Laura Akesson, founder

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A solo picture of Laura Akesson, founder of Science Overdrive

Ms. Laura M. Akesson’s passion for science education began with an interest in mathematics and education at a young age. This interest sustained her through her studies as a University Scholar at the University of Richmond where she earned a BS in Mathematics and a minor in Secondary Education. Yet the wonder, the application, and the fun of science caught her attention early enough for her to earn a dual BA degree in physics as well. In pursuit of deeper understanding, Laura took two years amidst her teaching career to obtain her Master’s degree in Applied Physics at Virginia Commonwealth University, where she was awarded the Physics Graduate Academic Award at the conclusion of her studies.

Laura has taught in numerous classroom environments including public high schools, university introductory labs, and an international school (Zurich International School). Her repertoire contains a myriad of mathematics, physics, and engineering courses. She has immersed herself in student life as a coach and sponsor of numerous clubs and activities. She has also been involved in physics curriculum development for Henrico County Public Schools. Within the classroom, she constantly strives to teach students the material as it relates to daily life: the culture, structures, and processes that surround them – and sometimes what goes on inside of them! Laura believes that learning should be fun and active and that students learn best through experience. To this extent, she brings music, art, sport, and history into her classes regularly. She has been nominated for Who’s Who Among American High School Teachers. She has been awarded grants to both obtain equipment for the classroom as well as to pursue scientific research. Since she began teaching, Laura has become involved with many professional organizations, but is most active in the American Assocation of Physics Teachers (AAPT), the American Physical Society (APS), and QuarkNet (a particle physics education group). She presented at AAPT’s most recent conference on the topic of vertical curriculum alignment in grades K-12.

In 2006, Laura became involved in the initial year of Physics Is Elementary (PIE), a collaboration between 4th and 5th grade science teachers and secondary physics teachers. The objective was to provide SOL-based materials and content in order to strengthen teacher understanding and teacher effectiveness in the 4th and 5th grade classroom. This simple, cost effective, and engaging model has the promise of transforming professional development for all K-12 science teachers. Laura began Science Overdrive, a non-profit organization, in 2009 to provide a permanent, self-sustaining basis to continuously fulfill this promise for teachers in Virginia and provide a model to be shared, expanded, and improved throughout the U.S. It has the potential to raise the base of teacher and student proficiency in science. The model increases teacher confidence in teaching science, enhances student learning in science – vital in our world where technological and scientific advances are so closely tied with economic development and a nation’s success.

Laura may be reached by email at