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STEMChat: How One Science-Focused Franchise Teaches, Engages Students

STEMChat: How One Science-Focused Franchise Teaches Children Science During the STEM Obsession



Since its creation by founder Santiago Martin in 1996, the Nutty Scientists children’s learning center has rapidly expanded across the United States and beyond--thanks in part to a rapid increase in global interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) learning.

Education World spoke with Sr. Vice President Shery Christopher about how Nutty Scientists provides the world’s youngest learners with a global scientific perspective throughout the STEM craze.

For those unfamiliar, Nutty Scientists is a children’s learning center that has franchises in over 40 countries and reaches over 7 million children per year through after school, in school, camp and party activities.

It belongs to the USA National Science Teachers Association, is aligned with the Next Generation of Science Standards, and has a network of prestigious Yale and Oxford science professors helping out.

So how does Nutty Scientists help children best understand science concepts?

Innovative Methodology Results in Teaching Approaches for All Children 

For one, Christopher discussed the three different methodologies it uses to teach science to children to provide some insight into how it benefits all learners: 

  • TPR, or the Total Physical Response method, is based on the coordination of language and movement. What it is innovative is that Nutty Scientists is the first one to use this methodology for learning science.
  • SDAIE, or Specifically Designed Academic Instruction in English, is a teaching approach intended for teaching various academic content (such as social studies, science or literature) using the English language to students who are still learning English.
  • PQS, or the Plonsky Question System, is a unique proprietary methodology technique that allows us to work with HQ children as well as with children with learning disabilities making sure all correctly follow the path towards achieving the learning objectives of each Nutty Scientists activity.

Emphasis on Climate Change Science Teaches Principles Agreed On By Scientific Community 

Nutty Scientists also is committed to teaching students about the correct science behind climate change, which recent studies have confirmed is not being taught appropriately in all schools.

Nutty Scientists has "activities that will create awareness among students about the impact of global warming and instructs them as to how to contribute to lessen the effect of climate change,” Christopher said.

"We want them to understand what these climate changes are and how the outcome of these changes is largely due to the activities of man, to know which gases cause global warming, to be able to detect what human activities generate pollution and emissions that cause these alterations in the climate, to understand the consequences of global warming at the poles, and to learn what they can do individually to ensure sustainable development and not contribute to global warming.”

Getting Children Started in Science Early Helps More Students Be Proficient 

Aside from inconsistent teachings of climate change science across the country, U.S. students are generally struggling with science as a whole.

“...a recent Department of Education study reveals that approximately two-thirds of fourth-graders and four-fifths of high-school seniors in the U.S. fail to reach proficiency levels in science,” Christopher pointed out.

"This makes learning STEM subjects at an early age all the more important to ensure that children are provided with an early understanding of the sciences in order to succeed, and Nutty Scientists aims to spark that early interest by making science fun and enjoyable to learn.”

Nutty Scientists, Christopher said, has proven to live up to Martin's dreams of making "a true impact on the way children learn and to create a career that was worth having for him and the franchisees."


Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor


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