Young Sheldon cast encouraging STEM learning in public schools

TOMBALL, Tex. (KBTX) - There's been an effort in recent years to find fun ways to get children interested in learning some challenging subjects - science, technology, engineering and math.

It can get expensive and difficult for districts trying to find the most efficient use of their budget. That's why Monday was extra special for some Texas schools who received help from the cast of a popular CBS show.

During a special presentation at Tomball High School, it felt like the students were gearing up for a big athletic competition. Instead, they were loudly rooting for the cast of Young Sheldon.

It wasn't just the star power they were cheering. It was the reason for the cast’s visit that had them excited. The actors were giving grants to give their schools STEM programs a financial boost.

"I actually just told someone I wanted to do this five times today,” said Reagan Revord, who plays Missy Cooper on Young Sheldon.

The Young Sheldon STEM Initiative was inspired by the hit comedy series. The goal is to get kids excited about learning science, technology, engineering and math.

"They're really good and will help you a lot later in life. Even though you might not like them now, I think as you get older you’re going to regret that you didn’t study them as much, so you should,” said Iain Armitage, who plays Young Sheldon.

It's a lesson Patrick Maguire shares with his robotics students and their parents.

"There is so much money in this. There are so many people out there watching these kids and looking for talent and everything else. I mean, if you want to be set up, have a good life, a decent retirement and all that stuff, this is a good path to be on,” said Patrick Maguire, Robotics coach at Tomball High School.

He says the grant money will help them start their robotics programs earlier this school year since they won’t have to fundraise. For parents and kids at home, he says you can start small with things like Legos and suggests to always keep it fun.

"A lot of times it's super hard. You're trying to figure out wiring. You're trying to figure out code. It can be really difficult and frustrating, but at the same time, once you get it, it's so rewarding,” said Maguire.

The following is a press release about the initiative.

Continuing its commitment to fund innovative efforts in STEM education, The Chuck Lorre Family Foundation (TCLFF) today announced the creation of a new grant program — THE YOUNG SHELDON STEM INITIATIVE — inspired by the hit comedy series Young Sheldon. The program was created to foster excitement for learning in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), specifically in support of our nation’s public schools, teachers and students. Young Sheldon executive producer/TCLFF founder Chuck Lorre enrolled fellow Young Sheldon executive producers Steven Molaro and Jim Parsons, Warner Bros. Television Group and CBS to co-fund two-year educational grants totaling more than $600,000.00 which will be awarded to 19 select elementary, middle and high schools in Southern California, where Young Sheldon is primarily produced, and East Texas, where the show is set.

Young Sheldon executive producer/The Big Bang Theory star Jim Parsons attended three of the selected East Texas schools. And, Young Sheldon co-star Montana Jordan, who plays Sheldon’s brother Georgie, attended one of the Texas schools, where his mother also taught first grade.

Chuck Lorre said, “To those of us involved in making it, Young Sheldon is more than a television series. At its heart, it’s a story about potential. When the education of a child is supported, there is no limit to what that child might eventually achieve. We hope that in some small way, this program gives these public schools more STEM educational tools in the classroom for teachers to nurture and ignite the curiosity of students who will ultimately become our future leaders and scholars.”

Each of the 19 public school grant recipients will be acknowledged as a YOUNG SHELDON STEM INITIATIVE Grant Recipient and will receive a two-year grant from TCLFF which is specifically to support each school’s STEM teachers and STEM educational programs within their existing in-class curriculum and/or after-school programs. In addition to the direct grant funding to each school, the YOUNG SHELDON STEM INITIATIVE will also fully fund all costs for an annual experiential opportunity for students and teachers in and outside the classroom. Each school will be eligible to submit for continuation grants at the end of the two-year period.

In Texas, students and teachers at each school will attend annual customized educational trips to Space Center Houston, a leading science and space exploration learning center.

In California, students and teachers from each school will visit NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena. Additionally, teachers in both states will have access to JPL and NASA instructional materials (www.jpl.nasa.gov).

Each school will receive a certificate and an individualized “Congratulations” video message from the Young Sheldon cast. Cast members will be supporting the STEM INIATIVE by spreading the word across their social media channels. To view or embed the video, click here: https://youtu.be/8RUgZe89E98. To download the video, click here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/52xhwua9tqdfbvd/STEM_Initiative_Grant_Recipient_083118.mov?dl=0

Items identified by the teachers to be funded include robotics kits, computers, iPads, Vernier probeware, lab tables, 3-D printers, LEGO Mindstorm educational kits, general lab equipment, curriculum development and teacher training.

Each school can apply for limited supplemental grants at the end of each year to fund school science and robotics competitions.

The initiative will launch to coincide with the beginning of the 2018–19 academic school year.

More than 22,000 students total attend the 19 schools, seven of which are Title I schools. Of the more than 22,000 students, 22% qualify for free and reduced lunches.

The initial 19 institutions selected to be YOUNG SHELDON STEM INITIATIVE grant recipients are:

BURBANK (CALIF.) UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT (8)
Burbank High School (grades 9–12)
John Burroughs High School (9–12)
Monterey High School (10–12)
Burbank Community Day School (8–12)
Independent Learning Academy (7–12)
Luther Burbank Middle School (6–8)
David Starr Jordan Middle School (6–8)
John Muir Middle School (6–8)

LOS ANGELES UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT (1)
Van Nuys High School (9–12); Young Sheldon films regularly at this school

KLEIN (TEXAS) INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT (3)
Klein Oak High School (9–12); Jim Parsons attended this school
Strack Intermediate School (6–8); Jim Parsons attended this school
Haude Elementary School (K–5); Jim Parsons attended this school

TOMBALL (TEXAS) INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT (5)
Tomball High School (9–12)
Tomball Memorial High School (9–12)
Creekside Park Junior High School (6–8)
Tomball Junior High School (7–8)
Willow Wood Junior High School (7–8)

ORE CITY (TEXAS) INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT (2)
Ore City Elementary School; Montana Jordan attended this school and his mom taught first grade here for 19 years
Ore City Middle School; Montana Jordan attended this school

This public school STEM initiative follows The Chuck Lorre Family Foundation’s collaborative establishment of The Big Bang Theory Scholarship Endowment at UCLA in 2015. This unprecedented endowment and scholarship program was designed to assist undergraduate students in need of financial aid who are pursuing their higher education in STEM fields. The Big Bang Theory UCLA scholarship launched with a $4 million endowment, which included partner donations from the TBBT cast, producers, crew, CBS, Warner Bros. Television. The program supported an inaugural class of 20 TBBT/UCLA scholars for the 2015–16 academic year, adding five scholars each succeeding academic year — in perpetuity. To date, The Big Bang Theory endowment at UCLA has supported 35 TBBT/UCLA scholars. Each year, the scholars come to the set to be honored by the cast and crew, and the scholars have created an official UCLA on-campus club which provides mentorship and weekly study groups.