Instructor Bios

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Instructor Bios 2017-09-13T01:12:15+00:00

 

What kind of instructors are we putting in the classroom with your children? Amazing adults, many of whom have multiple degrees, languages and/or children of their own. Why would they work for us? Because we’re a great, flexible place to work and we pay and perk better than anyone similar  organization.  Yes, all of our instructors have been fingerprinted and have passed a background check. They’re all certified in First Aid and many are also certified in CPR! Ask about our classes and parties in other languages …

Learn more about our background checks and other steps we take to keep your children safe.

 

Let’s start with the guy who trains the rest of us …

 

Will H.

will-n-son-v.2Will is our director of curriculum and teacher training. He spent much of his childhood in Okinawa before moving here. He has been known to speak Japanese in his sleep. After getting his degree in electrical engineering, he spent seven years working for the defense industry before deciding to become a teacher. He taught math and later, principles of engineering for five years in D.C. public high schools –  until 2010, when he decided that he um… needed a break from the adventures of DCPS.

Will designed several of our courses, including Robo Challenge, Electronics, Video Game Programming, Mindstorms, Raspberry Pi Programming and Young Engineers, which he especially likes because, seriously … how many people get  paid to teach kids how to build catapults and then use them to lob water balloons?

Will vets most of our new hires. We make a point of getting our instructors to teach alongside Will  to get an idea of how a seasoned enthusiastic teacher can fire up his students!

All of our instructors get rave reviews, but Will seems to get quite a few. Let us know if he’s been bribing you to send them. Like this comment, from a parent of a child in one of his electronics classes:

Will is phenomenal, and all that I spoke with from his class agree. He has single-handedly given quite a few students, including a notable number of girls, a great interest in the science, math, engineering and technology fields. He connects with the kids, explains difficult concepts with ease, and has a passion for the material that is contagious. I cannot say enough good things about him.

When Will’s not working for us you can find him learning how to be a work-at-home dad for his preschool-age son! When he’s not suffering from sleep deprivation, you may also find him on his bike (mostly dirt jumping and down-hilling, which he does with a full helmet), recovering from his various mtb injuries, playing with his German Shepherds (both acquired from a rescue group) or cooking all kinds of food! He may be the only guy we know who is married to a vegetarian, enjoys cooking vegetarian … and yet can butcher a pig and talk enthusiastically about how to cook all the parts.

M.A. in Secondary Education, American University; B.S. Electrical Engineering, George Mason University.
Classes: Intro to/ an Lego Robotics, Robo Challenge, Mindstorms, Young Engineers, Electronics, Intro to/ and Video Game Programming

 

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Brenda

BrendaBrenda is a fifth grade science teacher for Prince George’s County Public schools. She’s taking classes to implement a new science curriculum, “Next Generation Science.” She’s also her schools STEM Fair coordinator. This is Brenda’s 29th year as an educator in public schools!

When she’s not planning her next STEM investigations, Brenda enjoys traveling,reading, dancing and spending time with her granddaughter.

Master of Education in Education Administration,  Grand Canyon University; B.A. Early Childhood Education, North Carolina Central University.
Classes: Lego Robotics, Robo Challenge, Lego Engineers, Storybook Science, Intro to Video Game Programming


 

Fedor

Fedor, instructor for The Great Adventure LabFedor was in the middle of getting his Computer Science degree when he decided to switch paths in favor of secondary education. He has a lot of experience with kids, including having worked at an outdoor adventure camp for the last five years. No wonder he’s so great with even the bounciest kids in our classes!

When he is not studying or teaching, Fedor enjoys playing guitar and hiking. He also loves kayaking, skiing, climbing, ballroom dancing, knitting, kung fu and reading (though not all of those at the same time). He is especially fond of Russian classics and would loves to discuss Tolstoy or Dostoevski.

Education: expected degree in Secondary Education, 2018
Classes: Lego Robotics, Robo Challenge, Mindstorms, Video Game Programming, Young Engineers, Storybook Science
Fluent in: Russian

 


 

Hardeep

hardeep-bio-picHardeep is a medical doctor working towards his residency match. When he is not reading about medicine, he likes to think about philosophy, and contemplate the larger questions of life, like what constitutes “a good life?”

At the moment, Hardeep’s good life includes teaching for us! In his spare time, he likes to meditate, play chess and play sports! (He played on his high school varsity basketball and tennis teams).

