Palo Alto, CA - Over the summer months, students around the world have been taking Udacity classes for a chance to win an all expense-paid trip to Silicon Valley, sponsored by Battelle. Sebastian Thrun, Udacity CEO, will take the winners on a tour through Udacity offices and the Stanford Intelligence Labs. Since June, 408 teams have competed with over 2,591 students participating in the challenge and seven teams have been named the winners.
The Top Teams were:
The rules were simple; two team captains, who must be attending secondary school, can form a team. From there, captains recruit teammates, who do not have to be attending secondary school, and accumulate as many completed course units as they can for points. On August 24, Udacity tallied up the number of completed units to determine the winners. The results were impressive: across all of the teams, 14,862 units were completed.
Throughout the summer Udacity saw secondary school students cultivating their own learning communities through the Udacity forums and through social outlets. Some teams set up Facebook groups where they could help each other with problem sets and programming. One team even turned the challenge into a fundraiser for The School Fund by soliciting sponsors for each unit completed.
Feedback from students has been tremendous. As one student stated, summarizing the many emails and posts we received, "Udacity classes are a way to learn things I wouldn't be learning in school." In a survey, 99% of students polled said that they would like to continue taking Udacity courses, even during future vacations!
High schools have taken note as well. A Battelle STEMx network (www.STEMx.us) high school in Ohio – eSTEM Academy of Reynoldsburg – has announced that it has enrolled 41 students in Udacity’s Introduction to Statistics and 49 students in Introduction to Physics this Fall semester for credit. The goal is to help drive high school students to excel in college-level courses.
Both challenge sponsor, Battelle, and challenge partner, the Conrad Foundation, helped promote the competition and are now exploring how to further promote online learning opportunities for high school students going into the Fall. Ultimately, the motivation and achievement shown by high school students taking and completing college-level courses in STEM has been inspirational for all involved.
Udacity's mission is to bring accessible, engaging, and effective higher education to the world. We believe that higher education is a basic human right, and we seek to empower our students to develop their skills in order to advance their careers.
As the world’s largest independent research and development organization, Battelle provides innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing needs through its four global businesses: Laboratory Management; National Security; Health and Life Sciences; and Energy, Environment and Material Sciences. It advances scientific discovery and application by conducting $6.5 billion in global R&D annually through contract research, laboratory management and technology commercialization. Headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, Battelle oversees 22,000 employees in more than 130 locations worldwide, including seven national laboratories which Battelle manages or co-manages for the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and a nuclear energy lab in the United Kingdom.
Battelle also is one of the nation’s leading charitable trusts focusing on societal and economic impact. Its Education & STEM Learning group partners with communities, states, educators, national laboratories and industry partners to address national science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education and workforce challenges.
About Conrad Foundation and Spirit of Innovation Challenge
The Conrad Foundation runs programs that combine education, innovation and entrepreneurship to inspire solutions for achieving global sustainability. Students who participate in programs learn design thinking skills, reap the benefits of multidisciplinary learning experiences, and are introduced to the tools that will help them participate and succeed in the knowledge economy. The Conrad Foundation’s flagship program is the Spirit of Innovation Challenge, an annual competition that challenges teams of high school students to create commercially viable products to address issues of global sustainability for the benefit of humanity.
The Conrad Foundation is based on the rich legacy of the late Apollo 12 astronaut and entrepreneur, Charles “Pete” Conrad. His wife, education activist Nancy Conrad, founded the organization in 2008.