top of page

Meet The Team

A gang of scrappy science and math geeks here to shake up the world of  science education 

About
Headshot of a person in a pink shirt

Michael P. Finnegan

Founder & CEO 

 

What if students could do science and math … right now ... on their own ... because they can?

 

I actually see math and science (and art, economics, writing, theater, philosophy, and ...) as normal things for humans to do ... certainly before they have real jobs, and hopefully while they have jobs. Why does this stuff need to be structured and 'institutionalized'? 

 

I only came to this realization after I working in the “system”. It demanded that I deliver a set of boring topics to my students. So I quit and founded QuantumCamp.

 

With a Ph.D. in my back pocket, experience in the solar cell manufacturing industry, and training in Montessori pedagogy, I studied how the greatest scientists and mathematicians in history arrived at the most profound intellectual breakthroughs. I saw that, invariably, these pursuits were driven by a simple curiosity and a fascination for our amazing universe.

Steve Berg

Cofounder and Advisor

As a child, I appreciated school and had fun, but I could have done better and achieved more. Before becoming a parent, I had an interest in giving back to the community and got much personal enjoyment from volunteering with Junior Achievement (in Washington DC) and Big Brothers Big Sisters (in Denver). Once I became a parent, my love for seeing children learn - my own as well as others - really took off, and I also became more aware of shortcomings with traditional education. My involvement with QuantumCamp stems from wanting to continue to make a difference in kids’ lives by providing math and science curriculum that gives them the confidence and ability to reach for the stars and work hard to improve the world as they grow up.

 

I am honored to be part of an amazing team that includes so many fun, talented, caring, and intelligent teachers and curriculum designers. They give me hope for the future and make me wish that QuantumCamp was around when I was a kid!

Headshot of a person in a blue anred plaid shirt
Photo of a person in their graduation ribbon and floral dress standing in front of an art sculpture

Sarah Kwon

Math Instructor and Curriculum Developer

I wholeheartedly believe that if you are thinking, you are doing math. Math is the art of symbolic logic, at the end of the day!

 

That’s why I believe that EVERYONE is good at math, even if they don’t know it yet!

 

I want students to feel comfortable with challenges, and I encourage them to make guesses, even if they think they might be wrong. Most of the time, they surprise themselves with how powerful a solving tool their minds are!

 

The wonderful thing about math is that there is no single correct way to solve a problem. In fact, there are an infinite number of ways we can solve a single problem!

 

My goal is to help each and every student find the solution that makes sense to them.

Mahathee Chetlapalli

Science Instructor and Curriculum Developer

Spend time with any baby and you’ll be met with an undeniable brightness. Letting that light grow is the delight in the work of an educator, perhaps more personally than for anyone else who might know the kid, because of the intention of how we spend our time together. We are there to discover, guide, and expand a kid’s knowledge and skills, making adjustments at a safe distance, so as not to slow or stifle the kid’s brightness, same as one guards and tends a small flame. 

 

For me, I’ve been blessed by the presence of several amazing educators, some who’ve known me and watched and shaped my development across several years. Somewhere that value spoke with my soul, and I began approaching this work more and more nearly. 

 

Remember your favorite educator and you’ll agree that who they were was aligned deeply with their being. And you’ll likely remember how well they listened to you, maybe more attentively than anyone else, and you felt really known, seen, and wanted. And if this educator was actually your own soul, you’ll understand why it’s so important to keep that alive in a kid. 

Photo of a person with long curly hair in a red long-sleeve plaid shirt outisde in the sun
Edited photo of a person in a coloful button up and tie outside some bushes making funny faces

Joseph Martin

Science Instructor and Curriculum Developer

Under the commonplace of everyday, the world still seethes with enough mystery and wonder to excite me with something new every week (thanks educational youtube!). And there’s no greater joy than sharing that wonder with kids!

 

Growing up, I explored science as a way to ground my world in something ‘real’. I filled myself with facts and phenomena and built a persona around being a ‘true scientist’ (I was that kid who made flashcards to memorize the periodic table in 6th grade… nerd). And because adolescence is like that, I boxed myself out of everything I thought wasn’t science. 

