For this teacher, learn­ing science is a snap

Whitney Go­duto or­ga­niz­ing sum­mer STEM pro­gram us­ing build­ing toys

Pawtucket Times - - FRONT PAGE - By ERICA MOSER emoser@woonsock­et­

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.snapol­, 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.

Sub­mit­ted photo

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.

Sub­mit­ted photo

Dif­fer­ent Snapol­ogy kits can be used to teach con­cepts in bi­ol­ogy, physics, or ro­bot­ics.

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