EP 203: Mind Maps with MindMeister

Kick your brain into high gear with mind maps, a powerful brainstorming tool that encourages users to create a steady flow of original ideas covering a wide range of topics.


Michael Hollauf, CEO and co-founder of MindMeister, joins Huzefa on this week’s podcast to discuss how his company continues to develop its impressive mind-mapping software. Since 2007, MindMeister has been at the forefront of this online, information-sharing technology, working with students, teachers, small-business owners and even big-time corporate executives on an abundance of unresolved issues.

In explaining what a mind map is, Hollauf compared it to a tree diagram with a main topic in the middle. Branches come off the main topic, creating subtopics and the structure for which a person or a group of people can begin to problem-solve.

“It’s super popular because it’s free flow. It’s not like a linear document where you write everything in one direction underneath,” Hollauf said. “It becomes a 2-D map where you can write everything where it belongs and where it comes to mind. . .

Mind maps “have proven to aid remembering and directly understanding a topic through and through. You use both parts of your brain. You use the creative, left side of the brain because of the visual presentation. And you use the right side because of the topics you write down, the general structuring,” he added.

Huzefa and Hollauf both agree that mind maps can be utilized in all walks of life, from classroom or work conference notes, to book summaries and literature-writing ideas. Science, math, law, entertainment -- the possibilities for brainstorming topics online are truly endless.

MindMeister continues to expand its software services and has produced a new app called MeisterTask. The most exciting nugget of information that Hollauf provided, however, is that, in light of the COVID-19 epidemic, MindMeister has made all of its paid software free to educational institutions for the foreseeable future. Individual students who sign up for any paid services will receive a steep discount as well. The site also offers a basic plan at no cost.

This is a very interesting conversation between a pair of entrepreneurs who are helping lead the charge in the ed-tech revolution. Click on the link below to hear the complete interview.











EP 202: Incredible Kids Programming with Cool School

At Cool School, kids can let their imaginations run wild while parents kick back knowing the content being consumed is safe and educational.

With more than 1.2 million YouTube subscribers, Cool School’s popularity has exploded in recent weeks as COVID-19 quarantines spread throughout the globe. Youngsters need new ways to fill their time, and parents are rapidly searching for at-home study solutions.

Geared for children from 3-8 years old, Cool School features a zany cast of characters doing different virtual tasks, including reading sessions, art and craft projects, as well as lessons in personal hygiene and being polite. The tales being told truly come to life through detailed visual storytelling and excellent acting skills from the cast.

In this week’s podcast Huzefa chats with Scott Weitz, CEO and founder of Driver Studios, the producer of Cool School’s clever and ever-evolving content. It’s a fun conversation related to a brand of educational technology that’s starting to gain some serious traction online.

“We want to create stuff that really inspires kids’ imaginations,” said Weitz, a father of five. “Inspire kids to see things that really create curiosity -- we want to see kids get up and do things and really feel great about themselves.”

Ms. Booksy makes reading an adventure; Crafty Carol brings out the best do-it-yourself projects; and Drew Pendous is always taking part in some type of head-scratching journey. These are the most popular characters on the Cool School channel. But according to Weitz, Cool School will be introducing new characters in the very near future, with a particular focus on music and singalong melodies.

Huzefa is totally onboard with the content, and even threw his support behind developing a character who specializes in teaching mathematics to children.

“The way that (Cool School) is creating characters and generating content is by making sure you’re entertaining and gripping,” Huzefa says. 

“The ed-tech revolution is about, one, making the content engaging and, two, making it accessible.”

Cool School can be found on YouTube, Instagram and via their app. To hear to Huzefa’s full conversation with Scott Weitz, please click on the link below:



Cool School Learning App: 

Read Along with Ms. Booksy







EP:201 How a Game Can Beat Coronavirus with Foldit

Here’s something awesome and oh-so-important considering our current global environment: Education technology that can help lead to preventative care.

That’s why we’re loving FoldIt, a non-profit, revolutionary scientific discovery game run by research scientists from universities all across the United States. 

In this week’s podcast, Huzefa speaks with Brian Koepnick, lead scientist for Foldit, regarding the pivotal role proteins play in our ability to comprehend and combat infectious diseases. Koepnick and the incredible crew at Foldit have designed a crowdsourced puzzle game where players are required to fold proteins into realistic, physically-plausible structures, often with tangible, real-life results.

