Achieve’s Popular Maker Madness Fair Is Online Through the Month of May

by The Achieve Foundation
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From the Achieve Foundation

Many were disappointed to learn that Achieve’s perennially popular Maker Madness STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Math) fair scheduled for April 25th had to be postponed. The organizers are hoping to reschedule in mid-November, but in the meantime, Achieve has deemed May “(Virtual) Maker Madness Month” and their own mad scientist volunteers are posting at-home activities and experiments regularly throughout the month of May. Be sure to check out Achieve’s Facebook event page every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon at 3:30 PM to see new posts. 

Looking for something to do over the upcoming long holiday weekend?  Kick it off Thursday afternoon, May 21 at 3:30 for a live Maker Madness Quiz: Mind Cabin Fever (or maybe not)!  Mind boggling fun for the entire family led by mad maker Eyal Ben-Ari.  And you won’t want to miss next Tuesday’s “Quarantine Scene” LEGO Challenge. 

You can also find prior activity ideas on the Facebook event page as well as on the Maker Madness page of the Achieve website  Highlights include a LEGO Challenge: Create and Share a Summer Scene, Make a Cardboard Geodesic Dome with Maplewoodshop, and Fun with Water.  All are easy activities and experiment you and your kids can do with items you probably have at home. 

Achieve is grateful to all the local businesses who support our work all year, and those who have sponsored Maker Madness 2020 — especially the Able Baker, Amy Paternite Homes, Anthony Garubo Salon, BCB Bank, Berkowitz Lichtstein, CertaPro Painters, Clawson Cabinets, Coraggio Brothers Plumbing, D&I Fitness, Edrington, 4 Elbows, Morrow Turnover Sale, Natalie Farrell, Pollock Properties, the South Mountain YMCA, and SOMEA. Please check out a full list of Achieve’s business partners on their website and support these local businesses that support public education in our community.

Since school closures in March, Achieve staff and volunteers have continued to work (from home) to support students and educators in the South Orange-Maplewood School District in their distance learning efforts in other ways as well. 

  • Virtual Volunteer Tutoring began in early April and is up and running for students of all the South Orange-Maplewood district schools.  Online sessions start off with a larger group check-in, and then students break out for individual or small group support. Achieve thanks the 125+ volunteer tutors and the session supervisors who have met the challenge of continuing to help our students.
  • At the end of March, Achieve partnered with the Parenting Center and provided $12,800 to the District to fund 100 hotspots to be distributed to SOMSD families for use during the COVID-19 school closure. After some challenges with supply issues, hotspots were located and ordered.  Distribution began in early May to families who responded to a technology needs survey conducted by administration.
  • Distance learning has been hard on students and families, but certainly on the staff as well. Through Achieve’s “Honor Your Teacher” program, families can send messages of appreciation to teachers, guidance counselors, nurses, principals — any staff member in any SOMSD school. What better way to thank our educators who are working so hard to keep all students engaged and learning during these trying times? Best of all, this is the gift that gives back by funding next year’s educator grants program. 
  • Speaking of which, the next teacher grant application opened in late April and all teachers and related school staff (media specialists, guidance counselors, etc.) are invited to apply for a 2020-21 grant by June 30th. To make the process as easy and accessible for staff members as possible, Achieve is offering two interactive grants workshops led by non-profit expert (and SOMSD parent) Hannah Zollman of Mission Driven Consulting.

Of course, many know Achieve for their Nights of 100 Dinners annual fundraiser, which was halted in mid-March with more than half the parties yet to happen. This leaves the organization about $30,000 short of this year’s budget goal, a gap that they are trying to close before the fiscal year ends on June 30th

If you like what you read here, visit to learn more, volunteer or donate. 

About Achieve

Over the past two decades, the Achieve Foundation of South Orange & Maplewood has raised more than $4 million for local public schools and has inspired innovation by awarding over 1,000 educator grants. Last year, Achieve’s flagship Volunteer Tutor Program provided free academic support to more than 350 students across the District. The organization promotes hands-on learning through its free Maker Madness STEAM fair each spring, and enhances music education through programs like the Vanessa Pollock Music Initiative and the Ted Cole Clarinet Project.  To learn more, donate, or volunteer, visit

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