EP 174: Teaching STEM Creatively at the Geek Group

The Geek Group’s primary goal is to provide people with easy access to an education based on science and technology, the chance to hone their skills and learn more about the world of STEM and programming, often in order to help them enter related fields. But the Geek Group’s programs, which are personalized based on the individual participant, are available to all ages and experience levels. They simply want to ensure that everyone who enters later emerges armed with new skills to help them achieve their own goals.

The Geek Group was born out of a goal to evaluate and service its participants’ needs on an individual level to ensure that everyone receives the education and skills that they require to find their own success. The law of large numbers guides this principle — whether Geek Group is helping someone learn to use a computer or offering months of work experience, in the end, the time and effort put into each case averages out. This way, they can help more people achieve their goals through flexible programs that cater directly to them.


The Geek Group focuses on “community, access, and enjoyment.” They aim to create a community of participants and volunteers that help people achieve their goals regardless of age or experience. And most importantly, they want their education to be fun, something more than just a path to a job — learning is “a life-long journey.”


The company also has a program called Open Doors for Teens, an education program for students that offers a full-time school as well as other types of programming, often used with home schooling. They also help provide computers and other types of modern essential technology to families who need it, based on the idea that “technology at home is mandatory” in today’s technologically driven society.


The Geek Group’s educators are primarily volunteers and experts in their fields, which allow the programs to be so successful. Industry professionals can choose how much time they wish to dedicate.


The Geek Group also runs a YouTube channel boasting nearly 100,000 subscribers. The channel features videos on a variety of topics including how toy manufacturers incorrectly represent dinosaurs and a popular playlist called “Equipment Autopsies.” The videos also aim to be educational, informative, and interesting, with different videos catering to audiences of all ages.


To learn more about Geek Group, check out their channel at https://www.youtube.com/user/thegeekgroup and their website at www.thegeekgroup.org. To hear the full interview with Executive Director Lis Bokt, listen to the full podcast below.

EP 173: New York Teacher Shares his Passion for Math Rap Education

Seven years ago, Mike Andrejkovics wrote the first rap he ever performed to his students. Since then, this has evolved into a long-standing tradition, where Mr. A writes a rap and performs an accompanying music video to the school where he teaches in Long Island, New York.

His raps are less about specific topics and more about his own appreciation for math. It began as a way to motivate his students to do the same and engage in math by writing music about it. Each year, a handful of his students write and perform their own music videos and song parodies.

His raps are often parodies of popular songs — for example, “The Real Math Students” in place of “The Real Slim Shady.” Other raps include “The Next Episode (Do Math Everyday),” “Learning Mathematics,” and “Math Workshop,” among others. He often performs his raps live at various conferences.

He also has a podcast on iTunes called “Mr. A’s Math Podcast,” which consists of videos that explain complicated math topics and is aimed at students.

To learn more about Mr. A, check out his YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCOIwfj9KJRGbIz5WQApS4fg and listen to the full podcast interview below.  

EP 172: Making Learning Dynamic, Collaborative, and Fun with Kahoot!

In 2013, a revolution in learning began. At the 3rd annual SXSWedu conference, a small audience was introduced to a way of learning that would eventually sweep the planet. An imaginative and creative platform was born, one that had been designed to allow students a plethora of ways to collaborate, learn, test, and understand concepts across the learning spectrum. This revolution in learning was called Kahoot!

Kahoot! had the potential to be massive from the get go, and has proved that it indeed contains the secret sauce for mass appeal and great success. In 2017, Kahoot reached over 1 billion participants, an incredibly massive milestone in the world of edtech.

Kahoot was founded by Johan Brand, Jamie Brooker, and Morten Versvik. This powerful triumvirate envisioned an online learning space where students could participate in the quiz and test making process. This ingenious spin on standard education has had a tremendous impact on learning standards worldwide. Students use the platform both as a way to refine understanding as well as prepare for in-class evaluations.

On this episode, I interview the CEO of Kahoot!, Asmund Furuseth. He shares with us the amazing journey of Kahoot! from inception to its overwhelming popularity today. He even discusses the exciting future for Kahoot, and most importantly, how it can be used effectively in all schools to further education. To learn more about Kahoot!, go to http://kahoot.com/. To listen to the full podcast episode, click below.

EP 171: Jay Foreman on Teaching through Comedy

Comedy and education don’t often mix, but when they do, it can make for some of the most effective learning. This is what Jay Foreman, a British singer-songwriter, set out to do with his work.

His YouTube channel features most of his songs and videos, which can focus on politics or infrastructure or random songs that he performs for kids. One of his more popular playlists is “Politics Unboringed,” where he explains a variety of topics such as the inner functions of British democracy, how to decide who to vote for in elections, and why in some cases, voting is not necessarily the best choice. “Unfinished London” is another playlist of four videos explaining how London was so poorly planned, from motorways to airports to the Northern line.

