Dr. Yen Verhoeven
Learning theorist, science education, instructional design, and the woman behind the curtain.
Special education and social media.
K-5 elementary teacher practices, ELL.
Dr. Marcy Berger
Professional development and early childhood.
STEM educator, makerspaces, and curriculum.
NGSS curriculum and instructional design.
Many people I know have traumatic memories of school — of sitting in uncomfortable desks for hours while a teacher tells you what to do and think. They may have felt inadequate, excluded, or bullied. Whether it was too boring, too stressful, or too exclusionary, school was a place where they felt that they didn’t belong, and that their teachers cared little about them as human beings. It is no wonder that people have negative feelings about school (and I won’t even get into how standardized testing can destroy one’s confidence, psyche, and well-being). Everyone knows that our education system is broken. Together, we have the solution to rebuild it.
Qi Learning was founded on April 5, 2018 with a mission to edvolutionize the way that we educate by empowering teachers with the tools to help people learn. Although we are a young company, I have spent a lifetime developing our company’s vision. When I was 17, I received a letter from the mom of a student that I tutored in math. She told me that my tutoring gave her son more confidence and motivation. The experience had completely changed her son’s outlook on school and on life. The letter surprised me because at the time, I was only tutoring for gas money and I didn’t realize just how much teaching can change someone’s life. That insight shaped my future and set me on a path to positively impact the world one person at a time, one class at a time. One candle can light the world when each of us nurtures and spreads the flame.
Qi Learning provides the spark, but teachers set the world on fire.
While most education companies and institutions focus on teaching or delivering content directly to children, we help teachers ignite the love of learning in their students by showing them ways to make STEM easy, engaging, and enjoyable. Teachers are highly-trained experts in education who are heart-centered, innovative, and passionate people. The fastest and greatest impact that we can have on education is through supporting our teachers to make their jobs easier, efficient, and effective. As a former teacher, I know that teaching is a tough, sometimes heart-wrenching job in (oftentimes) demoralizing conditions. As a society, it is our duty to help our teachers so that we can retain our most passionate and dedicated workforce. They literally hold the key to our future.
We are not alone in this mission. Within the same year that Qi Learning was founded, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation together with the MiSK Foundation awarded us with a Gates-MiSK Grand Challenges grant. Along with 14 other grantees, we were chosen out of 3000 entries. That grant fueled our work to create the STEAM Café platform, which provides community support, professional development, and free resources to K-6 teachers. The STEAM Café is a place where educators can go to empower themselves through STEM education by getting all the support they need to do their jobs.
We take a cross-curricular approach to STEM because life isn’t experienced in seven subjects. Life is a wonderful, complex, and multidimensional mess that needs to be experienced fully. By helping educators teach the processes of STEM in authentic and messy real-life contexts, we’re giving students opportunities to innovate, create, and develop the essential skills they need to accomplish their dreams. Our dedication toward equity and social justice means we take holistic approach to teaching the whole student so that they can share their amazing talents and abilities with the world.
Our mission goes far deeper than that, though. Now more than ever, we are living in an information society where everyone must have a firm foundation in STEM so that they can understand their world and make important decisions based off of those understandings. That’s why Qi Learning is about STEM for everyone.
I have been told by many people that what we are doing is downright impossible because the world is too big and people are set in their ways. My favorite response to them is by using a quote from Steve Jobs:
“The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.”
I am very grateful that our team, our partners, and our supporters are pretty crazy people. If you are an edvolutionary like we are, I invite you to join forces with us. It’ll be a wild ride, but I’m told that there’s cake at the end of the rabbit hole.
Thank you very much for visiting our website and for reading about our mission.
Yen C. Verhoeven
CEO and Founder
Qi Learning Research Group
The STEAM Café