For this teacher, learning science is a snap
Whitney Goduto organizing summer STEM program using building toys
PAWTUCKET – “Shhh... don’t tell them it’s educational!”
This is the concept behind the STEAM-based (science, technology, engineering, art and math) children’s program Snapology, which has 27 U.S. locations – now including Northeast Rhode Island.
Snapology is an educational concept that utilizes Legos, K’Nex, computers and animation programs, and it is deployed through classes, camps and birthday parties for kids ages 2-14.
“Legos are so relaxing and they end up playing with them and then they realize they’re socializing with other kids without even thinking twice about it,” said Whitney Goduto, who started the Northeast RI franchise of the company.
This branch, still in its infancy, will serve Pawtucket, Central Falls, Cumberland, Lincoln and Providence.
Goduto is a kindergarten teacher in Pawtucket. She discovered Snapology while poking around online and emailed the company for more information.
“Working with children has been a passion of mine for over a decade and Snapology provides a unique and effective way for me to continue that work outside of my traditional classroom,” she said in a statement. “Learning is done differently at Snapology and I wanted to create a haven for learning for children whether it’s after school, on the weekend or for parties.”
She went to a week-long training in Pittsburgh on the financial and management aspects of the program, and most importantly, the curriculum.
“They took me through every lesson plan,” Goduto said. “I got to try a lot of programs on my own, so I actually experienced doing the building and the doing the programming.”
This is a fun experience for
someone who describes herself as “the biggest kid of all,” in terms of her enjoyment of the activities.
Programs can have themes such as Minecraft or superheroes, and topics include robotics, stop motion animation and video game design. An art-based program might involve the instructor talking about art history and having the kids make mosaics out of Legos, Goduto said.
The curriculum can be customized for gifted students as well as those with special needs, including kids with autism spectrum disorders.
Snapology provided her with 12 of its “get-moving kits” and two boxes of Legos, but she did have to take out a loan for the rest of the material purchases.
“I just really want people to try it out, because I think they’re going to love it,” Goduto said. “I think they’re going to love that their kids love it.”
Goduto is taking sign-ups for two camps running the first week of August: “Awesome Adventures Robotics” for children ages 7-14 and “Junior Engineers” for children ages 5-7.
Both camps run Aug. 1-5 from 9 to 12 p.m., and participants have the option of attending one day or all five.
The Awesome Adventures Robotics camp allows kids to build Lego models with working motors and sensors. The cost is $85 for one day and $150 for all five.
Junior Engineers involves using Duplo blocks to “experience pulleys, levers, gears, wheels and axles while exploring energy, buoyancy, and balance.” This camp is $70 for one day and $125 for all five.
Those interested in registering can visit northeastri.snapology.com, or call Goduto at 401-585-0743 for more information.
Both camps will be held at the Heritage Ballet (1947 Old Louisquisset Pike, Lincoln). Aside from being a kindergarten teacher and budding entrepreneur, Goduto is a dancer, and she is a business partner of Heritage Ballet director Patricia DuBois.
Goduto has helped DuBois get Heritage Ballet into local libraries, running free ballet classes. In turn, DuBois is letting Goduto use her space on the days and times it’s not being used for ballet classes.
This partnership has meant that Goduto is also offering hybrid Snapology and ballet birthday parties. All ballet birthday parties include 45 minutes for a ballet Legothemed activity, 45 minutes for ballet instruction and 30 minutes for food and cake.
Goduto also offers 1-hour and 1.5-hour birthday parties at the location of the buyer’s choice. Parties for 14 guests range from $225 to $300.
Goduto tries to incorporate the themes parents or kids want. For example, she is going to going to have one girl and her friends make a short stop-motion animation film with pandas at a party in August, because a pandathemed party was requested.
In the fall, once school is back in session, Goduto hopes to run after-school programs.
“It is exciting news to enter Rhode Island and provide children an alternative, fun and effective way of learning,” Snapology co-founder Laura Coe said in a statement. “We have had such a momentous year thus far for the company and entering Rhode Island is another proud accomplishment.”
Snapology also has locations in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, North Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, Ohio, Illinois, Texas and California. The company was founded in 2010 and has been franchising since last year.
“There’s so much learning that you don’t realize goes on when you play with Legos,” Goduto said.
Whitney Goduto, a Pawtucket kindergarten teacher, is conducting a summer ‘Snapology’ workshop for kids aged 2-14. The program uses Legos and similar toys to teach science and engineering concepts to young children.
Different Snapology kits can be used to teach concepts in biology, physics, or robotics.