Science Companion and the University of Chicago Collaborate to Advance Science Literacy in Schools Across the Nation

Press Release

Science Companion and the University of Chicago Collaborate to Advance Science Literacy in Schools Across the Nation

UChicago STEM Education and the Polsky Center will work to develop
next generation science curriculum


February 1, 2018 — UChicago STEM Education and the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University of Chicago have accepted a generous donation from Chicago Science Group of Science Companion, a leading science curriculum that provides elementary school children with the opportunity to explore, quantify, and interpret the world through science. UChicago STEM Education and the University of Chicago’s Polsky Center will work together to publish, support, and grow the curriculum.

“Through this donation, the University of Chicago will leverage its resources and expertise to reach more teachers and parents and help them shape the way children are learning and experiencing science both in the classroom and in their everyday lives,” said Belinda Basca, who has led Science Companion since 2016 and will be working closely with the University of Chicago on the transition.

The Science Companion curriculum, developed within Chicago Science Group by a group of prominent educators, is a hands-on learning program that takes advantage of children’s extensive knowledge of – and curiosity about – how things work in the world. The program’s approach to elementary school science education balances discovery-based learning with teacher-directed instruction.

“We are excited to add Science Companion to our portfolio of STEM curriculum and programs,” said Andy Isaacs, UChicago STEM Education’s director. “Our team has deep expertise in developing and field-testing instructional materials and working with teachers, schools, and districts across the country to create best-in-class learning tools for STEM education.”

UChicago STEM Education will provide Science Companion professional development and oversee the development of curriculum enhancements and revisions, including the addition of new topics and lessons to bring the curriculum into complete alignment with the Next Generation Science Standards. “We will apply our extensive knowledge and experience with curriculum development to the expansion of Science Companion’s offerings,” said Debbie Leslie, Senior Curriculum Developer and Education Outreach Director at UChicago STEM Education. “We will also leverage existing relationships and forge new partnerships with schools and districts across the nation to implement Science Companion on a broader scale.”

UChicago STEM Education has a long history of improving STEM education at all levels through research; tool and policy development; and practical work with teachers, schools, and districts. The Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation will work closely with UChicago STEM Education to build an organization that ensures availability of Science Companion products and services at a competitive cost.


“We have a longstanding partnership with the University of Chicago and believe they are in the best position to lead Science Companion into the future,” said Max Bell, founder with Jean Bell of Chicago Science Group. “Both UChicago STEM Education and the Polsky Center have strong reputations and tremendous resources that are closely aligned with fulfilling Science Companion’s mission.”

Current customers and users of Science Companion can continue to utilize the Science Companion website for ongoing support and materials. New lessons and topics are expected to be available by fall 2018, and UChicago STEM Education will provide expanded professional development offerings beginning in spring 2018.


Chicago Science Group: Chicago Science Group was founded by Max and Jean Bell to develop and bring to market science and software products closely linked to the Everyday Mathematics curriculum.

Science Companion: Science Companion is a research-based, hands-on science program for grades PreK-6 developed by the Chicago Science Group.  Evolving over the past 15 years, its core is the idea that children’s wonderings about the world around them should be encouraged and built upon, and that they should learn to use science processes and practices to explore, quantify, and interpret the physical and natural environments. The program, through both print and digital curricula, uses active student inquiry to promote application and thorough understanding of science concepts, science processes and practices, critical-thinking skills, and problem-solving strategies, in alignment with the Next Generation Science Standards. Learn more at

UChicago STEM Education: UChicago STEM Education is a center devoted to research and development that resides within the Physical Sciences Division (PSD) of the University of Chicago. Formerly the Center for Elementary Mathematics and Science Education, UChicago STEM Ed continues the University of Chicago’s long-standing commitment to improving precollege education and aims to support high quality mathematics and science instruction and learning for all students. Through the sharing of knowledge and the creation of useful products and programs, UChicago STEM Education seeks to make a positive difference for STEM Education throughout the nation. Learn more at

Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation: The Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation drives venture creation and technology commercialization at the University of Chicago and within the surrounding South Side community. Among its offerings is the top-ranked university accelerator, the Edward L. Kaplan, ’71, New Venture Challenge, which has launched more than 180 companies worldwide including Grubhub and Braintree; a 34,000 square-foot, multidisciplinary co-working space called the Polsky Exchange; an Innovation Fund that invests in early-stage ventures; and a state-of-the-art Fabrication Lab for prototyping new products. By leveraging the University’s distinctive strengths as an intellectual destination and world-class research institution, the Polsky Center brings together innovators and industry partners to translate research, build sustainable organizations and products, and pave the way for more ideas to have a lasting, positive social and economic impact. Learn more at