Today we announce the winners of the 2020 NGSS MicroGrant program. Out of the more than 50 compelling submissions, we chose four applicants from each region of the United States. These organizations were selected to receive licenses of Tyto Online, the award-winning science simulation which empowers learners to engage in deeper learning, solving authentic problems as they learn science.

The following four districts were chosen as recipients of the 2020 NGSS MicroGrant.

Profile of Hilldale Public Schools

South Winner in Muskogee, OK

  • 46% Native American, 46% Caucasian, 4% Hispanic, 3% Black/African American, 1% Asian;
  • 54% Eligible for Free & Reduced Lunch;
  • 16% of students identified with disabilities;
  • Tyto Online planned implementation: 3 teachers, 500 students.


What We Loved About Their Application

Described their fantastic NGSS implementation. Science and Engineering Practices are used throughout to guide inquiry as students are given a phenomenon, scenario, or problem to design an investigation and interpret their own data to evaluate it. “Phenomena is used in the program to help students see science happening in their day to day lives. The use of phenomena in our program allows students to make observations, predictions, and inferences. It is also used to spur discussions that allow for students to develop arguments based on the evidence that they observe.”

A vision for how to use Tyto Online with their instruction. “Tyto Online will be used to help students improve and gain practice in science and engineering processes in an interactive format that will increase student motivation. Tyto Online will help students with inquiry skills, analyzing and interpreting data, building models, and designing solutions to problems. Tyto Online will also help teachers reinforce crosscutting concepts throughout our science program. Tyto Online will be used alongside current curriculum throughout the school year to help students explore phenomena in a digital format.”


Profile of CICS Northtown Academy

Midwest Winner in Chicago, IL

  • 48 languages spoken, many refugees and first-generation Americans;
  • 53% Hispanic, 20% White, 16% Asian, 6.5% Black/African American;
  • 79% qualify for free/reduced lunch;
  • Developing their NGSS practices;
  • Tyto Online planned implementation: 7 teachers, 920 students.


What We Loved About Their Application

Love for their students shown through the application. “My students are brilliant dreamers and passionate members of society who want to go out and make change. They are incredibly inspiring, and deserve top-notch learning in the science classroom so that they can understand that each one of us is a scientist every day. These young scientists are innovators, big thinkers, researchers, and activists who are part of our racing quest for knowledge now, and whose hands will build the framework for our future.”

Thoughtful about engaging students where they are, finding relevant experiences. “We want every student to walk out of our school free of any reservations about whether they can “do science,” and equipped with the thinking structures that will serve them lifelong as they observe, test, design solutions for, and communicate about the world around them. We want our kids to picture themselves in science–everyday science, professional science-based careers, and everything in-between. Tyto’s approach describes a focus on depicting varied applications of STEM careers, breaking down stereotypes, and allowing all different types of learning styles to experience success on the platform, and we feel that this kind of diversity in an online program is exactly what our students need.”

Orientation towards social action. “Our school as a whole is oriented toward “social action & arts” and we work hard to help students see where they can use science to interpret their world and change it. We want to empower our extremely diverse student body to gather data, think critically, design solutions for, and communicate their ideas about their world as effectively as possible, and we want to fill in the gaps that interrupted schooling, language divides, uneven socioeconomic access, and urban education have created in our brilliant, talented students’ educational history.”


Profile of Waltersville School

Northeast Winner in Bridgeport, CT

  • 62.3% Hispanic, 32.3% Black/African American, 6.3% White;
  • 22.5% identified as special needs students & 19.2% identified as English Language Learners;
  • Developing their NGSS practices;
  • Tyto Online planned implementation: 3 teachers, 174 students.


What We Loved About Their Application

Respect for their students shown through the application. “Our students face adversity every day in every facet of their lives, yet they come to school eager to learn and engage. The shift to the NGSS in Connecticut has provided more a hands-on, experiential approach that resonated with students. Science is again an exciting subject.”

A focus on how science is relevant for their students’ lives and other learning. “The shift to the NGSS standards has made science relevant to their everyday lives despite their economic situation. Cross-cutting concepts and SEPs have served as a thread that unites all the structured units and has allowed inter-disciplinary connections with Math, Social Studies and English Language Arts. The shift, while difficult, has led to a higher level of student engagement and with that the constructionist learning that is the center of the NGSS.”


Profile of Huntington Middle School

West Winner in San Marino, CA

  • 59.6% Asian, 23.5% White, 9.3% Multiracial, and 6.4% Hispanic;
  • Implementing NGSS for 5 years;
  • Tyto Online planned implementation: 8 teachers, 700 students.


What We Loved About Their Application

A focus on productive struggle and learning with failure. Not everyone realizes it, but failure is a part of learning — especially in science. When we’re developing critical new skills, we must fail and reflect in order to improve. Some educators call this “productive struggle.” The team at Huntington Middle School has embraced the NGSS and encouraging students to have that productive struggle that is such a key part of becoming scientifically literate.

A vision for how to use Tyto Online. They plan on using Tyto Online by including quests across the grade levels at their middle school, and are excited about its potential to be a helpful resource if the school needs to be partially on-line next school year.

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