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Brilliant Scientists of Tomorrow

dedicated to increasing science literacy rates and access to education for everyone

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Alternative Science Education Nonprofit Websites


Iridescent is a nonprofit organization dedicated to advocating for and promoting science, engineering, and technology education. They train engineers, scientists, and parents, and equip them with the teaching skills that they can use to help deliver STEM education to underprivileged and underserved girls, children, and their families. You can also find Iridescent on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, and YouTube.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science

Founded in 1848, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is “an international nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing science for the benefit of all people”. One of its primary goals is to promote and defend the integrity of science and its use in society, and to foster education in science and technology for people from all walks of life. The AAAS is also on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and YouTube.

Smithsonian Science Education Center

The Smithsonian Science Education Center is dedicated to formal K-12 science education reform – they seek to improve the learning and teaching of science for all students. Learn about their methods, find out more about the LASER model, and know what you need to get started by visiting the website. You can also find the SSEC on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Linkedin, Google+, YouTube, and Vimeo.

ASSET STEM Education

ASSET – Achieving Student Success through Excellence in Teaching – is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving education and STEM fluency nationwide. They provide training, materials, and consulting services for professional educators at all levels. You can also find them on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, and on YouTube.


Code.org is a nonprofit dedicated to promoting and expanding access to computer science for all students, with particular attention given to women and underrepresented students of color. Learn how to code, find resources to improve your teaching methods, and find out more about Code.org's advocacies and accomplishments on the website. You can also connect with them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and Linkedin.


What high performing countries have to teach us about teacher training

The Hechinger Report's Emmanuel Felton writes about which countries the under-performing American education system should look to and learn from as it looks to reform and improve.

When it comes to STEM education, we still have a long way to go

Read Karen Horting's article on the recent developments in the promotion of and increased access to STEM in education and what still needs to be done.

The Virtual Classroom Coach

Slate's Chris Berdik writes about a novel new approach to how teachers can improve their skills and abilities using modern-day technologies and new professional development methods that would normally not be easily accessible for today's teachers.

Five Macro Trends That Arts Organizations Need to Watch

Robert L. Lynch writes about five important, emerging issues that nonprofit organizations and educational institutions need to pay attention to.

Private groups step in to show teachers how to use technology in the classroom

Despite the increasing availability of education apps, tools, and services and the ubiquity of access to mobile computing for students, teachers are struggling to adapt and take advantage of these developments in how they teach. Meghan E. Murphy writes about how some collectives are looking to address this issue.

Three Brilliant Scientists Who Overcame Their Early Challenges in Life To Change The World

Very few would argue against education – in both formal and practical forms – being a key component of finding success in life. It's hard to find anyone in the world who has found a great amount of success and has achieved much who does not value education in some way, shape, or form. But what if your circumstances in life prevent you from affording or getting access to it? What then?

Well, as they say, where there's a will, there's a way – here are three of some of the most brilliant scientists in history who fought their way from poverty and other early challenges in life to leave a lasting impact on the world as we know it today.

Mary Anning (1799 – 1847)

Mary Anning, English fossil collector, dealer, and paleontologist, was born in Lyme Regis, Dorset, England, to Richard Anning and Mary Moore, the former being a cabinetmaker who had to supplement his income by mining for fossils near the town's coast and selling what he found to tourists. Her family was not well off, and several of her siblings died due to illness or accidents. Mary herself almost died when she was just a little over a year old, in an incident in August 1800, where she was being held by a neighbor while under a tree with two other women: lightning struck and felled the tree, killing all three women; the injured infant was rushed home and somehow was revived, with a local doctor remarking that her recovery was nothing short of “miraculous”. In addition to all of these, Mary had an extremely limited education, and only learned to read and write at a Sunday School.

A painting of Mary Anning, Paleontologist

As Mary took over the family business of collecting fossils and dealing them, her reputation in the scientific community grew. While her education was very limited, she dedicated herself to reading as much scientific literature as she could obtain, at times hand-copying them – expertly, according to another paleontologist – for personal preservation. She would also dissect modern animals in order to gain a better understanding of the fossils she worked with.

