Congratulations to Dr. Terry Smith-Glaser of Novi, Michigan – and owner of IQ Science, LLC (iqsciencellc.com) for being chosen as our December Amber Grant winner! Terry’s business idea is simple but innovative. She performs assemblies that teach science to elementary school kids – engaging students in entertaining ways to learn science. Below is an interview with our latest winner. We hope you’ll be inspired!
WNN: Please tell us about IQ Science in a nutshell.
TSG: My business offers interactive science assemblies that combine “wow” moments with “a-ha” moments. I get kids excited about science, demonstrating fundamental principles in a fun and crazy, but clear and unthreatening manner.
WNN: What is your typical day like?
TSG: I might spend the day helping 3rd graders lift their teacher with a lever, or help 4th graders make rockets using water and Alka-seltzer. I might help 2nd graders construct rare and exotic jellybean fruits (a lesson in seed dispersal). Some days, I teach classes of young wizards to wield their wands (PVC pipe) in a game of steal-the-soda-can (a lesson in induced static electricity). On days when I’m not performing, I’m dreaming up more of these crazy activities: I design all of my programs myself, aligning them with grade level curriculum expectations, but ensuring that while scientifically rigorous, my shows remain fun.
WNN: Tell us how you started IQ Science.
TSG: I created IQ Science after four years of donating time at my children’s schools and other elementary schools in the district. I was performing assemblies for free that I created myself, developing new ones along the way. I saw a need for quality programs that could clearly explain and demonstrate science concepts to lower elementary students. I devised my first show, “What’s the Solution,” as a result of having my then- 2nd-grade daughter at home for half-day homeschooling. My daughter enjoyed the science activities so much, she asked me to bring them in to school to share with the kids she had class with in the mornings. The ball has been rolling ever since, with new ideas for shows springing up as my own children progress through the school system and ask for more information and more hands-on experiences.
WNN: You’re the first Amber Grant winner with a Ph.D. Can you tell us a bit about your background?
TSG: Sure. I earned my bachelor’s degree in Biology from Harvard University in 1989, and my Ph. D. in Ecology from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 1996. I taught courses in general biology, environmental science, applied entomology, and animal behavior as adjunct professor in the Biology Department at Regis University in Denver from 1995-1999. I feel privileged to be able to share both my scientific knowledge and my passion for science with young school-aged children through my business. I’m ready to expand beyond the local school districts, to try and share my lessons with more and more students.
WNN: Where is your business heading in 2013?
TSG: After three years in business, I’m realizing that growing this business is severely limited by my own finite energy levels – it just is not possible to perform that many dynamic programs day after day and maintain the exuberance necessary to infect the students with my passion for science. I’m ready to take my business a new step forward, which requires seeking additional capital to support this next phase. I have little capital from the business to re-invest and pursue this new goal, as I make it a point to provide these programs at the lowest possible cost to my local schools, leaving me with a fairly small profit margin, despite great job satisfaction.
WNN: What are your specific plans?
TSG: Well, I can only perform so many live shows per school year. Producing videos would allow me to reach even greater audiences, increasing my exposure to more students, teachers, and homeschoolers; anyone curious about science. As the new science core curriculum rolls out to school in the upcoming year or two, the need for assistance in implementing these goals will be crucial. Teachers are already overburdened with large class sizes, high administrative demands, and frequent lack of adequate STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) training. Under such situations, many classrooms are already set up to fail.
The Hands-free / Hands-on Science program I hope to launch would be an answer to those teachers’ problems. The video would provide background information on the core concepts while the teacher sets up the materials for the experiments. During the hands-on instructions, the teacher would be free to move about the classroom and help students having difficulty without slowing down the entire class. The teacher would have a hands-free solution to science instruction – no loss of prep time PLUS the freedom to interact with the students who need assistance. My live assembly programs already consist of many short activities and demonstration segments that could be adapted into video segments, easily illustrating important core curriculum concepts that are the foundation for understanding the science of the world around us.