By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer
In 2011, Quin Etnyre was tired of playing with his boring LEGO Mindstorms robotics kit. It was awesome building simple robots at first, but after awhile, he wanted to make more advanced ones. So, what’s a boy genius to do? Look for a real challenge!
His parents flew him to California to take an engineering class with students at least 10 years older than him. Now, you might think it’s pretty frightening going to school with older students, but that didn’t scare brainiac Quin. In fact, many of his older classmates began asking him for help.
Fast forward to a year later, and Quin launched a company called Qtechknow, which sells engineering starter kits to teach eager beginners the basics about electronics. If you can’t already tell, Quin absolutely loves technology, and now he wants to make a system of schools so other kids can fall in love with it, too. He calls it the “New Qtechknow School.”
“School is pretty boring, but it could be a lot more interesting and interactive,” he says. “More hands-on and more mentoring.” Instead of a traditional school, Quin wants to separate the grades into three groups: K-3, 4-8, and 9-12. That way, the schools will be more focused on older kids mentoring younger kids, kind of like he was able to teach the students in his computer classes. “It’s fun to teach other kids, and little kids look up to older kids,” he says thoughtfully. “It helped me learn when I was young because it was fun.” Of course, he wants his New Qtechknow School to focus on math and science.
Sounds great and all, but hello, the kid is 12 years old! He couldn’t possibly be able to change the school system in the nation! At least, that’s what I thought until I heard that last March, his father helped him get in touch with Raynee Daley, the assistant supervisor in his school district. Sure, he wasn’t able to change all the schools overnight, but Daley was open to his idea about getting students interested in electronics with engineering kits. “I knew this kid was absolutely brilliant,” she said. “And I believe that hands-on learning is critical.”
Daley was so impressed, she rounded more than a dozen principals from the school district to listen to Quin’s idea. Believe it or not, they all agreed to begin an electronics program in their schools! As of now, they plan to have the program ready by 2014, which is just about the time Quin starts high school. “[He] has made us all think differently about what the future of education could be like,” Daley says.
So, what’s in 12-year old Quin’s educational future? Not surprisingly, he plans to attend Massachusetts Institute of Technology, one of the more prestigious math and science universities in the nation.
Images of Qtechknow and video courtesy of Quin Etnyre.