“There’s a vast space of solutions,” Koepnick said. “There are too many different solutions for us to enumerate on a computer. So we rely on the intuition and spatial reasoning of humans, of game players. You don’t have to know anything about biochemistry or proteins -- all of that is taken care of by the game. You just have to learn the basic tools and how to use them, and you can become an effective player.”

Foldit players continue to contribute ideas for HIV/AIDS, cancer, Alzheimer’s and, most recently, COVID19 research. They’ve also been responsible for creating new proteins from scratch, redesigning an existing protein enzyme and discovering an algorithm for how to fold proteins.

Koepnick says Foldit players possess an innate ability to “focus on big-picture problems.”

Huzefa sees a fantastic opportunity for savvy young minds to participate in Foldit games and truly test themselves in the world of scientific research and problem solving.

“Students have a chance to get involved in the process,” he says, “and actually contribute real solutions. It’s just mind-blowing what they do.”

The full conversation with Brian Koepnick can be accessed below. 












EP 200: Learning Made Easy with 2 Minute Classroom

The rapid growth across the ed-tech industry tells us one thing: people love to learn. With more educational resources at our fingertips than ever before, we are all faced with the dilemma of wanting to spend our time learning what we love versus learning specific topics necessary to graduate high school, maintain professional certifications, or continue workplace training.

Thanks to Virgil Ricks, the creator of the 2 Minute Classroom website and channel on YouTube, high school students can rest easy, knowing that the time they were spending on science homework can now be devoted to learning guitar, coding, or taking up a new sport. 2 Minute Classroom is a free and accessible online resource for quickly and easily learning complex topics in science and math.

Virgil is no stranger to encountering high-schooler angst when it comes to learning scientific topics; he saw it first-hand teaching in the classroom for many years. He experimented with using existing YouTube videos, but students complained that they were too long and boring, and he watched them lose interest quickly. The need for shorter more concise and visually engaging content was clear, and from that, 2 Minute Classroom was born.

With approximately 25,000 subscribers now tuning in to Virgil's highly engaging channel, the requests for content have been increasing and the topics you can find using the YouTube search bar within the channel are now quite vast. From biology and chemistry to math, genetics, and physics, whether you are a student, parent, or teacher, you can take advantage of this hugely beneficial resource.





EP 199: Learning off the beaten path with After Skool

Skilled animator Mark Woods has found the perfect formula for keeping us glued to his educational YouTube channel, After Skool. 

The content is intriguing, the animation is engaging and the visual explanations are educating and easy to follow. We have to warn you that watching just one video on After Skool will likely take you on a quest for more knowledge, aka down an online rabbit hole.  The video description says, "The idea of most of the videos on After Skool, is to get you to question things. Believing everything in this video is just as silly as dismissing everything in this video. Both are lazy styles of thinking." Mark urges all his viewers to "stay curious and NEVER stop questioning things."  And with almost 60 million views on his channel, there’s a lot of thinking going on After Skool.

Mark is the master-mind behind the channel and the source of the questions behind each video. A favorite question of his was, "Why Don't Country Flags Use The Color Purple?” The question garnered 4 million video views in one day, and ultimately resulted in his children's book of the same name. Do you know why country flags don’t use purple? Think it over, then get the answer at the link below.

Give your brain a workout and discover ideas you've never encountered before on After Skool.









"Why Don't Country Flags Use The Color Purple?”



EP 198: Homework Help with Brainly

"No one knows everything, but everyone knows something." Brainly is the world's largest peer to peer homework platform, with 150 million global users per month, 16 million of whom are in the U.S. Huzefa talks with Eric Oldfield, the Chief Business Officer of Brainly, who joined Brainly after over 25 years of experience in the tech industry, previously working on Trulia and Zillow platforms to name just a few. 


What subjects can you get help with? The platform accepts any academic question, from any student, in any market. Currently operating in 35 countries, Brainly offers a place for students to tackle their homework problems together. With built in mechanisms to manage answer correctness and completeness, such as star ratings and the ability to report an answer that appears incorrect, students can have confidence when they turn to Brainly. "We are your smart friend that helps you with your homework," Eric perfectly sums up the role social learning network plays in the lives of students. 


