As we kick off our 18th school year in Maryland, I wanted to take a moment to share with you how MdBio’s newest mobile lab program is helping in the recovery efforts of hurricane-impacted communities across the state of Texas by engaging students with STEM.
MdBio is very excited to share that we will be operating a third mobile lab program for the Fall 2018 semester in communities that are still struggling to return to normal. The Learning Undefeated project began for MdBio one year ago as a simple response to the question, “How Can We Help?”
Having seen the devastation from Hurricane Harvey on the evening news, our leadership team felt strongly that a mobile lab was a quick and effective way to help students get back on their feet after homes and schools were destroyed. Working quickly, and with the support of a group of our longstanding Maryland-based funders, we donated our staff time to send the MdBioLab and our staff to Texas for two weeks.
What happened next was unexpected: the schools demanded that we stay. Through a partnership with the Rebuild Texas Fund we’ve been able to keep MdBioLab in Texas ever since, and it will remain through December.
Back home in Maryland, it’s hard to imagine the sort of devastation and emotional trauma that these students have experienced, and are still living with every day. Since November, MdBio has served nearly 4,500 students across Texas ranging from kindergarten through grade 12. By the end of the year, we expect this number to surpass 10,000 students in 10 school districts that were across Hurricane Harvey’s path.
Our Learning Undefeated program has received state and national attention, including visits from local media, elected officials, and business leaders. Just last month, our team welcomed First Lady of Texas Cecilia Abbott and Susan Dell, founder and co-chair of the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, onboard MdBioLab for a show-and-tell featuring student ambassadors from Wharton Junior High School. The students were incredibly proud to show off their new skills in micropipetting, gel electrophoresis, and virtual reality. Our visitors were moved by the enthusiasm and graciousness of our student ambassadors.
This program has been transformative both for our staff and our organization. For our team, the personal impact of delivering a program in a community where schools remain closed even a year later has been intensely moving. We’ve seen the spark return to students’ eyes when they get to experience science in a hands-on environment – many of the students we’ve seen have never once set foot inside a science lab. Our team members have returned from working in these Texas communities with a renewed sense of purpose and a real love for their jobs.
The success of the Learning Undefeated program has also allowed us to bring two new jobs to the region, including hiring a local program manager who is a native of Wharton, TX and a graduate of the Wharton Independent School District. Through this work, students in that community are seeing first-hand how transformative jobs in STEM can be.
Best wishes for this school year –