M.D., University of Windsor School of Medicine, Federation of St. Christopher and Nevis M.D., University of Windsor School of Medicine, Federation of St. Christopher and Nevis

Classes: Lego Robotics, Robo Challenge, Video Game Programming Classes: Lego Robotics, Robo Challenge, Video Game Programming

Parties: Lego Robotics, Robo Challenge
 


 

Javon

javonJavon was born in Brooklyn, grew up in Dallas and then moved to DC to attend Howard University. She’s spent over seven years now teaching business education in Anne Arundel County Public Schools, and before that, technology for D.C. Public charter schools.

javon-snorkel

Seeing as she’s a native New Yorker, she’s a diehard NY Giants, Yankees and Knicks fan! … She doesn’t just watch sports though — she played soccer for eight years, including on the founding women’s soccer team at Howard. She also coached soccer for a few years.

When Javon’s not teaching, she likes spending time with books, movies … or traveling to the islands! (favorite destination: Puerto Rico).

M.A., Technology in Education, Teachers College, Columbia University; B.B.A., Hospitality Management, Howard University
Classes: Lego Robotics,  Storybook Science, Young Engineers

 

 


 

Laura

Laura is our Summer Camp Program Director and Events Coordinator. In fall of 2011 she launched our new  Girls Get Science evenings, which feature hands-on activities for girls and panels of women scientists and engineers. Our first event sold out in just a few days! Look for our next Girls Get Science event this fall!

A former adjunct professor of American Government, Laura has published and presented on several topics including  immigrant contributions to California and the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Laura developed our new Storybook Science class and, since she’s a homeschooler herself, she is our chief liaison with homeschoolers. When she’s not picking up Legos, chasing chickens or teaching classes for The GrAd Lab, she works as the finance director of a small non-profit, Tall Oaks Waldorf Network, which she co-founded with several other homeschooling parents.

Laura has logged time in many venues including San Francisco’s tenderloin neighborhood and a western dudette ranch (run by women).  Nowadays she lives a more suburban life with her three children and a medium-sized menagerie near Silver Spring’s Four Corners neighborhood. And yes – she’s one of Montgomery County’s backyard chicken people!

Ph.D. Political Science, Claremont Graduate University; M.A. Political Science, Claremont Graduate University, Political Science; B.A., International Relations, Stanford University.
Classes: Lego Robotics, Robo Challenge, Video Game Programming, Intro to Video Game Programming, Storybook Science, Early Engineers, Let’s Roll Engineers, Young Engineers, Space Engineers, Electronics, Storybook Legos, 3-D Design.

Parties: Lego Robotics, Robo Challenge, Storybook Science
Fluent in: French.

 


 

        Luis


luis-bio-pic-classLuis
calls himself a card carrying “Lego Maniac” who grew up wanting to invent things. Now he’s living that dream as the founder of Cirkuitz Limited, a maker of programmable eyewear that can display text, images and animations across the front of the eyewear. Hats off to Luis for bootstrapping his company; The Great Adventure Lab was bootstrapped, too!

Luis taught himself to program in seventh grade, and among other things, once programmed a robot to play dominoes, and once modified a battery-powered toy car so it could be operated by a child with cerebral palsy, using remote control. On his way to earning two engineering degrees, he joined collegiate teams in robotic soccer, robotic fighting (Rumblebots!) and Formula SAE, aluis-car student-design competition to build race cars. He went on to restore his own 1978 Chevy Nova! After college he worked in the Congo for an oil company (and learned a bit of French) and later, as a patent examiner for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

When he’s not inventing, bootstrapping or teaching for us, Luis likes to dance!

M.S., Mechanical Engineering, University of Wisconsin, Madison; B.S., Mechanical Engineering, University of Puerto Rico, – Mayagüez.
Classes: Intro to Lego Robotics, Lego Robotics, Robo Challenge, Lego Engineers, Electronics, Intro to Video Game Programming
Parties: Lego Robotics, Robo Challenge
Fluent in: Spanish

 


 

Mark

mark.bioA former political scientist who specialized in decision-making behavior and time-series studies,  Mark has taught students in high schools, colleges, senior centers, and … Texas prisons!  He worked as a cowboy, a highway construction worker, a barista, and once flipped burgers for a day.  Mark was a US Swimming referee for a decade. As for his STEM-specific credentials, he takes great pride in having owned the 10th Macintosh computer on the Rice University campus in 1984.

Mark lives in Bethesda with his wife and recent college graduate daughter. In addition to teaching for us, he volunteers at the Elephant Trails exhibit at The Smithsonian’s National Zoo. Wait, there’s more: he is also a struggling yogi and potter of questionable skill.

