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Robert Minford and Baden Academy Research Fellows at FedExWhat is an Odyssey Fellowship?

An Odyssey Fellowship is a ongoing opportunity for your child to dedicate time each week to move through an odyssey into a fascinating topic of their choice.  Fellows partner with mentors from around the globe and venture deep into a topic from the cutting edge of science and technology. The Odyssey takes them through four stages: Find Your Passion, Build Your Tribe, Craft Your Story, and Market Your Brand.


Find Your Passion

The Odyssey begins on a journey to help your child find their passion.  Students bring their own personalities, likes and dislikes, pet peeves and favorite things.  They encounter what leaders have identified as the grand challenges of our century. They explore start ups awarded top innovation prizes. They identify one of the problems they most want to solve in the world and start to work!

Students, during the Find Your Passion part of an Odyssey Fellowship,  learn internet safety, digital citizenship, cloud computing, and internet search techniques and tools.

For example, Anna Rutkowski, a student and odyssey fellow at Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic High School, was passionate about the critical need for clean water in many parts of the world.  Her passion led her to interview Dr. Teri Denkovich and learn about Dr. Teri’s invention of a silver nanoparticle-infused paper. The filter paper makes polluted water drinkable for, potentially, millions of children and families around the world. See Anna’s book, Nanoparticle Superheroes Defeat Evil Microbes.  


Build Your Tribe

The Odyssey continues with your student learning to articulate their mission and reach out to experts working on solutions that fuel their passion. Students begin to develop a network with a global community that shares their passion, create a web presence and interview leaders in their field.

Students, during the Build Your Tribe part of the Odyssey Fellowship, learn to craft interview request letters, conduct, record, and publish interviews, and master the basic vocabulary of their field. Along the way they are developing the tools of critical thinking, how to build a website, create a podcast or YouTube videos, and communicate professionally. Students learn difficult yet critical skills of collaboration and perseverance.

For example, Oliver, Avery, and Grace found their passion in robots that work on and under the water.  They started a website, Aquatic Robotics, and began to reach out to companies and engineers building robots.  They started by meeting with a company called Platypus, LLC that creates robotic airboats for water testing on rivers and lakes. They were invited to interview experts from Platypus as they demonstrated their boats to the teachers and professors at Geneva college.

They are excited to get back to work.  They filmed a remote interview with Dr. Andrew Thompson of CalTech exploring the Antarctic with his robotic ocean gliders and are eager to take it into editing. Another mentor responded from Norway and they will be filming that interview in the fall (via Skype).


Craft Your Story

Fellowships are renewable as projects grow and expand.  The third stop in the odyssey is a challenge for the student (or students if they are working as a team) to craft an illustrated children’s book that communicates science and wonder of a recent innovation. Fellows partner with a mentor found in the Build Your Tribe stage of the fellowship. We also encourage them to connect with specific local businesses and international partners to help with writing the book.

Illustrations are created through green screen photography, original art by the author or guest illustrator, or a mixture of different media. Books are published through Lulu and available for purchase on Amazon and online sites. Profits from book sales are directed to charity.  

For example, Carter and Hoby wondered about genetics and cancer. They partnered with Dr. Emily Furbee of the Computation and Systems Biology Department at the University of Pittsburgh.  They did a lot of homework, created a preliminary draft, and spent a morning with Dr. Furbee in her lab trying to understand and explain her research in language children could understand. Their book, Fred the Fruit Fly Visits Dr. Furbee’s Lab, introduces kids to some difficult concepts of DNA through fun metaphors and an engaging story.  All profits from book sales are donated to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital. You can buy the book through Lulu at  The boys not only made the clay figurines, worked with a parent artist with visions of drawings, used green screen photography, but also mastered a Picture to Cartoon software. Their message is important and inspiring.


Market Your Brand

The final stage of an odyssey fellowship is to make their website and book into a business venture. Fellows are empowered to grow as entrepreneurs, to schedule book signings, appearances, talks, and develop “merch” (merchandise) that reflects their mission and their brand. They create a product catalog for their website, a Donation Button for their ‘people’ to give to the charity they are pledged to, a link to products like tee shirts and iphone covers on Zazzle, building a Mobile app for the Google Play store, even creating a 3-D keychain or pendant on Shapeways.  

