Competition Challenges Americans to Reimagine the Chemistry Set

Seeking creative ideas for sparking children’s interest in science and engineering

October 15, 2013 (Palo Alto, Calif.) – The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, in collaboration with Society for Science & the Public (SSP) today announced the launch of a new competition focused on creating the equivalent of the chemistry set for the 21st Century. The Science, Play and Research Kit (SPARK) Competition challenges participants to generate a new set of experiences and activities that encourage imagination and interest in science, bringing the spirit of the classic chemistry set to today’s children. 
“Renowned inventors, researchers and innovators – including our co-founder, Gordon Moore –often attribute their early fascination with science to their childhood chemistry sets. More than just toys, these sets often fueled an interest in, a lifelong appreciation for, and a dedication to various fields of science and engineering,” said Steve McCormick, president of the Moore Foundation. “Gordon’s childhood chemistry set ultimately ignited a technology revolution, and new versions of these experiences should kindle the next generation of excited, motivated and science-captivated researchers, explorers and fans.”  
The SPARK competition seeks creative ideas for modern science exploratory experiences that are accessible and spark a child’s imagination. The Moore Foundation and SSP believe the contest will result in ideas that will ignite a new generation of great scientific minds and science enthusiasts. 
The competition is searching for entrants from all walks of life, from elementary school teachers to tenured professors and digital developers to graduate students. The contest focuses on science beyond chemistry, seeking ideas for new tools that tap into the spirit of the classic chemistry set and encourage children to wonder how and why the world works.
“Decades ago, the chemistry set helped inspire kids’ passion for discovery. But as times change, we see that young people have fewer chances to delight in tinkering and exploring,” said Rick Bates, Interim CEO and Chief Advancement Officer at SSP. “We intend that SPARK will encourage entrants to consider how to recapture children’s interest in science and foster lasting curiosity and creativity.”
The contest, which launches today and will accept submissions through January 7, 2014, is open to all U.S. residents over the age of 18. The top prize for the best science kit prototype is $50,000, with additional prizes given to runners-up and idea submissions.
SPARK encourages participants to submit both prototypes – projects that are operational and demonstrable – and ideations – project ideas that participants have not yet developed but have conceived with enough consideration to be plausible. SPARK encourages entrants to think creatively. 
“SPARK is exciting because we are asking Americans to rethink how we get kids addicted to learning science and all the disciplines,” said Dennis Bartels, executive director of San Francisco’s Exploratorium and an ambassador for the competition. “We want to cultivate the inquisitiveness inherent in children, because these seeds of curiosity and interest grow to awareness and engagement of the world around them, for life and for expanding the frontiers of knowledge.”
Competition details and more information can be found at: An active discussion will be held on Twitter using the hashtag #reimaginetheset.
Society for Science & the Public is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit membership organization dedicated to the achievement of young researchers in independent research and to the public engagement in science. Established in 1921, its vision is to promote the understanding and appreciation of science and the vital role it plays in human advancement. Through its acclaimed education competitions, including the Intel Science Talent Search, the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, and the Broadcom MASTERS, and its award-winning Science News family of publications, Society for Science & the Public is committed to inform, educate, and inspire. Learn more at or follow @Society4Science.
The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation believes in bold ideas that create enduring impact in the areas of science, environmental conservation and patient care. Intel co-founder Gordon and his wife Betty established the foundation to create positive change around the world and at home in the San Francisco Bay Area. Science looks for opportunities to transform–or even create–entire fields by investing in early-stage research, emerging fields and top research scientists. Our environmental conservation efforts promote sustainability, protect critical ecological systems and align conservation needs with human development. Patient care focuses on eliminating preventable harms and unnecessary healthcare costs through meaningful engagement of patients and their families in a supportive, redesigned healthcare system. Visit us at or follow @MooreScientific.