Ph.D. Political Science, Rice University;  M.A. Political Science, Rice University; M.A. Government, Sam Houston State University; B.A. English/Government, Sam Houston State University.
Classes: Lego Robotics, Robo Challenge, Young Engineers, Space Engineers, Intro to Video Game Programming
Fluent in: Texan

 


 

Mary

Mary teaches Lego Robotics and other STEM classes for The Great Adventure Lab near DC

Mary has one of our favorite educational backgrounds. She started college as a computer science major and switched to elementary education . She’s been teaching math for 18 years now, and she must have been fabulous, because she was one of the teachers of another one of our favorite instructors, Elvin!

These days, Mary teaches geometry and computer programming to high school students. She’s been programming since the days of the Commodore 64! She’s also led a lot of fun science projects, including designing helmets as part of lessons she provided at the Bueller Space Center. Oh, and in case that’s not enough, she’s a major softball player, has coached varsity soccer and softball and somehow finds time to be a wife and mom of a beautiful little girl … Never a dull moment!

B.S. Education, Bonaventure University, Bonaventure, NY.

Classes: Intro to Lego Robotics, Lego Robotics, Robo Challenge, Video Game Programming, Storybook Science

 


 

Natalia

The Great Adventure Lab instructor Natalia poses with Einstein.

Natalia teaches Lego Robotics and Robo Challenge for The Great Adventure Lab.

Natalia is a Russian-born physicist (who once taught ten classes a week for us, including three in Russian!)

She has taught math, logic and physics in Russia, and was also a lecturer in Physics at the Kazan School of Ballet in Kazan, which is the capital of the Republic of Tatarstan, and also the eighth largest city in Russia. No wonder those Russian ballet dancers are so great – they study physics!

After earning degrees in physics in Russia, she worked for four years researching molecular dynamics at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. She was partway through her PhD in physics when she gave birth to her daughter and put that on hold.

When we found Natalia, she was already addicted to Scratch, which we teach in our Video Game Programming class. She is a fan of puzzle books by Raymond Smullyan, Martin Gardner and Lewis Carroll, and has a great collection of board games. She likes all kinds of crafting, including sewing, knitting, crocheting, beading, polymer clay and more!

Here in the U.S., Natalia teaches craft classes, host of a needlework circle, board game nights, math circle, Russian story time and other fun activities at local community club.

Natalia is a manager of one of the largest Maryland center for Math Kangaroo Olympiad (this annual competition is held in March and open to everyone). She is a coach of First Lego League team “Seven Wonders” – this season the team was qualified for the State Championship!

Need a Russian-language Robotics class? Natalia can do that!

M.S. summa cum laude in Physics of Atoms and Molecules and B.S. summa cum laude in Physics (Optics and Spectroscopy), both from Kazan State University, Russia.
Classes: Lego Robotics, Robo Challenge, Mindstorms
Fluent in: Russian.

 


Robert

robert-bio-picRob put together his first gas grill at the age of nine which kick-started his lifelong passion for constructing. Just in time for the holidays, he assembled a 15-foot trampoline and a portable full size basketball hoop for neighbors.

Once upon a time, he worked in telecom and computers as a consultant to the United States Air Force. Then he got his MBA and founded DependableDAD.com, where he helps customers reorganize their lives from their  basements to their finances. He is known for turning “piles into files”! He’s also a master of demystifying technology.

Rob lives in Chevy Chase with his wife, son and daughter. When he’s not fixing something, he lives to run, ride and swim. And as you can see from the pic, this man can follow a map.

MBA., Johns Hopkins University, BBA, University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
Classes: Intro to Lego Robotics, Lego Robotics,  Robo Challenge, Lego Engineers, Electronics, Video Game Programming

Parties: Lego Robotics, Robo Challenge, Mindstorms, Crime Scene

 


 

Shannan

Shannan works by day as a fourth-grade math teacher. She has the kind of background we love: she started out as a civil engineering major, but then switched to human development because she wants to work with kids while indulging her love for all things math, science and engineering-related.
Shannan wins our heroic commuter prize hands-down. She lives in Westminster, Md., about two inches from the Pennsylvania border, and teaches for us in eastern Montgomery County after school, on her way home from her full-time job in PG County.
When she’s not driving all over the mid-Atlantic to inspire the next generation of STEM students … she plays co-ed softball. Before that, she says she spent her whole life playing field hockey …
Master of Education, Counselor Education, Virginia Commonwealth University and B.S, Human Development, both from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Classes: Lego Robotics, Robo Challenge, Video Game Programming, Young Engineers
Parties: Lego Robotics, Robo Challenge Parties: Lego Robotics, Robo Challenge