Market Your Brand is the moment in the Odyssey Fellowship for them to explore building an participating audience and discover kids and adults around the world as excited as they are about the passion they are pursuing.  They will reach out creatively and expressively to communicate their innovative ideas that solves a need in the world. Fellows grow as servant leaders who seek to influence others who share in their ideals and desires for the world to be better.

Ultimately, what they create serves to satisfy a *niche market* with a tangible product.  Their website, book(s), videos, and branded materials become an encounter for their audience, one that transforms their audience to walk away with an *added value.*  What a noble task.

For example, the MG Kids began by making  YouTube Videos about using chemistry and physics to experiment with “Molecular Gastronomy” (exploring new culinary experiences). You can watch them make chocolate spaghetti, or custard that sticks together in a sphere, or powdered nutella.  Many of these videos are made on site with chefs, chemistry professors, even ice cream confectioners. One of their videos was retweeted by a molecular gastronomist in Dubai – that is all the way around the world in the United Arab Emirates. Amazing – fourth graders playing with their food are now international celebrities – at least with molecular gastronomists! Don’t you want your own MG Kids apron!  Better yet, you child can also become an MG Kid and make a video to add to their site.


How much work is involved?

The Odyssey Lab at the STEM Leadership Center is open two days a week for an hour.  Fellows can stop in every evening and work. We recommend at least once a week. Some projects require additional time outside of the lab, particularly when mentors schedules come into play or interviews with professionals are asked for.

The Odyssey Lab Online will formally meet for 90 minutes every two weeks as a group [Fridays from 4:00 PM to 5:30 PM], and privately for 30 minutes on opposing weeks [as available].

Fellowships seek to produce artefacts (digital artifacts) worthy of portfolios, college (or grant) applications.  They are a lot of work, but done in an atmosphere of fun and exploration. Goal driven, with lots of tutorials and encouragement, fellows take pride in the extra effort their fellowship has challenged them to expend.

Students have mentioned that the world seems so much bigger to them are a fellow.  They produce meaningful projects and unique contributions that don’t simply add to their resume but engage them as autonomous and purposeful learners.


Is credit earned for the work done?

The fellowship does not earn a “credit” for your academic transcript.  It does provide unique artifacts to be included on college, scholarship, and internship applications.  Many fellows use their experiences on the fellowship to write their college essay. More and more schools are looking at not just GPA and SAT scores, but also those leadership opportunities that shape the skill set of innovation, critical thinking, collaboration, emotional intelligence, resilience, leadership, and vision.  

More questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to  Visit for other examples of research fellowships.

We are asking that, should your child want to participate in this great opportunity, you return an application before our deadline of August 29th.  Feel free to contact with specific questions.  We hope [student name] can participate.

View of playlist of recent fellowship projects


Mentors from around the globe are solicited to assist our research fellows as they face the challenges of their project. Mentors communicate their own experience and take special interest in helping each fellow develop into a successful professional with unique interest and skills in their chosen field.  Odyssey Fellows’ mentors are specifically expected to:

●      Help the Research Fellow arrive at clearly stated goals and objectives of any proposed research projects;

●      Monitor the fellow’s research experience at least once a quarter to discuss progress, results and plans for next steps;

●      Participate as available in the completed projects celebrations in the press and in person.

Past mentors include Dr. Teri Dankovich CEO Folio Water, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency, RoPro Design, Software Engineers from Fed Ex, Beaver County Humane Society, ASPCA, Dream Flight Adventures, Beaver County Youth Entrepreneurship Network, Lincoln Learning Solutions, BeautyCounter, Park Rangers, Dr. Subha Das at CMU, Dr. Joseph Ayoob at University of Pittsburgh, Professors and Conservation Officers from New South Wales Australia, the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium, the Marine Mammal Center, Pittsburgh Filmmakers, the Epilepsy Foundation, Paws with a Cause, the Sisters of St. Joseph, Outreached Arms, Air Heritage Museum, Emergency Response Providers, RedMorph, Baden United Food Bank, We Schools, Future City, Future Engineers, TED-Ed Clubs, and FIRST Robotics.



Some school districts will sponsor a limited number of fellowships or you can apply directly to Grow a Generation to become a research fellow.  Prices for an online fellowship start at $210 per month.  Contact  to schedule an interview today.



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