Disaster Recovery Program to Serve More than 6,000 Students in Southwestern Puerto Rico
Gaithersburg, MD – March 11, 2020 – Learning Undefeated, a nonprofit organization that provides life-changing STEM experiences for under-resourced communities, announced today that for the first time it will provide mobile STEM lab resources outside the continental United States.
Working in partnership with the Puerto Rico Science, Technology & Research Trust, Learning Undefeated’s MdBioLab departs Maryland today to travel over land and sea to southwestern Puerto Rico, where it will serve more than 6,000 students in communities that were damaged by earthquakes earlier this year. The 10-week engagement will provide temporary laboratory space along with specialized scientific equipment and curriculum to middle and high schools through the end of the 2019-2020 school year.
MdBioLab, the flagship of Learning Undefeated’s mobile disaster recovery education program, is a 45-foot, self-contained science classroom on wheels. Housed in a tractor trailer with its own power and water supply, MdBioLab can accommodate classes of up to 32 students. In Puerto Rico, the lab will begin its journey in Ponce, where 10 schools have been consolidated into a single site. The lab will then move west to serve students from several Puerto Rico communities, including Guánica, Guayanilla, Peñuelas and Yauco.
“STEM education suffers more than other subjects following a disaster because vital laboratory space and equipment are not accessible when schools are damaged. Our disaster recovery education program allows students to regain a sense of normalcy in their school day and begin the journey to recovery,” said Learning Undefeated CEO Brian Gaines. “We are honored to have the opportunity to extend this program outside the continental U.S. in partnership with the Puerto Rico Science, Technology & Research Trust.”
“As a result of the earthquakes, the lives of more than 12,000 students and their teachers have been impacted,” said Jorge Valentine, STEM Education Program Manager at the Puerto Rico Science, Technology & Research Trust. “After hearing about Learning Undefeated’s disaster relief work, we reached out to see if they would be able to assist in our efforts. We are thankful for and excited about the gracious support and donation of time and resources that Learning Undefeated has committed to help students in Puerto Rico.”
On January 7, a 6.4-magnitude earthquake centered in southwest Puerto Rico destroyed homes, buildings and schools. Since that time, dozens of aftershocks continue to rattle impacted communities day in, day out.
Learning Undefeated operates the nation’s only disaster recovery STEM education program, which was developed in response to Hurricane Harvey in 2017. Since then, the organization has provided mobile STEM education resources to more than 25,000 students in disaster-impacted communities. Learning Undefeated’s disaster recovery education program emphasizes engaging, hands-on STEM learning experiences designed to help students re-engage with school during a time of incredible stress and uncertainty.
On March 9, the MdBioLab will leave Rockville, Md., to travel by road to Jacksonville, Fla., where it will be loaded onto a cargo ship and transported to Puerto Rico. The lab is expected to begin serving students in Ponce on April 6.
Learning Undefeated is donating staff time to travel to Puerto Rico to train local teachers on how to use the mobile lab and lead the various STEM activities onboard. Among the lessons on board will be the Micropipette Challenge, DNA Extraction and the Mystery of the Crooked Cell.
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 Science, Technology and Research Trust:
The Science, Technology and Research Trust, as described in Public Law 214, is a non-profit organization created in 2004 to boost the participation and creation of jobs on the Island in the global knowledge economy by promoting investment and financing of research and development of science and technology. By investing in the research and commercialization of technology, the Trust serves as a catalyst for job creation and retention of highly qualified and often bilingual residents of the Island. The Trust is also responsible for Puerto Rico’s public policy for science, technology, research and development. For more information: www.prsciencetrust.org.