For the past 20 years, Toyota and NSTA have promoted science education in classrooms through the Toyota TAPESTRY Grants for Science Teachers Program, providing more than $9.2 million in grants and touching more than 1,147 teams of teachers and tens of thousands of students nationwide. Toyota announced today nearly $550,000 in grants will be awarded to 79 K-12 educators across the country as a part of the 2010 program. The winning programs will begin classroom implementation in June.

Sponsored by Toyota Motor Sales USA Inc. and administered by the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), the Toyota TAPESTRY Program serves as the nation's largest science teacher grant program of its kind and awards funding for innovative science proposals submitted by educators in three areas: environmental science; physical science; and integrating literacy & science. Since the program's inception in 1990, educators from all 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Mariana Islands have received Toyota TAPESTRY Grants.

"From working to develop an alternative to fossil fuels, to building an electric car from the ground up, the accomplishments of the Toyota TAPESTRY recipients are truly inspiring," said Michael Rouse, Toyota's vice president of philanthropy and community affairs. "Toyota is honored to be celebrating two decades of recognizing excellent teachers and the thousands of students who have formed passionate connections with science through the TAPESTRY program."

As a result of the Toyota TAPESTRY program, numerous educators have gone on to win prestigious awards, including the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science and Mathematics, NSTA Distinguished Teaching Award and the Einstein Fellowship Award. Additionally, teachers have had the opportunity to expand their science-based projects beyond their classrooms, and impact their communities and even state legislatures. Frequently, this includes garnering substantial additional funding.

Through two Toyota TAPESTRY grants over five years, Iowa middle school teacher Hector Ibarra and his students helped change Iowa legislation. "My TAPESTRY awards allowed my students to work outside of the classroom, where they partnered with community members and legislators to craft bills that later became laws," said Ibarra. "These laws banned oil filters from being disposed in landfills, required recycling of mercury thermostats, and banned the manufacturing of mercury thermostats in Iowa. As a result, the Toyota TAPESTRY grants not only impacted my students, but will also continue to affect future generations because of the environmental progress accomplished."

This year, 79 teachers in grades K-12 from across the United States were selected from more than 500 applications. Judges, accomplished in various areas of science, select projects that stand out in creativity, risk-taking and originality. Of the $550,000 granted this year, 50 teachers receive large grants of up to $10,000 each, and 29 receive mini grants of up to $2,500 each. To follow this year's TAPESTRY recipients' projects as they progress through the year, please visit www.toyotatapestry.com.

"For the past 20 years NSTA has partnered with Toyota to deliver this inspiring, far-reaching program that gives teachers the tools they need to introduce real-world science into their classrooms," said Francis Eberle, executive director for NSTA. "It is a wonderfully rewarding partnership and NSTA is excited to celebrate 20 years of providing classroom resources and inspiration for countless educators and students with the Toyota TAPESTRY program."

Toyota TAPESTRY is open to elementary, middle and high school science teachers in the United States and its territories, including the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Teachers may apply individually or in teams. Applications are submitted online and are due in January each year. For more information about Toyota TAPESTRY grants, visit www.nsta.org/programs/tapestry or call 800-807-9852.