 

QuantumCamp’s Periodic Table course was my first experience that told me that science isn’t a single reality. It’s a living history that evolves - and when we participate in science we are contributing to the life and spirit of science (that too often crumbles into a dogmatism of its own).

 

Today my passion lies in how we can use the fruits of science to create and connect. The world needs creative people willing to communicate honestly, question why, and who believe they can change the world. Which sounds a lot like… Kids! 

 

Kids today are my colleagues tomorrow and I’m honored to have a chance to work with them as they’re first charting out how they’ll change the world. To show them they can be a scientist and an artist and a humanitarian and anything that gives them inspiration.

Jessica Sierra

Supply and Logistics Coordinator

I started peer-tutoring in high school and continued to tutor through college. My favorite subject to tutor was math. I noticed that students really needed that hands-on learning and started implementing it in my tutoring sessions. It was exciting to help students who were previously struggling with math excel and become “good at math”.

 

The best part about working for QC is watching our amazing instructors help students succeed through hands-on project-based learning. I strongly admire QC’s innovative curriculum because it uses advanced scientific equipment for elementary and middle schoolers that I did not see until I took a Chemistry Lab course at UC Berkeley. 

Headshot of a person with a red lip and glasses in a blue stripped button up

Our Story

Science Had No Soul

Cofounder and CEO, Michael Finnegan, Ph.D., tells the story of QuantumCourses

"For those who are not shocked when they first come across quantum theory cannot possibly have understood it.” 

 

Danish Scientist, Neils Bohr said this decades after 1913, the year when he proclaimed to the world that electrons, inside atoms, don't move smoothly through space, but rather jump around with no trace and no trail, as if by magic.

How did Bohr arrive at this picture of the atom? Well, the answer to this question IS the founding ideal of QuantumCourse, Inc.

Photo of Neils Bohr and his Atomic Model
Photo of Marie Montessori in a long white dress seated and smiling warmly

Marie Montessori

Photo of Paulo Freire ina dark jacket leaning on a table with his arms crossed and smiling warmly

Paulo Freire

You see, I used to be a public school science teacher, frustrated by the obstacles to delivering simple, fun, authentic science.

The school board and principal mandated I teach science to a standardized test.

 

But this would mean teaching boring content, to be memorized, and forgotten. 

It would mean students don't dive into why earthquakes, fire, breathing, the striking similarity of primates on different continents, shooting stars, and .. and let me get technical here for a second .. the beautiful spectral emission lines (see the QC logo!) of the chemical elements ... 

... On this last thing, the spectral lines, in the middle of the 19th century, physicists noticed that each element, when energized, emitted a unique series of light bands. There was zero theoretical explanation for this fascinating phenomenon. 

 

Curiosity about this mystifying phenomenon drove a half century of systematic explorations! … And out comes quantum physics AND… an idea of a summer camp program! 

 

That’s right, in 2012, I created a series of science lessons, mirroring the investigations from the 1850’s to 1913, which allowed students to discover their own way to the quantum revolution. 

 

On Friday of that weeklong summer camp, students approached me saying, “Michael, does this mean the electron can be here and here, but not in between. It just jumps magically from spot to spot?” 12 kids discovered quantum physics, with minimal guidance. 

 

99 years after Neils Bohr published his theory, a company was born modeled on the way he and all the great scientists and mathematicians from history did what they did. 

Science History Discovery  Timeline
Photo of students smiling in awe and excitement at a combusting fire and smoke science experiment

Our Approach

Confront authentic challenges

Students confront the same problems faced by scientists of history

rather than

passively absorb science facts from digital textbooks.

Run lab experiments

Students conduct their own experiments

rather than

watch someone else on youtube. 

Make claims based on evidence

Students construct ideas from their own lab work

rather than

obsess about the right answer on the worksheet. 

Create knowledge from first principles

Students build-up theories from the information they collect

rather than

blindly accept the conclusions of others. 

Build understanding over time

Students see a picture unfold over time

rather than

cross learning standards off of a list. 

Reflect on ideas

Student colloborate and reflect

rather than

compete on exams.

Do science when curious

Students gather supplies, logon, and run labs at their own pace

rather than

follow someone else's calendar. 

Learn from stories

Students are immersed in stories, providing rich context and motivation

rather than

follow a textbook of sanatized performance tasks.

bottom of page