Among her major discoveries were: unearthing ichthyosaur skeletons, including discovering the first ichthyosaur skeleton to come to the attention of the scientific community of London; being the first to unearth a [partial] skeleton of what would eventually be named the Plesiosaurus; she was also the first to discover a partial skeleton of what would come to be known as the pterosaur – just to name three of some of Mary Anning's discoveries. Her legacy continues to this day, as the modern scientific community now gives her more of the credit and acclaim she deserves than was given her while she was still alive.

Michael Faraday (1791 – 1867)

Michael Faraday is one of the most influential scientists in the history of the world – he was admired by many, including Albert Einstein, and even led physicist Ernest Rutherford to state: “"When we consider the magnitude and extent of his discoveries and their influence on the progress of science and of industry, there is no honour too great to pay to the memory of Faraday, one of the greatest scientific discoverers of all time". So it might surprise you to know that Faraday didn't get much in the way of formal education, and he that wasn't very good at math.

A Portrait of Michael Faraday

Being born to a poor family, Faraday only received a very basic education, and he had to educate himself by reading as many books as he could get his hands on. He eventually managed to find employment as an assistant to Sir Humphry Davy at the Royal Institution. The University of Oxford granted Faraday an honorary Doctor of Civil Law degree in 1832, and was elected as a foreign member to several academy or arts and sciences: in 1838, to the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences; in 1844, to the French Academy of Sciences; and in 1849, to what later became known as the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Michael Faraday's accomplishments and his legacy have had a profound impact on the world of science then, and they continue to do so today. Among his many achievements include the discovery of many chemical compounds and substances including benzene, inventing an early form of the Bunsen Burner, along with other significant works in the field of chemistry. Many of his accomplishments came in the fields of electricity and magnetism: Faraday invented the first electric motor, paving the way for modern electromagnetic technology, and he discovered electromagnetic induction, which is instrumental in many modern affordances like induction cookers, guitar pickups, graphics tablets, and electric power generators. This is just the tip of the iceberg for Michael Faraday, who – from humble beginnings – willed his way toward educating himself and eventually making a lasting impact on every one of us alive today.

James West (b. 1931)

Dr. James Edward Maceo West, American inventor and acoustician, is a modern-day example of someone who rose beyond his circumstances and challenges early on in his life to make a difference in the world today. Born during an era when discrimination and segregation was the norm which made things doubly hard for people of color, James West had a curious mind as a child and developed an interest in the science of electricity – the latter being mostly thanks to an accident when he was almost electrocuted.

A Photo Dr. James West, Inventor of the Electret Microphone

He wanted to pursue a career in electronics despite his parent's warnings and wishes (primarily concerns over limited employment opportunities for African Americans at the time); he entered college as a premed student, but after his return from his service in the Korean war, he transferred to Temple University and switched his major to solid state physics, which led to his losing his family's financial support. He made ends meet by interning in the Acoustics Research Department at Bell Laboratories, where he eventually took up a full-time position as an acoustical scientist.

Dr. West's accomplishments are many, but perhaps his most significant achievement is developing – in conjunction with fellow scientist Gerhard M. Sessler – the electret microphone in 1962. Their invention became the industry standard, and nearly 90% of all microphones produced today – including those used in telephones, camcorders, baby monitors, and hearing aids – use their technology. His acclaimed work has led to his being awarded the National Medal of Technology and Innovation, and has led to his induction to the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

These are just three of the many examples and stories of people who overcame the odds and humble beginnings and went on to change, not just their lives, but those of everyone around them and make their mark on history. But perhaps just as important, they show that the hand you've been dealt does not necessarily mean that you'll keep being dealt the same circumstances in life – it's all in how you play the game.

What about you? Who inspires you to go out there and make something matter no matter what?

About the Author: Andre Salvatierra is a freelance writer who loves culture, technology, and well-designed things and great experiences. You can find him on Medium and Twitter.

Guides, References, & Resources

Nonprofit Sector – Research Guides at Harvard Library

Online Reference Sources for Grants

HG.org's Guide to Charitable Organization Law

The UNC's guide to identifying funding opportunities for Nonprofit Organizations

Technical Assistance: Guide to Private/nonprofit programs

Other Interesting Links

Find job opportunities with science and education nonprofit organizations

GuideStar's Directory of Charities and Nonprofit Organizations

The ALA's list of Organizations Serving Children and Youth

Center for Science Teaching & Learning

The Center for Nonprofit Excellence