2023 Catalyst Moonshot CoLaboratory December Update

When Beyond100K launched its Moonshot CoLaboratories (CoLabs) program in the spring, the intention was for network partners to come together and engage in collective learning, experimentation, and problem-solving bringing together the work of Beyond100K’s first decade and setting the stage for the next. The three Catalyst CoLabs (Teacher Work Environment, Foundational Math, and Equity in High School STEM) were tasked with making progress on shared goals from our first ten years, while also leading efforts to identify areas the network might direct action in response to the new moonshot goal of fostering belonging for Black, Latinx, and Native American students and teachers. 

Over the past six months, Catalyst CoLab members have participated in a journey of identifying a problem statement, selecting a method for further exploring the issue, narrowing in on a solution path, and presenting their work at Beyond100Ks annual Summit held in Philadelphia in November. While each of the teams followed similar trajectories, the sections that follow highlight the end products of each of the three Catalyst CoLabs as well as a recap on their Summit presentations, “ICYMI” (in case you missed it!)

Teacher Work Environment

After landing on their problem statement–Systems of power and privilege often create inequitable school work environments for teachers, especially Black, Latinx and indigenous teachers. This makes it difficult to attract and retain talent, particularly in STEM, which is highly specialized–the Teacher Work Environment CoLab wrestled collectively with how to approach this challenge. They asked, how might we identify and support recruitment and retention efforts for Black, LatinX and Indigenous teachers in local and regional locations? After brainstorming many possible ways they could tackle this question, the team ultimately decided instead of choosing one path to explore, they would represent the sum of their ideas visually, with the intention of sharing this at Summit and receiving feedback from participants related to which approaches they might find useful in supporting their work. Click here to see their final mindmap

The Teacher Work Environment CoLab’s Summit presentation proved to be an interactive and lively session! The group began by engaging participants in a full-body version of a rock-paper-scissors competition where folks could take on one of three personas: Indiana Jones, Karate Girl, or Grizzly Bear! This helped get attendees out of their seats, moving, laughing, and getting to know one another before diving into a deeper discussion. After sharing their CoLab learning journey, the team gave participants time to engage with their mindmap, and then individuals selected one of the mindmap’s “spokes'' to further explore. Spokes–or possible ways of supporting recruitment and retention efforts for Black, LatinX, and Indigenous teachers–included mapping resources for both teacher recruitment and retention, infographics, a social media group, toolkits, communities of practice, identifying potential teacher candidates, and training programs. Gathering with others who chose the same spoke, members of the CoLab then scattered to facilitate small group discussions centering questions around what participants noticed, what they were wondering, what blind spots the CoLab should consider if they were to pursue this idea going forward, and what would be most useful to them in their role or context. The Teacher Work Environment CoLab had a visual notetaker capturing their session, visually. Check it out below!


At their final CoLab meeting and end-of-year celebration, the group reflected on their time together and their Summit session, noting they felt they were just getting started! The team is hoping to put their heads together and find ways to pursue one of the “spokes” further and pilot an actionable next step in the new year. 

Foundational Math

The Foundational Math CoLab landed on this problem statement to explore collectively: when institutional-centered outcomes are prioritized over student strengths, assets and needs, then experiences in pre-K-5 mathematics lack joy and authentic connections for many students, educators, and communities. Asking “How might we cultivate strengths and create opportunities to make connections between communities and learning while making math joyful for students and teachers?”  led them to create a repository of joyful mathematical experiences for educators and families. Click here to explore their Google Site housing the resources they gathered! 

The team used their time at Summit to both engage participants in a joyful mathematical learning experience together found on their website, and then allow them to explore and offer feedback on the site. They began with an icebreaker and engaged the group in conducting a series of “math meetings” where each person met with as many other people as possible to introduce themselves and share a joyful mathematical memory. What participants didn’t know was this activity was the basis for the joyful mathematics they would explore together!

The CoLab then asked small groups to explore together how to figure out the total number of conversations, or, “math meetings,” had if everyone at their table met with everyone else. Armed with math manipulatives, chart paper, and markers, groups tackled the problem in a variety of ways, from acting out the problem, to creating diagrams and drawings, to modeling the situation with manipulatives. They were then challenged to figure out a way to generalize their thinking for any given number of people in the room. One of the CoLab members facilitated a lively mathematical discussion where participants shared their thinking and made connections. There were lots of “aha!” moments and smiles around the room!

This experience was a segway into the sharing of the website, and the group allowed time for individuals to dig into the content of the site and provide feedback. One key takeaway for the group was the desire for there to be a clear definition of what they mean by joyful mathematics, and for them to consider questions like “joy…for who?”

In their final end-of-year meeting and celebration, the CoLab discussed what the future of their collective work might look like. The conversation included ways to integrate the feedback received at Summit to revise their website, as well as opportunities for disseminating the site more widely amongst their networks. Their hope is for joyful mathematics to become the norm instead of the exception and to eliminate the phrase “I hate math!” from young people’s vocabulary! 

Equity in High School STEM

Throughout their time together, the Equity in High School STEM CoLab explored their problem statement: equipping STEM teachers to support historically marginalized students is not a priority for many districts, teacher prep programs, and policymakers. They asked themselves, how might we better understand what the needs of historically marginalized students are in different communities? The CoLab concluded a great first step to make progress on this issue would be to ask young people directly! As a result, they created a first draft of an interview protocol and survey to be used in various contexts to help stakeholders understand the needs of historically marginalized youth in their community. Check out their protocol and survey here

At Summit, the CoLab kicked off their session by asking participants to reflect on their own experiences in high school STEM courses and whether or not they experienced a sense of belonging. This set the stage for a brainstorming session on how they might go about understanding the needs of historically marginalized students in STEM–those who perhaps most need to experience a sense of belonging in STEM. They then unveiled their draft interview protocol and survey, and used the National School Reform Faculty’s Tuning Protocol to facilitate a structured feedback session that yielded actionable steps the CoLab could take to revise their materials.

During their end-of-year celebration and final meeting, the group reflected on their time together and dug into some of the feedback garnered from the Tuning Protocol. They are hoping to find a way to use the notes from their session to revise and, hopefully, pilot some interviews and the survey in the new year.


Rest assured, the work these CoLabs started in 2023 will not stop in 2024! For those who were able to attend the Summit in Philadelphia, you were able to engage with our new STEM Belonging Map. In the new year, the Beyond100K team will roll out a variety of opportunities to work on making progress on the five focus “keystones”–the most high-leverage challenges–identified in the map. Given the connectedness between these keystones and the work of the three focus area CoLabs, we are excited to continue working to make progress on these challenges. We want to thank each member of the Catalyst CoLab teams for all they brought to this effort in 2023, and acknowledge their collective insight and input will be foundational to the work of the network moving forward. Stay tuned for more information about ways to be involved in the new year!