I think there are a lot of misconceptions about robotics. What exactly do you do? How does it work? Are you making robots?
Well, first of all let me say, Spark Academy's ideaventions® robotics classes are FUN! We begin by building with LEGO® bricks. Do you have a LEGO® fanatic in your home? Boys and girls who love building with LEGO® will LOVE our Jr. Robotics, because in ideaventions® Jr. Robotics, we make LEGO® creations come ALIVE!
How? Well, after we build, we use a simple computer programming application called LEGO® WeDo. Explorers quickly learn how to drag and drop with a computer mouse to get their creation singing, moving, displaying pictures, and more. We usually have three challenges in each lab that students find engaging and fun and that build upon their programming, problem solving, and engineering skills.
What's even better is that while the explorers are having fun, they're also learning about engineering (we teach and practice the engineering design cycle -- design, build, test, modify, repeat), simple mechanics (pulleys, levers, axels, etc.), and computer programming (through LEGO® WeDo).
But, perhaps the best part is that each Jr. Robotics lab is themed around something that kids know and love, whether that is Space Battles (Star Wars based), Ninjas (Ninjago based), Wizards (Harry Potter based), or Atlantis (an underwater quest for the lost city). We begin each lab with a brief introductory video to get them excited and them present our new challenge. It's a great way to engage the explorers on our quest.
We hope you'll come join the fun! Check out our latest Jr. Robotics classes here on our website.
Eyeballs in the fridge.
Yep, that's why STEM education is important at a young age. Now, before you get too grossed out, let me explain.
A study out of the University of Virginia (link here) has shown that having engaging and impactful experiences with STEM at a young age (BEFORE middle school) leads to a greater likelihood of having a passion for the STEM fields and eventually going into a STEM-related field as an adult. This article relates the story of one study participant who had the opportunity to dissect cow's eyes in a third grade science lab. In fact, she was so engaged with the lab, she wanted to bring the cows' eyes home. After dutifully following the teacher's instructions to put the cow's eyes in the fridge, she promptly forgot to let her mother know. (You can only imagine the scream that came when the mother opened up that bag in the fridge!)
I love this study and its findings, because I see it to be true every day. It's not about how many AP classes you take (though those can be great), or getting into the right magnet school for high school (though that can be great, too). The real predictor of a person going into a STEM-related field is encouraging and discovering a passion for it at a young age. That's why I'm passionate about Spark Academy learning, where kids are encouraged to get messy, to dream big, to explore, to create, and to ENJOY with science, technology, engineering and math.
We were thankful to be interviewed and highlighted by The Clubhou.se of Augusta in their latest entrepreneurship article. Here's an excerpt.
theClubhou.se member Courtney Hatcher has started up Spark Academy here in Augusta. Spark Academy focuses on STEM education classes for children ages 3-10. Welcome, Courtney!
1. What is the business?
Spark Academy offers innovative, hands-on STEM enrichment learning for children ages 3-10. We focus on hands-on labs in beginning science concepts with tie-ins to engineering and math, and also offer LEGO robotics classes with WeDo computer programming. We offer summer camps and on-site, after-school enrichment with partners at various locations/schools around the area. More here: www.sparkacademygeorgia.com.
2. When and where did you found it?
I founded Spark because I have a love for teaching and I had seen how much fun my nephews were having and how much they were learning through the STEM enrichment classes they were taking in the Washington, D.C. area. I wanted my boys (4 and 6) to have a similar experience. So, I pursued licensing and I got certified in the ideaventions(R) curriculum. Soon after, I started Spark Academy in Augusta in April of 2015, created my own website and offered my first camps that summer.
3. Where is the business now?
We are now offering classes at Open Door Preschool, Augusta Prep, Episcopal Day School (EDS), and MAES Education Center. We are excited about new partnerships with The Clubhouse and Hope for Augusta starting this summer. I am hoping to grow slowly and sustainably. I have hired one teacher to teach alongside me and hope to add another in the next 6 -8 months.
4. What were you like in school?
I was the classic hard-worker; things didn’t always come easily, but I worked hard. I wish I had been more focused on curiosity and inquisitiveness and less about performance. I loved science and government, music and sports.
5. Any extra-curricular activities?
Currently, I am coaching my 8th year of Girls’ Lacrosse at Lakeside High School. I love the girls, building a team, coaching to character, and seeing them develop. We have grown from one team of 15 girls to two teams of 24 (JV and V) and have gone to the playoffs each of the last six years.
Read the full interview here.
This winter break, begin a love of science for your Mini Einstein by joining us for hands-on fun and exploration.
I'm so excited to offer a Winter break camp for our Mini Einsteins this December 28-31. We will explore and experiment Monday through Thursday from 9-10:30am at MAES Education Center.
In this Winter Break Camp we will pick up where we left off with our summer explorers. Our Mini Einsteins® will get to experiment with invisible ink, explore jets and aerodynamics, whip up some yummy kitchen chemistry, and marvel at the properties of light.
I hope your little explorer will come join the fun!
Mini Einstein explorers experimenting with "elephant's toothpaste" -- a chemical reaction between peroxide and yeast that releases oxygen.
We were honored to come teach guest science labs at First Baptist Preschool during the last couple weeks. The kindergarteners learned about the change of seasons and the hidden colors in leaves. It was truly fun to see the children learn hands-on why leaves change in fall and nothing can match the excitement of discovery as we uncovered what colors were hidden in the leaves.
Here's a peek into my preparation for the lab:
Fall is a great time to get outside with your kids for science! You can take a nature walk, collect leaves and sticks, acorns and pinecones. You can discuss the parts of plants (leaves, flowers, stems, and roots) and living and non-living things. You can look at the veins in leaves (even with a magnifying glass or microscope if you have one) and discuss how water moves throughout the plant.
My boys and I took nature walks to gather the leaves for the lab. Most of all, just enjoy the experience and nature. We even found their first honeysuckle to taste!
Spark Academy is thrilled to announce our new partnership with Open Door Preschool in Augusta, Georgia. We are now offering our ideaventions®Mini Einsteins lab on-site at Open Door, a great enrichment opportunity for their students, and a convenient option for busy parents. Mini Einsteins is a wonderful fusion of literacy skills and beginning science concepts.
It's never to early to begin a love of science. STEM enrichment learning helps children to build their curiosity and think critically as they make hypotheses and learn how things work in the world around them. We are looking forward to seeing how these explorers learn and grow in their love of science, their literacy, and their curiosity through the year.
Thank you to Jennifer and all the teachers at Open Door for their partnership!
When the Columbia County News Times asked if they could come observe and take pictures of the Mini Einsteins camp, I was happy to do it. I knew they would see our great curriculum at work (we were studying gasses that day) and the children having fun. But, I was blown away by the great pictures they got of those kids! They truly captured the JOY of Mini Einsteins classes. Thank you, Jim Blaylock and CCNT! Check it out here: "Kids Exercise their Minds in This Summer Camp," August 22, 2015.
Spark Academy, LLC was proud to be featured on The Dish on 6 on June 1, 2015. The folks at WJBF were so helpful and professional, and a former lacrosse student (now a media intern) even helped watch my two boys during the taping. Thanks, Joy!
I was proud to share how Ideaventions classes give children the opportunity to experience STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) concepts first-hand and how children can really amaze us with what they can grasp at an early age.