Huzefa is one of many teachers who enjoys verifying answers on the platform. When a question reaches a high level of popularity, answers are double checked again, and any helpful diagrams or walk-thrus are added as well.  Listen to the full interview below and for students, parents and teachers looking to use Brainly, check out these links here:





iOS App:


Android App:


EP 197: Amplifying Science Education with Flinn Scientific

Flinn Scientific was started in 1977 by Larry Flinn, who put his career on the line to pursue his passion and help science educators across the nation. He recognized the need for improved products and safety methods for educators early on, and the company has been a go-to for classrooms ever since. An inspiring example of entrepreneurship, Flinn Scientific's unwavering commitment to safety and education set the foundation for it’s long-term success and ability to make the leap from physical educational products to the burgeoning world of EdTech. 

Tune in now to hear Huzefa interview Dave Larson, the Vice President of Product Management at Flinn Scientific, about the many innovative products Flinn Scientific offers across the STEM arena. From cloud-based chemical storage management solutions for science labs, to the new AP exam preparation apps for high-school students, FlinnPREP™, it seems like Flinn Scientific has a tool for pretty much everything STEM related. 

With an impressive list of products to build on, and a full in-house staff of scientists and former educators, the company continues to launch exciting and creative resources, one of the latest examples being 360Science™ labs, featuring a virtual reality component which let students experience what it’s like to be “inside the experiment.” Check it out at the link below and scroll down to hear the full interview now.











EP 196: Graphing Math Functions like a Legend with GeoGebra

Markus Hohenwarter is the founder of GeoGebra, a collection of engaging math apps that bring together algebra, geometry, and graphing, in one easy-to-use application. 

The GeoGebra math tools provide a visual way for students to learn math and science, from elementary school level through to college. The free tools include a scientific calculator, graphic calculator, and even a 3D calculator featuring augmented reality, allowing learners to see abstract math objects in the real-world... in their own virtual environment. The newest release also features an exam mode, which is being piloted right now, and which will hopefully be approved for use on the SAT and ACT tests in the near future. 

Staying true to their mission of making the technology available and accessible to everyone, the apps are completely free to download and available in over 60 languages! Listen now as Huzefa and Markus discuss how GeoGebra, initially created by Markus for his thesis project, has helped over 100 million students worldwide to date.












EP 195: Learning about Robotics and Programming with Sphero

A lot has changed since Adam Wilson, co-founder of Sphero, first became interested in Robotics. Inspired by the movie Short Circuit, Adam attempted to build his own robotics at the young age of 10, but it would take another decade, plus finding co-founder Ian Bernstein, before the two joined up to make the world of robotics, coding and programming both fun and accessible to everyone.  

Tune in to hear Huzefa and Adam discuss the endless learning opportunities Sphero offers. Their STEAM based tools are a hit in classrooms, where students can partake in a number of programming exercises, spanning topics from history to math. Rather than learning the Pythagorean Theorem on paper for example, Sphero teaches students in a more physically engaging way. By programming the math formula into their robot using code, students can watch in real-time as their robot drives itself to three points, forming a right triangle.

Robots range from the $49 Sphero Mini to the newest and most advanced, RVR priced at $249. Over the last few years, Sphero also launched a Computer Science curriculum so that coders and creators can take their robotics skills to the next level. It includes 24 lessons on computer science which can be applied to almost any type of automation one can imagine. The open API means that creators are only limited by their own coding skills and imagination. 

Adam and the team at Sphero receive an endless stream of feedback, from happy customers who never knew they were so tech-savvy until trying robotics and programming with Sphero. Learners of every age are using Sphero and anyone can get involved. Check out their community page, or join in the next Hackathon competition for a truly exciting learning experience!











EP 194: How Kids Gain Typing Mastery with TypeTastic

Typing is one of the fundamental education skills, and something that hasn't always been fun to learn. As typing is being taught to younger ages, the approach needed an update so students would stay engaged and find the lessons fun. 

TypeTastic zoned in on exactly how to make typing fun, and has "unleashed the joy of typing" on over 2 million students to date! Huzefa speaks with Sini Taskinen from Marketing at TypeTastic about how the software got its start, over 30 years ago on DOS, and what we can expect to see in the future. 

The Ed-Tech Digest Cool Tools Award Finalist offers over 700 free activities on their website. TypeTastic is primarily used in schools, but all materials can be accessed free of charge at the website listed below.