Education Rainbow Challenge Getting Students Excited About Math and Science

Semi-annual event designed to expose non-G/T students to fun activities, hands-on chemistry experiments

November 20, 2012

Before all of the ingredients were mixed together, they didn’t seem very impressive. But once the cornstarch, water, and food coloring were combined, they suddenly turned into a flexible goo that closely resembled Silly Putty, which thrilled the children making it at the 27th Education Rainbow Challenge (ERC).

This is precisely this kind of excitement that the ERC was designed to generate. The semi-annual event, which takes place every fall and spring, involves both individual and team math contests, as well as hands-on chemistry experiments. It was held earlier this month at Black Middle School, and more than 500 students from 29 elementary campuses participated. The competition was created to improve the math and science skills of at-risk students in grades 3 through 8 who are not enrolled in gifted and talented programs.

The top students in each grade took home medals and $100 cash prizes. Jare Cortez (Braeburn ES) was the winner in grade 5, while Do Varce (C. Martinez ES) and Sophie Maynard (Crockett ES) tied for first in grade 3 and Carlos Hernandez (Braeburn ES) and Laura Gutierrez (Daily ES) tied for first in grade 4.

The top teams were:

  • Grade 3: Burnett ES, Emerson ES, and Foster ES
  • Grade 4: Braeburn ES, Windsor Village ES, and Anderson ES
  • Grade 5: R. P. Harris ES, Pilgrim Academy, and Fields ES

“Every year, I say I’m not going to cry, but when you see students, teachers, and parents jumping up and down, shouting, crying, and dancing once the winners are announced at the awards ceremony, it reminds me why I chose a career in education,” said Dana Enriquez-Vontoure, curriculum manager of elementary mathematics. “I don’t think Cecil Fong and the Education Rainbow Challenge have any idea of the magnitude this event has on the lives of children, their families, and all the educators involved.”

“The students were so excited about participating,” added Shawna Punch, principal of R.P. Harris Elementary School. “They were so nervous when it was time for the awards to be given out. There was nail-biting, finger-crossing, rocking in the seats, etc. But the looks on their faces when they won was priceless. Some of them even wore their medals to school on Monday. That display of pride was wonderful to witness.”

ERC sponsors include American Chemical Society, Center Point Energy, Deloitte, ExxonMobil, Hess Energy, Lithcon Companies, Schlumberger, Shell, National Association of Asian American Professionals, San Jacinto College, Rice University, Texas Southern University, University of Houston, and the University of St. Thomas. More than150 volunteers from these organizations helped with the planning and coordination of this event.