Today, the Center for American Progress and the Thomas B. Fordham Institute announced the selection of ten finalists in its joint “Moonshot for Kids” contest. The competition is part of a yearlong project to gather ideas for new education research and development investments. The goal is to generate new, evidence-backed proposals to substantially improve outcomes that have stagnated in America as other countries have realized significant gains among their own youth. The list of finalists and their ideas include:
Reducing the number of fourth graders reading below the Basic level, an extremely modest indicator of literacy:
- Tom Neumark: The design and evaluation of reading curriculum and aligned professional development that packages scientifically based methods in an actionable format for teachers.
- Anna Utgoff, Bibliomatic: Computerized games with speech-recognition technology to identify mistakes students make while reading out loud and provide personalized feedback to improve reading skills.
- Ginger Young, Book Harvest: Home visits three times a year to all Medicaid-eligible families with newborns to provide books, language rich curriculum, and parent-focused literacy training that gets kids kindergarten ready.
Doubling the amount of high-quality feedback middle school students receive:
- Kareem Farah, The Modern Classrooms Project: A professional development framework to help teachers restructure their instructional time using videos, allowing them to provide more feedback one on one with every student, every day.
Doubling the number of effective eighth-grade writers:
- Michelle Brown, CommonLit: A free and open access online reading curriculum that helps teachers foster adolescent literacy not only in English classes but also social studies, humanities, and STEM classes.
- Steve Shapiro, FineTune: An artificial intelligence application that guides students through the essay writing process with as much accuracy and personalization as a one on one interaction with their teacher.
Universal college or career counseling for all students before ninth grade:
- Jayda Batchelder, Education Opens Doors: A college and career knowledge curriculum embedded directly into classrooms that could increase average time on college guidance from thirty-five minutes over four years to 900 minutes in just one year.
- Anna Vallee, Harvard Graduate School of Education: A college admissions dating app that matches high school students with colleges based on compatibility (e.g., geography, GPA, SAT scores, college size, college type, etc.) and calculates their chances of admission.
Doubling the number of young women majoring in STEM fields:
- Ryan Torbey, University of Texas at Austin: A National Robot Library that would loan physical computing devices to teachers at no cost and provide teachers with curricula and training focused on engaging female students.
- Lindsey Tropf, Immersed Games: Video games that engage students in solving real-world problems such as testing a broken ecosystem and proposing engineering solutions to fix it or using genetics to solve a simulated hunger crisis.
The winner of the Moonshot for Kids competition will be named at an event this November, where these ten finalists will pitch their ideas to a panel of judges at a live Shark Tank-like event. The winner will win a $10,000 grand prize—with all finalists taking home a $1,000 prize. More information about the event will be announced in the coming weeks.
For more information about the contest, please contact Colin Seeberger at [email protected] or 202-741-6292.