Campus & Community

Laura Overdeck, Math Education Reformer and Philanthropist, to Speak at Stevens 147th Commencement

Social entrepreneur provides nation new way for children to approach math, strengthen future learning

(Hoboken, N.J. – March 15, 2019) – Education reformer and philanthropist Laura Bilodeau Overdeck, founder of Bedtime Math and chair of the Overdeck Family Foundation, nonprofits that have moved the needle on math and science education reform, will deliver Stevens 2019 Commencement address on Wednesday, May 22, President Nariman Farvardin announced today.

Through her work at Bedtime Math, Overdeck developed an app that delivers nightly math problems for parents and kids to solve together, giving parents a free, simple tool that stokes major lasting jumps in their children's math skills, effectively changing their academic trajectory. The Overdeck Family Foundation, in parallel, supports math and science education reform in the U.S, focusing on new school and teacher training models, informal STEM learning programs, and early childhood programming. 

In addition to the Bedtime Math app, which has garnered more than a quarter of a million downloads, Overdeck has also written four books and launched Crazy 8s, the nation’s largest recreational after-school math club, which enables young children to explore math through play. 

"Laura’s innovative approaches to instilling a love of mathematics while improving students' self-efficacy and aptitude in math have had a significant impact on the lives and futures of hundreds of thousands of students,” said Farvardin. “We are inspired by her work, eager to hear her Commencement remarks, and truly honored to welcome her as a member of the Stevens community.”

Overdeck’s success has been accompanied by proven results. A study published in Science found that within just one school year, kids who used the Bedtime Math app improved their math achievement on average by three months more than children who didn’t use the app. Most notably, kids of the most math-anxious parents who chose to do Bedtime Math gained an extra half school year of skills. 

A Johns Hopkins University study on Crazy 8s, which is a free program run by Bedtime Math, showed that the club significantly reduces children’s feelings of math anxiety after eight weeks of participation in the club. The effect was more pronounced among younger kids in the kindergarten through second grade club than the third through fifth grade club. Since 2014, 140,000 children have participated in 10,000 Crazy 8s clubs across the country.

Among several other initiatives, Bedtime Math has also begun a program for third-grade classrooms in New Jersey called Up the Ladder, which matches selected Crazy 8s Club games to state standards, so schools can incorporate them into lesson plans. The program launched in 2017-2018 in a limited number of districts.

A native of New Jersey, Overdeck is a trustee at Princeton University and board vice chair at Liberty Science Center, and serves on the advisory boards of Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth, Khan Academy and Governor’s School of New Jersey. She received an A.B. in astrophysical sciences from Princeton in 1991, and an MBA from University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business. At the Commencement ceremony she will receive an honorary doctor of engineering. 

Commencement will be held on Wednesday, May 22, 2019 at the Meadowlands Expo Center in Secaucus, New Jersey. The Undergraduate ceremony will begin at 11 a.m. and the Graduate ceremony will begin at 4 p.m.

About Stevens Institute of Technology
Stevens Institute of Technology is a premier, private research university situated in Hoboken, New Jersey overlooking the Manhattan skyline. Since our founding in 1870, technological innovation has always been the hallmark and legacy of Stevens’ education and research. Within the university’s three schools and one college, 6,900 undergraduate and graduate students collaborate closely with faculty in an interdisciplinary, student-centric, entrepreneurial environment. Academic and research programs spanning business, computing, engineering, the arts and other fields actively advance the frontiers of science and leverage technology to confront our most pressing global challenges. The university is consistently ranked among the nation’s elite for return on tuition investment, career services and the mid-career salaries of alumni.

Media Contact: Keri Fitzpatrick, 201.216.5139, [email protected]