snapology cleveland aims to build STEM skills through play-based learning

Gina Cuffari, a mother of two boys who is Campus Director for the University of Phoenix Beachwood campus, has spent the past year looking for a business she could start with her children. Then she discovered Snapology – a combination of play and learning that uses Legos, Minecraft, gears, pulleys, Build-a-Bot and other fun stuff to teach science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills to 3-9 year olds. So she decided to create Snapology Cleveland, whose new tagline is “Shhh… Don’t tell them it’s education.”

“Talking to other parents and taking the kids to birthday parties, I realized there’s nothing like Snapology on the east side of Cleveland,” says Cuffari. “I visited the Snapology founders in Pittsburgh and fell in love with the curriculum. It’s simple and fun. It’s totally age appropriate and the building happens in teams.”

According to the website, Snapology was created by sisters Lisa and Laura Coe, "who observed the love their children had for creative play using building blocks and other materials that snap together. The idea of offering enrichment classes and camps to teach science, mathematics, technology and literacy concepts excited them given both of their backgrounds in mathematics and science."
With new offices set up at LaunchHouse, Snapology Cleveland will officially open on Wednesday, October 1st at 4 p.m. with Shaker Heights Mayor Earl Leiken presiding over a ribbon-cutting. Cuffari plans to offer classes, birthday parties, camps and playdates at various locations around Shaker and Beachwood.
Cuffari is partnering with the Fairmount Circle Ben and Jerry’s owner Jim Leikin to offer Snapology events in the ice cream shop’s basement. “We’ll be having our six-week Lego Engineers Let's Get Movin' class there in October,” she explains. “And we will likely follow with some fun themed classes like Adventures with Star Wars, Superheroes or Minecraft.”
Snapology will offer classes and winter camps in the Beachwood Community Center beginning in November. Cuffari also plans to partner with local school districts to offer after-school programming.
Recognizing that busy parents can't always stay for the entire duration of each class, Cuffari takes photos and video of the kids playing that parents can view on the Snapology website. With the stop-motion animation class, parents are invited to attend a movie premiere of their kids’ work.
Cuffari currently has one full-time employee and is recruiting area teachers who want to supplement their incomes.  “I’m hoping to find more people who are passionate about STEM education,” she says. I’m hoping to generate a buzz in the teaching community.” Candidates can get an appllication here.

Read more articles by Karin Connelly Rice.

Karin Connelly Rice enjoys telling people's stories, whether it's a promising startup or a life's passion. Over the past 20 years she has reported on the local business community for publications such as Inside Business and Cleveland Magazine. She was editor of the Rocky River/Lakewood edition of In the Neighborhood and was a reporter and photographer for the Amherst News-Times. At Fresh Water she enjoys telling the stories of Clevelanders who are shaping and embracing the business and research climate in Cleveland.
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