Taking advantage of a unique opportunity to combine her entrepreneurial spirit with her love of teaching, Trent alumna Alesia Blackwood has returned to Peterborough to create and launch an exciting and innovative new business through the Greater Peterborough Innovation Cluster.
UnLock Math is the brainchild of Ms. Blackwood, a teacher and graduate of the Trent-Queen’s Concurrent Education program, and her husband, Matthew, an accomplished video technician. Offering a completely virtual online learning environment, UnLock Math is designed for children struggling with math in school and in need of a tutor, or for home educators looking for a complete math curriculum.
An ad for the Greater Peterborough Innovation Cluster, which the couple saw upon returning from a trip to the US, introduced them to the “Cube” GPICs technology business incubator here at Trent.
“We were asking ourselves ‘how do we use my skills and my husband’s skills to create something where we could make a living at something we both love doing?’” recalls Ms. Blackwood, who was part of a team developing curricula for math, while teaching in Georgia. Inspired by the opportunity to help hundreds of students through her teaching, Ms. Blackwood was looking for the chance to reach thousands more. Online learning was a natural fit.
Having recently moved back to the Peterborough region, where Ms. Blackwood grew up and went to school, the couple jumped at the chance to pitch their idea to the Cluster, a not-for-profit organization with a mission to strengthen Peterborough’s regional innovation capacity by bridging the gap between scientific research and business. Located at Trent University in what is commonly referred as The Cube, it is Peterborough’s only incubation facility offering full residential and value-added business support services exclusively for early stage and start-up technology companies. Companies like UnLock Math.
Dr. David Poole, a professor in Trent’s Math Department, has helped mentor Ms. Blackwood through the process of setting up the program. He says the timing of the launch of the UnLock Math project could not be better.
“The media is full of stories about how Canada is falling behind other countries in international indicators of students' mathematics performance,” Professor Poole says. “Parents, especially, are increasingly concerned. However, many parents lack the knowledge, confidence, and tools to help their own children in mathematics. Independent math learning centres are thriving. UnLock Math offers parents and students another option: a resource that can be used at home that essentially packages Alesia's enthusiasm and knowledge.”
With the program and website set to launch shortly, UnLock Math recently celebrated another exciting piece of news as it was named a finalist in Peterborough’s Bear's Lair competition. The Bears’ Lair Entrepreneurial Competition is in the style of CBC’s The Dragons’ Den and is developed by Peterborough’s Workforce Development Board. The final showdown is set for April 23 at Market Hall.
For more information about UnLock Math and the Greater Peterborough Innovation Cluster visit: http://www.innovationcluster.ca/2014/01/09/meet-a-member-unlock-math/
Posted on Wednesday, April 23, 2014.