Our Founder: Kevin Keller – Arizona State University Chinese Major

Kevin is a Chinese major and recent graduate of the Barrett Honors College at Arizona State University. He started thinking seriously about science education in 2009, when he traveled to China for a year through the Boren Scholarship program and worked part-time as an English teacher. One day a group of his 8th-grade students asked for help on a science assignment. He looked down to find a page full of electrical diagrams and calculus formulas — this wasn’t the middle school science he remembered!
Arriving back in the US, Kevin was inspired to find a way to improve science education in American schools. He founded Science Detectives with two goals in mind: first, to provide fun and stimulating supplementary science education for elementary school students, and second, to provide university students with a platform to better understand and more thoughtfully address the challenges faced by our education system. See: Why Science Detectives?
Kevin is currently working as a researcher at the Children’s Legal Aid and Research Center in Beijing, China.

Science Detectives: Our Growth

Science Detectives launched its first class at Rover Elementary School in September, 2010. As a grassroots organization, we started with a lesson about soil. The mystery was “Where does dirt come from?”, and together with fifteen first and second graders we explored the surprisingly engrossing world of earthworm digestive systems. The students loved it. We suspect that the earthworms enjoyed the attention, too.

We expanded to our second school, Broadmor Elementary, in January 2011. We brought in a new cohort of ASU instructors, and they brought with them creative new lesson plans. We reenacted Galileo’s gravity experiments at the Leaning Tower of Pisa, extracted the iron from breakfast cereal and investigated the science behind baking bread. We ended the semester with a field trip to the Desert Botanical Gardens.

In March 2011 we were named one the winners of the ASU Innovation Challenge, a university-sponsored competition for entrepreneurial ventures. In January 2012 we introduced our third program, this one at Hudson Elementary School. In September 2012 we expanded to a district outside the Tempe School district, the Kyrene school district, with our program at Cielo. We are currently teaching 9 classes a week at 5 different elementary schools across the Tempe and Kyrene School Districts. Over the past three years we have worked with over 400 elementary school students and 60 ASU undergraduates.  For more information, visit our profiles in the Arizona Republic and the State Press.