Now with over 280,000 subscribers, Jay regularly posts updates to his channel. His videos aim to be both comedic and informative, and this is especially true with his videos aimed at a younger audience. He went on a United Kingdom tour recently to showcase his “Disgusting Songs for Revolting Children.” Some popular songs are more comedic, such as “Caterpillar Sick,” a song that goes into some detail about a car running on just that. The album also features tracks such as “No More Colours?” and “Stealing Food.”

However, he also writes and performs songs not targeted at children. One of his videos, “Singing one Syllable Out-of-Sync,” attracted over four million views, where he did exactly what it sounds like — he sang a single syllable of a song in the wrong place.

Many of his videos cover informative topics, such as tactical voting and the India-Bangladesh border. But even these are presented in a way that’s comedic while still being informative, with Jay and a friend, dubbed the Map Men, explain the geography and politics behind it.

Jay’s career as a comedy singer includes four sold-out shows at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and various honors at musical comedy awards.

To learn more about Jay, check out his channel at https://www.youtube.com/user/jayforeman51/ and listen to the full podcast interview below.

EP 170: Connecting Students with Tutors via Tutor Ocean

The struggle of finding a competent tutor for their children is one that is all too familiar to parents — sorting through slews of tutor listings that often don’t work out. TutorOcean is a company that aims to make that process easier by providing a network of tutors in every subject imaginable so that students can find a tutor that works to their individual needs.

The company was founded by Will Li, who transitioned from a full time acrobatics academy to a regular school at age 13 with the help of tutoring. His own experience with talented tutors made him pursue a similar career in college, where he realized how difficult it can be to find an effective tutor. This prompted him to found TutorOcean, where students and tutors can connect easily and form meaningful relationships.

TutorOcean offers tutoring appointments both online and in person. The virtual sessions are available on-demand from a pool of experts worldwide, with sessions featuring an interactive whiteboard, video chat, and the ability to record sessions so students can go back and re-learn any content they continue to struggle with. The in-person sessions are set up in advance and allow for easier communication and hands-on practice with any subject matter.

The company has tutors across the globe and from multiple universities, from Calgary to London and everywhere in between. They become tutors by signing up on the website and filling out their education and work experience, at which point the profiles are reviewed by TutorOcean and approved for service. The rates vary for each tutor. These tutors specialize in subjects ranging from accounting to MCAT prep to Chinese, meaning TutorOcean is a service for elementary school kids and medical students alike.

To learn more about TutorOcean, visit their website at www.tutorocean.com and listen to the full podcast interview with Joanna Huang below.

EP 169: Coding Made fun with Emojis

Coding can be viewed as esoteric, confusing, and definitely not for kids. But with Codemoji, this generally accepted view of computer science as complicated and dense is entirely upended. Their goal is to teach kids how to code from as young as first grade to create a properly educated generation armed with a skill set that will only benefit them in an increasingly technological world.

Part of the problem with teaching coding is that there is no room for error; even the slightest syntax mistake such as a comma instead of a semicolon will cause the entire code to malfunction. But Codemoji’s goal is to eliminate that hurdle so that syntax isn’t stopping kids from learning to code.

The curriculum aims to teach students from first to eighth grade the basics of coding in several different languages such as HTML, CSS, and Javascript. This also includes web development to allow kids to design their own websites and animations using the coding skills that they have learned. The platform is adaptive and challenging, allowing each student to go through lessons at their own pace and only move on once they truly understand the skills they are learning.

By teaching how to code from a young age, students are much more well-equipped to enter a workforce in a world which is largely based on computers. This is especially true when they’re actually learning and absorbing the content, which Codemoji ensures by making their curriculum entertaining with a special focus on applying the concepts creatively.

Enthusiasm is key to comprehension, especially at such a young age and with such a notoriously difficult subject. Codemoji allows kids to “learn, code, and build” creatively from the beginning, developing a love for computer science among the next generation to work in that field.

To learn more about Codemoji, we spoke to co-founder Livio Bolzon. To listen to the interview yourself, check out the podcast below and visit Codemoji’s website at www.codemoji.com

EP 168: Creating a Popular Kids Show with Blippi TV

The character Blippi began in 2014 as the brainchild of Stevin John, who would later go on to play the character himself. He wanted to make early learning more than just dull memorization and repetition and instead associate it with “positive emotions and memories.” And since then, countless young children have been learning shapes, letters, numbers, and colors through Stevin’s show, which features him clad in orange and blue as the lovable Blippi.

The videos consist of nursery rhymes and educational songs complete with colorful characters and animations to hold children’s attention — things such as construction vehicles, animals, and more.  This is all blended with real life footage of Stevin as Blippi.

But Stevin wasn’t always set on being a YouTuber for kids. Before starting his channel, he followed a few different career paths, ranging from washing dishes to serving in the Air Force. But in the end, he found his calling as Blippi, where he can encourage kids to learn and grow through songs and videos.

Originally, Blippi was a solo project, but creating the show and its accompanying merchandise (shirts, books, dolls, and more) now takes a team of managers, cameramen, and animators. The team is also working on a live show along with episodes available on Amazon.

With 1.9 million subscribers and a cumulative 1.6 billion views on his videos, Stevin has amassed a loyal following of fans in nearly 140 countries. The show is also available in Spanish and German, with corresponding YouTube channels for each.

