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To provide a free web-based platform for teachers who seek to promote innovation, collaboration, and inspiration through highly vetted science resources and experts.



Teachers have the tools to engage all students in relevant and purposeful content; relabeling classroom learning with a systems thinking approach.

Our Story

We consist of a passionate group of experts committed to transforming education. Drawing from our diverse backgrounds, we possess firsthand knowledge and experience that enable us to effectively support educational innovation. Our primary objective is to empower educators by facilitating their access to essential resources, thereby enabling them to create authentic learning opportunities within their classrooms.

We understand that teachers often face challenges in terms of time constraints, limited resources, and financial constraints when it comes to developing compelling lessons that foster student development. Our focus is on connecting educators with cost-free resources, experiential professional development, and partnerships that enhance purposeful content engagement with classrooms.

Authentic Explorations Matters maintains a database of highlighted organizations that supply free resources and help connect teachers with the supplies and materials. We offer experiential Professional development opportunities and provide mentorship to educators seeking guidance in STEAM and sustainability initiatives.

Meet The Founder and Director

Meet The Education Coordinator

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Ashley Hollern

Founder and Executive Director
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  • M.S. Science of Instruction, Drexel University

  • B.S. Biology, minor Chemistry University of Pittsburgh

  • HS Biology Teacher

  • Former College Instructor

  • NASA Endeavor instructor

  • PBS Coral Project Feature


I am a mother of four children; two boys and two girls. I have worked in the field of science education for over 17 years during which time I have taught high school, middle school, and college science classes. I believe that students of all ages should engage in real-world problem-solving opportunities, and learn the value of partnerships. I know firsthand from my work with the @PBDAcoralproject, and the @wps_project2020 that when students have the opportunity to own the outcomes of a project, a new world of education is experienced by the students and the teachers. I am an advocate for change in education by supporting teachers.  I strongly believe all change in society starts with educators.

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Kirstin Kowan

Education Coordinator
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  • B.S. in Education, University of Nebraska

  • Certified National Geographic educator

  • Citizen scientist for Team ORCA

  • OCPS Sustainability board member

  • Trained Climate Reality Leadership Corps member

  • Volunteer with Make-A-Wish Foundation, and The Nature Conservancy


I love spending time outside camping, hiking, kayaking, reading, photography, and getting lost as that is when I find some of the most magical places. I have always loved to explore the Earth. I love helping youth learn about how their actions and their voices can make a difference. I love educating youth in a hands-on approach and seeing the “a-ha” moments when they really make genuine connections to a topic. I am a mom of two, Earth advocate, and free spirit. I have been working with youth for 6 years and love teaching young minds.

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Meet The Board

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Tiffany Alraefae

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  • School Leader. Global Educator. Wellbeing Champion. STEAM Facilitator. Inclusion and Belonging Advocate.

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Jennifer Donaldson

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  • Of Counsel at Eastburn and Gray, PC

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Tim Rumage

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  • Professor of Environmental Studies at Ringling College of Art and Design

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Our Partners

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