ORISE awards $25,000 to Kramer Middle School teacher in CIA Mission Possible Classroom Transformation competition

July 30, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Kourtney Purham, a life sciences teacher at Kramer Middle School, can look forward to helping her students with project-based learned by incorporating aspects of science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics (STEAM) into her classroom thanks to the Central Intelligence Agency. Purham was the winner of the inaugural CIA Mission Possible Classroom Transformation competition and a $25,000 grand prize with which she can purchase new technology for her classroom.

CIA Mission Possible winner Kourtney Purham

Kourtney Purham

The CIA sponsors CIA Mission Possible Classroom Transformation competition to promote learning in science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (STEAM) fields. The Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education manages the program.

Teachers who applied for the grant were asked to submit a video that creatively portrayed their need for technology in the classroom and how this technology would improve the educational experience of their students.

Representatives from ORISE presented Purham with an oversized check for $25,000 during a surprise visit to Kramer Middle. Purham will be able to purchase 3D printers, scientific calculators, drum machines, grow boxes and other items on her wish list.

In the winning video, Purham wrote her own rap about the importance of STEAM education for her students.

During the reveal, Jennifer Tyrell, ORISE senior project manager for K-12 programs, expressed that there is no limit to education and what students can accomplish given the necessary resources.

CIA Mission Possible winner India Little

India Little

“As education standards continue to evolve, teachers at every school need to have the tools and technology available to help their classrooms evolve as well,” Tyrell said. “Through programs like the CIA Mission Possible Classroom Transformation, we can help provide standout teachers like Kourtney Purham with the necessary materials to make STEAM learning an adventure for students.”

India Little, a science teacher at Charles Hart Middle School, was named runner-up in the competition and received $5,000 for new classroom technology.

Contestants entering the CIA Mission Possible Classroom Transformation were required to teach a STEAM subject in grades 3-10 in a Baltimore public school. Teachers were required to submit a short video illustrating the classroom’s need and explain how the new technologies would be used to energize and enhance learning. 

For a full description of the contest, please visit https://orise.orau.gov/cia-mission-possible/.

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The Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) is a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) asset that is dedicated to enabling critical scientific, research, and health initiatives of the department and its laboratory system by providing world class expertise in STEM workforce development, scientific and technical reviews, and the evaluation of radiation exposure and environmental contamination.

ORISE is managed by ORAU, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation and federal contractor, for DOE’s Office of Science. The single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, the Office of Science is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit science.osti.gov.