begin inspiring young minds today!  Available by pre-order, shipping in April — or come see us at the USSEF in Washington D.C. at the end of April — details in our News section.