Fund for the City of New York and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Reward City Teachers

You'd think it would be a lot easier to sit through chemistry class if the experiments involved pancakes and M&Ms. For students in David Griffin's chemistry classes at the Collegiate Institute for Math and Science, boring classes are a thing of the past. Imaginative and interactive lessons have struck a chord with low-income and minority students who would may have otherwise never taken a chemistry class. Not surprisingly, Griffin's efforts haven’t gone unnoticed. David Griffin is one of seven teacher recipients of the annual Sloan Awards for Excellence in Teaching Science and Mathematics in New York City Public High Schools.

The annual Sloan Awards reward New York City public high school teachers for creative tactics that inspire underprivileged students to pursue careers in math and science. Each of the seven teacher awardees received between $5,000 to $7,500 and each of their respective schools received an additional $2,500 to strengthen math and science programs. The Fund for the City of New York, along the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, has been doling out these grant funds since 2009. (Read Sloan Foundation STEM education program director, Elizabeth Boylan's IP profile).

Griffin isn't your average science teacher and the Collegiate Institute isn't your average school. Griffin has been known to serve pancakes to illustrate chemical and physical change, compare the tastes of lemon and chocolate to demonstrate the effects of chemical composition on taste, and make M&Ms explode to show the power of oxidation. But not all of Griffin's experiments revolve around food. Despite criticism about lower test score averages, he ditched the AP Chemistry pre-requisites so that anyone could take his class. The 680-student Collegiate Institute gives admission priority to students from the Bronx and requires extended-day, community service, and Saturday program participation. (See Grants for K-12 Education).

Although the awards are named after Sloan, the Fund for the City of New York handles the bulk of the grantmaking duties. The Sloan Foundation is in the business of the funding research studies of advanced professional scientists and mathematicians. Therefore, the Fund manages the annual awards as one of its core programs, alongside public service awards and technology consulting. Although you can't directly apply for a Sloan award, it's incredibly simple to nominate someone else for one. Anyone can nominate a New York City public high school teacher to receive the award, and the winners are selected by an independent panel of scientists, mathematicians, and educators. Questions about the Sloan Awards can be directed towards President Mary McCormick at mmccormick@fcny.org. (Read Mary McCormick's IP profile).