To learn more about Blippi, visit his channel at www.youtube.com/user/BlippiVideos/featured or his website at www.blippi.com. To listen to the full interview with Stevin, check out the podcast below.

EP 167: Physics Girl on How to Make Impactful Science Content

The popular YouTube channel Physics Girl began as a fun personal project for Dianna Cowern, who simply wanted to spread her love of physics after college. But it quickly grew into much more — today, it has close to a million followers as a channel that advocates for women in STEM and serves as a resource for teachers and students alike.

Dianna has done research at MIT and the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, looking into dark matter and low-metallicity stars, as well as worked for GE designing software apps. She now works at UCSD as a science outreach coordinator. Her channel is also sponsored by PBS Digital Studios.

The Physics Girl channel features demonstrations, interviews, research, and all things physics- and science-related. Her most popular videos have millions of views, focusing on topics such as how to make a cloud in your mouth or what causes certain optical illusions. But her videos can range in subject matter to pretty much anything, as long as she’s explaining the world through science and physics.

Dianna’s work revolves around more than just making videos — Dianna also wants to encourage more women to pursue careers in STEM. By representing female physicists on the Internet and to such a wide audience, she can begin to normalize the idea of girls entering these typically male-dominated fields.

To watch Dianna’s videos, view her channel at www.youtube.com/channel/UC7DdEm33SyaTDtWYGO2CwdA or check out her website at www.physicsgirl.org. To hear the full interview, listen to the podcast below.  

EP 166: Mother Goose Club - Making Learning Fun with Music, Colors, and Characters

Preschool is one of the most important time in a child’s learning development. Sockeye Media’s Mother Goose Club has reinvented the world of early learning by bringing characters to life through nursery rhymes and live action filming. The content is predominantly aimed at young children, with the goal being to develop reading skills and literacy from a young age.

The six characters that star in these videos and songs are Baa Baa Sheep, Eep the Mouse, Little Bo Peep, Jack B. Nimble, Mary Quite Contrary, and Teddy Bear. These characters “inspire viewers to interact with rhymes” through memorable lyrics, engaging plot lines, and choreographed dances. The videos foster a love of learning from the beginning, letting kids go on to be successful in primary and secondary school with a strong foundation in vocabulary and reading skills.

The Mother Goose Club YouTube channel now has over 4.7 million subscribers, with sister channel Mother Goose Club Playhouse at 3.1 million subscribers. The videos have amassed billions of views since the channel’s founding. The show is also available on Netflix and local PBS stations, boasting four Midsouth Emmy awards, 19 nominations, and 12 other industry awards.

The website has over 90 rhymes in videos and songs. It also provides resources for teachers and parents such as lyrics, coloring pages, activity plans, and other tips.

Building literacy from a young age is essential to educational success later in school. Sockeye Media and Mother Goose Club ensure just that.

To learn more about Mother Goose Club, check out their website at https://www.mothergooseclub.com/ or their channel at https://www.youtube.com/user/MotherGooseClub/featured. A few more key links are as follows:

Mother Goose Club Playhouse channel:  https://www.youtube.com/user/SockeyeMedia

Mother Goose Club Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/mothergooseclub/

App Store:  https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/mother-goose-club-rhymes/id1146875428?mt=8

Google Play:  https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.storytoys.mothergooseclub.free.android.googleplay&hl=en_US

Favorite Nursery Rhymes:  https://amzn.to/2HwYOlB

Hello, Hello, Alphabet Train:  https://amzn.to/2J306Sl

To hear the full interview with CEO Harry Jho and CCO Sona, listen to the podcast below.

EP 165: Math and Music Together Again with Numberock

It all began when Ben Hehn, an elementary school teacher, brought his guitar to school one day to sing a song about long division to his students. They were interested, both by the song and the animations that accompanied it. This became the founding spark for NUMBEROCK, a YouTube channel that specializes in animated math-themed songs for students in kindergarten through sixth grade.

The goal was to create catchy songs that students would remember and use both inside and outside of the classroom. Few children willingly discuss math equations for fun if they’re not forced to in class, but singing songs about them is an entirely different story. Ben had several parents tell him that their kids were singing his songs wherever they went, allowing them to absorb and process new math concepts while having fun.

His channel now has over 50,000 subscribers and over 80 videos, most of which focus on math concepts, but some of which veer into other areas, such as U.S. presidents or counting in different languages. Each video is a song complete with animated characters ranging from Australian alligators to cartoon kids. Every video typically comes with a lesson plan for teachers to utilize.

The videos all focus on specific math concepts, which are the primary focus of the songs. Sillier aspects are added in to keep students’ attention while still being informative and educational. Many of Ben’s videos are free, but his entire library of videos, lesson plans, and other materials can be accessed through a paid subscription.

To learn more about NUMBEROCK, visit Ben’s website at www.numberock.com or check out his channel at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCt9SZgFExNwWTH5T_JnyF-A. To hear the full interview, listen to the podcast below!