Photos by Andrea Bolt
Local mom uses hands-on approach to science education
With the opportunity to learn more about the world of science through dissecting cow eyeballs, constructing Angry Bird catapults, and making slime in the lab, Madam Newton-Einstein’s Science Academy is what most kids dream of what a science class should be.
The academy was established three years ago when owner Tammy Reel began volunteering as a science teacher character at Broadway Elementary.
Reel modeled her quirky character, “Mrs. Frazzle,” after “Mrs. Frizzle,” of popular 90s television show “The Magic School Bus” fame.
“She was someone who was on their level,” Reel said. “She had a back story of being a synchronized swimmer and then decided she wanted to be a science teacher. A lot of the time, they would know more than she did ... they really responded to her.”
Broadway Elementary allowed Reel to create her own teaching methods. Her lessons included the ability to be hands-on.
After receiving positive feedback from children and parents, Reel had the idea to open her own business.
“After lots of begging, I asked my husband if we could use our retirement money to open a facility,” Reel said.
The academy’s facilities are completely kid-friendly and rely heavily on personal interaction.
“I want kids to be able to touch and feel and not to be afraid to stick their hands in everything, to get messy,” Reel said. “Science is a very hands-on experience.”
The facility was designed to help teach kids about science through exploration, discovery and experimenting in safe, kid-centric science labs and in the animal-filled Discovery Room. Apart from offering different classes, programs and club meetings throughout the week, Reel hosts several birthday parties, which make use of the facility’s party room.
Reel offers homeschooling programs for all ages, ranging from $125 to $250, depending on program length. Reel and her staff change up classes and programs every year so new subjects are explored. The “Science of Angry Birds” homeschool program explores the science involved in the popular phone game app, such as angles, speed, gravity, velocity and Sir Isaac Newton’s laws of physics.
“It just shows kids that everywhere, there is science, even in common things and in things they wouldn’t expect, like their favorite game,” Reel said.
Lab assistant Heather Ewton said kids enjoy the Discovery Room, which features rabbits, snakes, cockroaches, geckos, gerbils, birds, fish and turtles.
“It’s really great to teach them about how to handle animals, how to touch them and also to see them so up close,” Ewton said.
Ewton, who has a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Houston, said the academy is ideal for kids who are not doing well in science subjects in school or those who lack interest in the subject area.
“There’s just no reason for a textbook when you can go out and do it, see it, experience it yourself,” Ewton said.
Madam Newton-Einstein’s Science Academy, 27327 Robinson Road, Oak Ridge North, 281-298-2120, www.mnescienceacademy.com