RIT Wins Motorola Foundation Grant to Hold Science Workshops for Families

Free workshops to begin in September

Rare is the day when kids are encouraged to throw eggs. Rarer, still, is the challenge to toss an egg 20 feet without cracking its shell. But in the name of science, almost anything goes, and hidden behind the conundrum is a blend of physics, creativity and fun.

Making an “egg lander” is one activity planned in a series of free workshops that Rochester Institute of Technology will hold this school year. The workshops are designed to get children, eight to 13 years old, and their parents thinking like scientists.

Supported by a $30,700 grant from the Motorola Foundation’s Innovation Generation program, “Learning Science through Innovation and Creativity: Workshops for Families” will explore “The Changing Earth,” “Beneath the Oceans” and “Living in Space.” The first set of workshops—The Changing Earth—will be held 6-8 p.m. Sept. 10, Oct. 1, Oct. 22 and Nov. 12 on the RIT campus.

“The focus behind the Motorola grant is that we’re trying to develop more innovative and creative people,” says Jacob Noel-Storr, associate scientist in RIT’s Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science and workshop director. “We’re trying to show connections between science and innovation and creativity, and also to show that scientists use those skills.”

Noel-Storr and his assistant Greg Wyllie, a second-year biotechnology and honors student at RIT, have developed a curriculum exploring each of the three themes from four different scientific perspectives. The 12-workshop series devotes a separate session per topic to physics, chemistry, biology and earth science. An aspect of each theme will be central to the challenges and hands-on activities in the various workshops. All the projects are designed to be scientifically measurable.

For instance the workshops corresponding to the theme “Living in Space” will use the egg-lander experiment to highlight physics concepts. The chemistry component will have students and their parents creating a Mars-like surface. The biological aspect of Living in Space will explore the conditions a planet needs to support basic life forms. And the earth science workshop will focus on comets like the one that recently hit Jupiter.

“We’ll do activities where the kids learn something the parents didn’t know before and they have to then teach it back to their parents,” says Noel-Storr. “We also teach the parents to understand how to work with their kids even when they don’t know the answers. We encourage them to go with their kid and find out, teaching them that it’s OK not to know everything.”

For more information, or to register, contact Jacob Noel-Storr at insight@cis.rit.edu.

To learn more about the Motorola Foundation’s Innovation Generation grants,visit www.motorola.com/giving.


Rochester Institute of Technology is internationally recognized for academic leadership in computing, engineering, imaging technology, and fine and applied arts, in addition to unparalleled support services for students with hearing loss. Nearly 16,450 full- and part-time students are enrolled in more than 200 career-oriented and professional programs at RIT, and its cooperative education program is one of the oldest and largest in the nation.

For two decades, U.S. News & World Report has ranked RIT among the nation’s leading comprehensive universities. RIT is featured in The Princeton Review’s 2009 edition of The Best 368 Colleges and in Barron’s Best Buys in Education. The Chronicle of Higher Education recognizes RIT as a “Great College to Work For.”


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