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Celebrating 45 Years Inspiring Today’s Learners and Tomorrow’s Leaders with the Kaleidoscope Education Series

This school year marks the 45th anniversary of SC Johnson’s Kaleidoscope Education Series (KES). Launched in 1979, KES offers a wide variety of STEM-focused, grade-specific programs that complement and support school curricula including topics such as modern physics, magnets, energy conductors, surface tension, aerodynamics, states of matter and much more. Recently, KES hit a new milestone with over 1 million students now having received access to STEM learning through the program.

Since its inception, these programs have been and continue to be available at no cost to schools. In 2011, SC Johnson began covering the cost of busing for schools located in southeastern Wisconsin, closing the gap for teachers who couldn’t afford transportation fees due to their school’s budget. Once SC Johnson began to cover this cost, the number of students who were able to attend per year more than doubled.

Over the years, as both schools and technology changed, so too has KES. During a time when kindergarten was split into morning and afternoon classes, we offered program times during both. And before the world entered the digital age, teachers had to mail in their request to attend a KES program and anxiously wait for our confirmation letter to be sent back. When the COVID-19 pandemic began and schools shifted online, we expanded the programs to offer live broadcasts, furthering the program’s accessibility to other communities where we are located. Schools from areas such as Bay City, Michigan and Gaston County, North Carolina have now attended KES programs virtually.

Highlights from the 2022-2023 Program
With more than 170 schools across the country participating during the ‘22-’23 school year, there were three programs that students engaged with the most. In fact, our first year post-pandemic, some programs were so popular that we added extra dates to accommodate as many students as possible and have them experience the wonders of science-based learning for themselves.

  1. With nearly 3,000 in-person attendees and over 1,700 virtual participants, The Mexico Great White Shark Expedition was by far the most popular KES program in the 2022-2023 school year. During the program, undersea explorers took elementary students on a thrilling adventure in search of great white sharks at Guadalupe Island in Mexico, all the while teaching them about the science of marine biology.
  2. Over 2,500 kindergarten and 1st grade students worked on their problem-solving skills with The Mousetrap Machine Show in February of 2023. They combined various simple machines to construct a successfully functioning mousetrap design.
  3. During the Forces and Motion KES in October 2022, the complex field of physics was made accessible to over 2,000 5th grade students. Topics like the theory of gravity, forms of energy and rotational forces were all explained through engaging demonstrations.

Looking at the Year Ahead
The 2023-2024 KES year offers unique experiences for students of all ages. For instance, the program “Discover Chemical Reactions,” created for 3rd grade students will leave them with an understanding of the difference between a physical change and a chemical change through slime and other hands-on experiences. Other fall programs include “Mr. Electric,” where 6th graders learn about some of the most mysterious discoveries in science and “Laser Science,” a program safely showing 5th grade students what high-powered lasers can do. Educators can read about upcoming programs and register here.

Today, the program reaches more than 43,000 children annually in Wisconsin and this year’s KES programs will attract an estimated 51,000 students.

Beyond the Kaleidoscope Education Series

Our commitment to helping future generations succeed goes beyond KES. Additional initiatives include:

  • SC Johnson STEM Scholars Pathway: In 2021, SC Johnson announced a $5.5 million commitment to create a scholarship program in our hometown community for students to attend Gateway Technical College and then transfer to a partner institution to pursue a bachelor’s degree.
  • STEM Girls Initiative: SC Johnson provided over $80,000 in support of this program within the Racine Unified School District, which aims to engage and encourage 30 middle school girls annually, especially girls from underrepresented populations, to consider careers in the STEM fields. 
  • SMART STEM Programming: SC Johnson helped fund the expansion of Girls Inc. Of Southeast Wisconsin programming to over 300 middle school girls annually. Their SMART STEM program provides after-school STEM multi-disciplinary experiences, including tutoring and exposure to off-site STEM experiences at local companies in order to provide girls with the opportunity to explore and entertain careers in STEM fields.