The Einstein Project

The Einstein Project puts bugs where they're needed: In Wisconsin's middle school science classrooms, not in email malware! Thanks to TechSoup's donation program, the nonprofit was able to get its first choice — Symantec — for protection against viruses and malware.

The Einstein Project was formed 24 years ago when the Wisconsin business and education communities realized that "we need more than textbooks — young children need to get their hands dirty; that's how children learn," explained Executive Director Kelly Ellis. The organization now provides resources and interactive hands-on science learning kits to 40 school districts and 65,000 students from pre-kindergarten to eighth grade in Wisconsin. It also gives support to teachers with professional development and services for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) subjects.

The results are clear. A 2007 study by Professor Ashmann of the University of Wisconsin — Green Bay, showed that students in school districts using The Einstein Project's hands-on kits understood science better. There was also a correlation to better science test scores.

Disaster struck The Einstein Project when its server shut down for two days because of malware. The shutdown left 11 paid employees with nothing to do except work on small projects and go home early. The majority of work to communicate with teachers and send out kits with live critters like bugs, butterfly larvae, fish, or snails came to a standstill.

The Einstein Project ships science kits with live critters to Wisconsin classrooms.

Clearly the organization needed a better solution for preventing malware. After staff members analyzed their options, they wanted to make the right choice.

Symantec was the organization's first choice for security. Two of the board members had had good success with Symantec Endpoint Protection Small Business Edition and Symantec Mail Security for Microsoft Exchange. Ellis explained, "We also received advice from our IT gurus at ZyQuest. Their founder sits on our board of directors and it was their team that said Symantec was a good fit."

Ellis continued: "We needed 20 [licenses for] Endpoint Protection and were able to make the right choice because we could afford it. … [W]e didn't have to go over budget. If our tech budget goes over, we're not updating the kits or professional development." That in turn empowers the organization to focus on what the Einstein Project does best: providing hands-on STEM education opportunities.

The nonprofit has never looked back or had any malware problems ever since.