Originally published March 8, 2022 by the Mercer University Den.
By Andrea Honaker
As a teacher for the past 16 years, Sean Splawski has brought outside-the-box, high-energy lessons to the table. He always knew he was doing something unique in his classrooms, and driven by his research at Mercer University, he created an engaging, game-based curriculum that students can’t get enough of.
Splawski officially launched Eduscize a year ago, and it’s already being used in school districts in Georgia, Texas and Wisconsin. The program is poised to spread further through a new partnership with Interactive Health Technologies (IHT).
Splawski, originally from Green Bay, Wisconsin, volunteered in a kindergarten class at age 15 and instantly knew teaching was what he wanted to do for the rest of his life. As a child with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, he hated school and struggled through it. After earning his undergraduate degree at University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and a master’s degree in early childhood education at Kennesaw State University, he set out to break the mold of what classrooms look like.
With Cobb County Schools, he’s taught kindergarten, first and second grades and been the K-5 STEAM lab teacher at Mableton Elementary for the past eight years. His lessons combine science, technology, engineering, arts and math concepts with health, fitness and nutrition elements. For instance, he does farm-to-table learning with his students, showing them where foods come from and how to cook.
“I take risks,” he said. “I design my own curriculum. I don’t follow a script.”
Motivated by a study that concluded the average 19-year-old was as active as a 60-year-old, he started developing the concept for Eduscize in 2017. He and a colleague applied for a grant and received $11,000 to purchase two sets of IHT heart rate monitors. They incorporated the devices into activities with students in their physical education and STEAM lab classes and saw increased engagement.
That inspired Splawski to approach his principal with the idea of designing a kinesthetic math curriculum involving simple games and movement. He started developing the lessons, testing them with students and writing lesson plans. He took that work to the next level when he enrolled in the Specialist in Education Teacher Leadership program at Mercer’s Tift College of Education, for which he did heavy research on kinesthetic learning and developed 72 K-5 lessons by the time he graduated in May 2020.
“The majority of all learners are kinesthetic learners,” Splawski said. “Research shows that more neural connections are made while students move, and then I’m adding academic competition. Students will keep playing and playing (the games) because they’re having so much fun. When you engage a child, they forget they used to hate math.”
Splawski trained his colleagues at Mableton Elementary in the program in 2020, and the overwhelming response led him to file for an LLC for Eduscize. He was then awarded a $15,000 grant from the Cobb district for the proof of concept phase of the curriculum, once again receiving positive results.
Eduscize teaches students a variety of math concepts through fast-paced games that use simple props like cones, mini basketball hoops, rings, jump ropes, cups and ping pong balls. The lessons can be adapted easily by teachers to meet their needs.
Heart rate monitors are also incorporated into the curriculum, allowing students to track and monitor their own health. Kids often burn 300-400 calories while working on their math skills, Splawski said. With studies showing increased childhood obesity since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Eduscize couldn’t have come at a better time.
“We need something that’s not only going to impact our kids’ academics but their health and wellness,” said Splawski, who has two children with his wife, Melissa. “This is why I built my program. I want my children to outlive me. Somebody’s got to be the change.”
Eduscize lets children be in charge of their own learning and gets them excited about it, which helps keep them in school.
“My program is so inclusive to all students. It meets the needs of all learners,” Splawski said. “I still remember what it’s like to be a 10-year-old, a 7-year-old. I hated sitting in school. That’s what my program is for; it’s for every child who was ever told to be still; it’s for every child who was ever told to sit down and be quiet. It’s about helping children love school.”
The program has been picked up by Cobb County, Henry County, Haralson County, Marietta City and Atlanta schools and piloted in districts in Wisconsin and Texas. Recently, assembly of Eduscize kits moved to a full-scale production facility, a big step up from Splawski doing it in the basement of his home a year ago.
In addition, heart rate monitor manufacturer IHT is marketing Eduscize as its official STEM program. Next academic year, Splawski will travel to schools and train staff full time with IHT. He’s working on phonics and science curriculums right now and hopes to eventually offer middle and high school programs.
“Doing the research at Mercer, that’s what propelled me to create the company. Now, to be mass producing (Eduscize) and building this inventory is a dream come true,” he said. “You don’t get into teaching to make money; you get into teaching to change lives. I literally have the opportunity to change the world now.”