Monsanto grants $2.2 million to help expand MySci at WUSTL

Institute for School Partnership’s cornerstone program to have permanent home on campus

Washington University in St. Louis’ Institute for School Partnership (ISP) has received a $2.2 million grant from the Monsanto Fund to take the institute’s cornerstone program, MySci, to the next level.

In its eighth year serving the St. Louis community, MySci’s mission is to cultivate the region’s next generation of scientists by engaging elementary students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) through interactive learning experiences and creative curriculum. Its familiar multicolored “Investigation Station” bus has been a welcome site in the community since 2005.

In the past eight years, MySci programs have impacted 43,837 elementary students and worked with 108 schools in the St. Louis area. In addition, 2,334 area science teachers have participated in professional development workshops within the MySci program.

The Monsanto Fund contributed $3.7 million in 2005 to help start the program. In addition to that initial grant by Monsanto Fund, MySci grew because of a collaborative effort between WUSTL’s Science Outreach, the St. Louis Science Center, the Missouri Botanical Garden and the Saint Louis Zoo.

“A Monsanto Fund grant helped start the program in 2005 and now a Monsanto Fund grant is carrying it forward,” says Victoria L. May, assistant dean of Arts & Sciences and director of the Institute for School Partnership at WUSTL.

This newest grant will help transform the existing MySci program into a multifaceted approach that will both deepen the science content available within the MySci curriculum and broaden the reach of the MySci brand within the education and public community.

Deborah Patterson, president of the Monsanto Fund, helped spearhead the effort.

“MySci is an exemplary program that St. Louis-area students are lucky to have as an educational resource for the past eight years,” Patterson says. “A well-rounded and inquiry-based science experience is important to a student’s educational success and Monsanto Fund is proud to support the expansion of the MySci program.”

MySci headquarters at North Campus

Highlighting the newest facet of the program will be MySci headquarters at WUSTL’s North Campus, a warehouse at 6601 Vernon Ave., scheduled to open this fall.

There, MySci teaching materials will be stored and refurbished. The space also will hold classrooms for MySci workshops and house a storefront that will provide easy and affordable access to science materials and loaner equipment.

“This will help level the playing field for teachers and school districts,” May says. “It will provide an opportunity for all districts to access exemplary curriculum and materials to actively engage students in scientific investigations.”

And the Investigation Station will continue to rove the St. Louis area, making it accessible to the public at larger school and community events.

Other facets of the MySci program moving forward include: MySci Ambassadors; MySci-to-Go Curriculum and Materials Kits as well as the expansion of science content from three areas to six; MySci Saturdays (teacher professional development workshops with an opportunity to earn graduate credit from WUSTL); and an evaluation component.

“This is a very exciting opportunity and great timing,” May says. “The Next Generation Science Standards, the new national standards framework, will be released this fall and provide the blueprint for MySci instructional materials going forward.

“The Monsanto grant will help ISP, through our curriculum and other materials, broaden its reach throughout Missouri and across the nation,” May says.