Maryville University Awarded Grant from LEGO Foundation

Maryville University has been awarded $250,000 from the LEGO Foundation in partnership with the Tufts Center for Engineering Education and Outreach (CEEO).

The grant will accelerate interest in science and math for underserved elementary school students returning to in-person learning after pandemic closures. The need is particularly acute in urban schools that disproportionately experienced student learning loss amid distance learning. Maryville currently partners with six urban school districts across North St. Louis County as well as the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Center in East St. Louis.

“The vast majority of students we serve are students of color and students from underrepresented groups; students who stand to benefit most through reengagement with their teachers in science and math,” said Steve Coxon, PhD, executive director of Maryville’s Center for Access and Achievement. “We will reengage these students to make learning meaningful and culturally relevant to them, while moving their thinking beyond their existing worlds to include greater possibilities.”

Learning through play is part of the ethos of Maryville’s Center for Access and Achievement. With the LEGO Foundation funding, Maryville will create math and science connections to playgrounds, including coaching students to create new or improved playground equipment using building sets and makerspace materials.

Plans also call for creating life-size prototype equipment using ideas from the participating students. Maryville will partner with The Magic House, St. Louis Children’s Museum to bring these prototypes to life. Examples include installing speed sensors on an existing slide or building a seesaw that is adjustable to weight differences.

The goal remains to facilitate student learning while also allowing teachers to explore more invigorating ways to engage students in science and math learning. This draws upon Maryville’s existing STEM Education Certificate that provides hands-on learning experiences to integrate science, technology, engineering and math into classrooms. Maryville now boasts 55 STEM Champion teachers across partner districts who have completed the certificate program.

“We are at a transformational moment for educational systems everywhere. This donation builds on the LEGO Foundation’s core values of finding creative solutions to the difficult challenges, caring for children and the communities we live in, and the power of collaboration to address the challenges, and opportunities, posed by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen, chief executive officer for the LEGO Foundation. “Together we need to make a leap in playful learning, creating a future that promotes inclusive education, lifelong learning opportunities for all children, and where holistic skills and innovation are central.”

About Tufts’ Center for Engineering Education and Outreach
Tufts’ Center for Engineering Education and Outreach is an interdisciplinary center dedicated to creating the next generation of problem solvers, kindergarten through college, through engineering education. Housed within Tufts University’s School of Engineering, Tufts CEEO is home to students, staff, postdoctoral fellows, and faculty from engineering, education, child development, and computer science who collaborate on educational research and educational tool and technology development. Working to bridge the divide between research and practice, Tufts CEEO’s outreach team works to transform research into programs and resources that can be used by stakeholders and provide continuous feedback to researchers. Partnerships with global corporations and foundations help to further disseminate knowledge and tools generated at the center.

About the LEGO Foundation
The LEGO Foundation shares the mission of the LEGO Group: to inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow. The Foundation is dedicated to building a future in which learning through play empowers children to become creative, engaged, lifelong learners. Its work is about re-defining play and re-imagining learning. In collaboration with thought leaders, influencers, educators and parents the LEGO Foundation aims to equip, inspire and activate champions for play.

About Maryville University
Founded in 1872, Maryville University is a comprehensive and nationally ranked private institution with an enrollment of nearly 11,000 students. Maryville offers more than 90 programs at the undergraduate, master’s and doctoral levels to students from 50 states and 58 countries. Among recent graduates, 98 percent are employed or attending graduate school.


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