The California Academy of Sciences has announced a $9 million gift from Arthur and Toni Rembe Rock in support of a program that provides engaging field trip experiences for elementary school students in San Francisco.
The gift will be added to an endowment the couple created in 2008 to fund trips to the academy's museum for all fourth- and fifth-grade students in the city's public, private, parochial, and independent schools, enabling the academy to expand the program to all K-5 students in the city. The Rock Program provides transportation to and from the museum, on-site science lessons led by the academy's educators, educational take-home materials — in multiple languages, including Cantonese, Mandarin, and Spanish — and free teacher workshops, as well as free unlimited access for students during the school year and a one-time visit for their families. The expansion will begin with up to thirty second- and third-grade classrooms during the 2018-19 school year, with a new grade to be added each year; when fully implemented in 2022, the program will serve twenty-eight thousand students annually.
"Year after year, there's no higher reward as an educator than to watch young minds blossom during a field trip to the academy," said Elizabeth C. Babcock, the academy's Roberts-Wilson Dean of Education and chief public engagement officer. "Children are natural scientists — asking questions, exploring their surroundings, and letting their curiosity lead. By introducing children to scientific thinking at an early age, [we help them] build critical science and environmental literacy skills during their most formative years."
"Investing in early STEM education has a lasting impact not only on the lives of students, but also on our environment, economy, and society," said Arthur Rock, a Silicon Valley venture capitalist and founder of the Rock Foundation. "By supporting early science education and leveling the playing field for every student in San Francisco, we're ensuring that all students can benefit from the transformative experience of an Academy field trip. We're also creating a model partnership between a cultural organization and local schools that we hope will inspire similar collaborations in cities across the country."