More than meets the eye
Christine Celis also hosts birthday parties at Pure Genius. She has two dinosaur parties coming up. She had another party recently that focused on butterflies and she brought in caterpillars and dirt and students made biomes out of plastic.
Pure Genius is located at 31 TJ Arnold Circle in Ringgold and can be reached at 706-965-GURU, or by visiting puregenius.guru.
Christine Celis believes everyone is a genius and, if given the opportunity, "everyone's genius can shine."
That's what she hopes to help locals do through Pure Genius, which she recently opened on 3 Notch Road. She is working with students at Oakwood Christian Academy and Brainerd Baptist Academy, and hopes to branch out to bring STEM education to local classes.
For example, Celis just worked with 150 students through the Catoosa County Leadership Academy.
"Science is everything around us if we think creatively about it," she said. "So many kids don't think they can do science because they don't have a kit. I opened Pure Genius because I want my kids to have these learning opportunities," added Celis, formerly a stay-at-home mom to Natalia, 9, and Antonio, 5.
She collects recycled bottle caps, plastic bottles and toilet paper tubes to be upcycled into science lessons.
In a two-hour workshop at Brainerd Baptist Academy, she had students build Lego cars for the first hour and build recycled racers for the second hour.
"This year we came up with edible cars," she said. "The kids had to figure out how to make cars out of food. They had the opportunity to practice racing. The idea is cars have wheels to make it go. We had fastest, most creative and which one can go the farthest distance without falling apart.
"The whole idea is to give kids 'TIME' to Think Innovate Make and Explore. Time is a gift. Kids need time to 'FAIL,' or First Attempt In Learning. If you haven't failed, then you haven't tried. Dyson tried hundreds of times before he got the vacuum right. In my class, students high-five over failure if they attempt [success]."
Hands-on experiments are a large part of what Celis offers, but she also utilizes code.org for technological based projects such as having kids create their own computer games.
Pure Genius has two laboratory rooms and a garage area for the messiest experiments.
"I have lab coats for kids and when they put on the lab coat they feel like a genius, so it's fun," said Celis, who has a master's degree in finance and math education. She has studied at the doctorate level too. "I'm trying to make an impact on the future of kids. Our kids need grit: that ability to fail and persevere. Life is not a test. Life is about 'I have a problem. Can I get back up and try again?' Grit is the ability to keep going."
In addition to getting involved with the local school system, she would like to offer options for students with autism.
"I saw a kid last year that was a behavior problem and I went in the classroom to show circuits. Just that he could see that he could be an electrical engineer made him smile," she said.