Learning Undefeated, a nonprofit organization that provides life-changing STEM experiences for under-resourced communities, announced 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 will take its MdBioLab to southwestern Puerto Rico, where it will serve more than 6,000 students in communities that were damaged by earthquakes earlier this year.
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.
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, the company said.
“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’re honored to have the opportunity to extend this program outside the continental U.S. in partnership with the Puerto Rico Science, Technology & Research Trust,” he said.
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.
“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’re 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,” Valentine said.
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.
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.
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.”