by Liz Austin

[Updated 8/24/12: Corrected volunteer hours.]

Modeling DNA with pipe cleaners and beads. Learning about Newton’s laws of motion using plastic bottles and straws. Creating electrical circuits with aluminum foil and cardboard.

These are activities thousands of Silicon Valley students will engage in this school year thanks to the efforts of more than 500 NVIDIANs from our Santa Clara, Calif., headquarters and Resource Area for Teaching (RAFT), a local nonprofit.

NVIDIANs assembling learning kit components at last week's Pack to School event.
NVIDIANs assembling learning kit components
at last week’s Pack to School event.

During the second annual “Pack to School” volunteer event last week, employees volunteered more than 660 hours assembling hands-on learning kits for donation to local NVIDIA-partner schools.

In total, nearly 4,500 kits were created, and more than 44,000 Bay Area students will be reached through this effort.

Giving Math and Science Education a Boost

Kids in San Jose elementary schools average only seven minutes of science instruction a week. Many teachers lack the time, training or expertise to adopt hands-on learning approaches on their own. And, with school budgets tighter than ever, teachers in California are spending more of their own money to buy materials for their classes.

This is where RAFT comes in. With a mission to help educators transform a child’s learning experience through hands-on education, RAFT uses surplus materials donated by local companies—from zip ties and foam to CDs and paper clips—to create inexpensive lessons for teachers to use in their classrooms.

Each lesson is designed to equip teachers with a fun, hands-on way to teach kids about math and science, helping turn abstract and complex ideas into activities students can comprehend.

Interested in inspiring a student? Visit RAFT’s site to see how you can help.