Pictured: Qi Learning Research Group Founder and CEO Dr. Yen Verhoeven delivering one of three inquiry-based STEM workshops during the Oct. 7 Iowa Science Teaching Section Fall Conference in Ankeny. (Photo credit: M2J Design, LLC)

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

ANKENY, Iowa (Oct. 9, 2019) – The Iowa State University Startup Factory today announced that cohort five team Qi Learning Research Group attended the 2019 Iowa Science Teaching Section (ISTS) Fall Conference, held October 7 at the FFA Enrichment Center, Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) Campus in Ankeny.

Qi Learning Research Group is developing strategic literacy-based resources for K-12 teachers to implement engaging labs for students in an effort to construct a STEM pipeline from kindergarten to college and beyond.

Workshop attendees construct Gummy Bear catapults as part of a hands-on learning exercise during the Oct. 7 Iowa Science Teaching Section Fall Conference. (Photo credit: M2J Design, LLC)

As part of the ISTS-presented conference schedule, Qi Learning Research Group Founder and CEO Dr. Yen Verhoeven hosted three morning breakout sessions titled, “Inquiry, Engineering Practices, & Equitable Sense-making with Gummy Bear Catapults,” “Cross-curricular Inquiry Cubes as Phenomena to Ignite Curiosity,” and “Mythbusting Labs that Demonstrate the Nature of Science.”

“The purpose of these workshops was to give teachers easy, tangible, hands-on labs and activities that encourage critical thinking and 21st century skills,” Verhoeven said. “While all labs may look the same on the outside, my workshops focused on bringing authentic science experiences into the classroom in ways that empower students to be innovative and critical consumers of knowledge.”

The ISTS conference booklet quoted Chair and Conference Chair Jesse Wilcox stating 2019’s theme, Igniting the Passion for Science, was selected “to pay tribute to the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11” and serve as a reminder of the important roles teachers have in “igniting passion for science” in K through college students.

“I love this year’s conference theme, and completely agree with the sentiment,” Verhoeven said. “At Qi Learning Research Group, we believe that every child has the potential to be the next Einstein, Rosalind Franklin or Alexander Fleming. They just need a spark to light the world with their brilliance, and teachers are key to this. My dream is that through Qi Learning’s platform and work, we can help spark and fan those flames.”

According to Verhoeven, the United States faces a big problem regarding the STEM workforce pipeline. Three out of five of fourth graders are testing below proficiency in math and science (PISA 2015 Results), and yet, by 2020, over 77% of the workforce will need STEM skills.

Qi Learning Research Group was started in April 2018 as a digital platform to address this gap through teaching and growing a professional community of elementary school teachers who share ideas, mentor each other, and teach STEM.

In 2018, the startup received a $100,000 Phase I Misk Grand Challenges grant, a collaboration between the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Misk Foundation, to develop its digital platform.

The platform is twofold: it serves as a sort of networking stage for teachers to talk about science and discuss what they are doing in class, as well as a place to offer vetted content aligned to curriculum standards.

Using mini-courses, workshops, evaluation, consulting, and diverse partnerships, Qi Learning Research Group does the translational work of helping people understand the processes involved in teaching and learning STEM, and helps teachers save time and energy when they are developing their curricula.

In Iowa, elementary teachers receive a daily 15 minutes allocation for STEM, and Verhoeven wants to make that time count.

“Cross-curricular Inquiry Cubes” provide the basis of an inquiry-based science experience during one of Verhoeven’s workshops. (Photo credit: M2J Design, LLC)

“The workshops provided an opportunity to show teachers some of our inquiry-based, student-driven authentic investigations.” Verhoeven said. “With the right resources and support, teachers can bring STEM to their classrooms in fun and meaningful ways without breaking the school budget. All the content from these workshops is freely available to attendees through our STEAM Café platform.

“The STEAM Café platform acts like a hub where teachers can go to find resources, online professional development classes, articles on teaching STEM, our content creation partners, and our community,” Verhoeven said. “Our resources are vetted and curated by our team, and we provide guidelines and rubrics to help people assess the viability of the information available on the Internet.”

Verhoeven says the lessons can be used to teach 21st century skills that align with the Next Generation Science Standards. “The curriculum we offer focuses on how we organically learn STEM—moving away from fact-based teaching toward teaching practices that emphasize 21st century skills and critical thinking,” she said.

“We were very excited to share some of our ideas with ISTS conference attendees, and we invite them and others to join our STEAM Café community group, take one of our online courses, and connect with us for future collaborations.”

Qi Learning Research Group is a cohort five member of the ISU Startup Factory, a 52-week intensive program housed at the ISU Research Park. As a member of the program, the company received formal training through a curriculum centered on business validation, customized mentoring, resources, and access to a network of business mentors, advisors, counselors, and investors.

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About Qi Learning Research Group
Qi Learning Research Group LLC, founded in 2018 by Dr. Yen Verhoeven, specializes in bringing STEM to educators through labs, consulting, workshops, supportive networks, and other resources. The company is driven by the belief that education is the key to breaking down barriers, empowering people, and evolving the world. Using mini-courses, workshops, evaluation, consulting, and partnerships, Qi Learning does the translational work of helping people understand the processes involved in teaching and learning STEM. For more information regarding Qi Learning Research Group, call (443) 340-6962 or visit qilearning.com

About ISU Startup Factory
The Iowa State University (ISU) Startup Factory is a 52-week intensive program housed at the ISU Research Park (ISURP). Entrepreneurs in the Startup Factory receive formal training, resources, and access to a network of business mentors, advisors, counselors, and investors in two 26-week blocks: the first a formal curriculum centered on business validation, and the second, customized to their individual business needs. For more information on the ISU Startup Factory program, call 515-294-7444 or visit isustartupfactory.org.

About ISU Research Park
Establish in 1987, The Iowa State University Research Park (ISURP) is a real estate development community closely affiliated with Iowa State University. ISURP assists both established and startup companies in connecting with Iowa State’s vast infrastructure to grow their enterprises; whether through students, research entities, equipment or a multitude of other resources. ISURP is currently home to 96 companies and research centers and 10 affiliates, employing 2,253 and 89 people, respectively, and occupies approximately 800,000 square feet of commercial real estate on 400 acres. For more information on ISURP, call 515.296.4204 or visit isupark.org.

Contact:
Julie Lelonek, Office of Economic Development and Industry Relations Communications
515-294-1562, jlelonek@iastate.edu

Iowa State University
Office of Economic Development and Industry Relations
1805 Collaboration Place
Ames, IA  50010

 

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