Detroit Country Day Chemistry Teachers Earns $150K Grant


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Chemistry teacher Julia Winter works with students at Detroit Country Day School Upper School.

For her work teaching complex organic chemistry concepts to students through an innovative mobile app game, Detroit Country Day School Upper School teacher Julia Winter has earned a $150,000 grant for Small Business Innovative Research grant from the National Science Foundation.

Winter was recognize for her work creating and developing Chairs!, a mobile app that tackles the complex concepts behind organic chemistry in an entertaining and engaging digital game. Chairs! Is a visual pattern puzzle game designed to help students learn the complex subject matter of conformational isomers and cyclohexane chairs.

Launched through Winter’s company Alchemie, the results have so far been impressive — more than 90 percent of Winter’s students improved or earned a perfect score on a quiz after playing the came throughout a class period.

“Each one of Julia’s recent awards is in and of itself a significant achievement,” says Glen Shilling, headmaster of the school. “To have an individual earn three national recognitions at once is truly unique and illustrates the incredible drive, creativity and educational impact that we have come to expect from Julia.”

NSF’s Small Business Technology Transfer program gives startups and small businesses a boost to undertake cutting-edge, high-quality scientific research and development and take their tech ideas to market. Winter’s Phase I grant will play a transformative role in taking Chairs! to a broader audience and developing a suite of mobile games for organic chemistry, which span the entire curriculum.

Presented by EdSurge, an education technology focused resource site, and Digital Promise, a nonprofit advancing learning opportunities, the Digital Innovation in Learning Awards showcase excellence and innovation in education technology among educators, administrators, and organizations. This is only the second year the awards have been offered.

The James Bryant Conant Award from the American Chemical Society is a $5,000 award designed to recognize, encourage, and stimulate outstanding teachers of high school chemistry across the nation. Additionally, Winter is able to build an award symposium this spring, in which she will invite academic chemists to present at the American Chemical Society meeting in March 2016.

 “I am honored and awed by this influx of recognition," Winter says. "Each of these awards supports individuals and organizations dedicated to improving our future through innovation, learning and technology.”

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