Words on a Limb feature with the creators of the EnteleTrons®
Entelechy Education, LLC is the brainchild of two forward-thinking partners who came together in 2012 to develop a company that would advance children’s knowledge of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) topics while helping them to understand vital character education concepts. They accomplish this by producing books that teachers can use in the literacy curriculum and parents can strategically place in the home bookshelf for further discussion of the topics. By offering children fun EnteleTrons® characters, learning becomes enjoyable.
Renée Heiss, the corporate literary officer, is an award-winning children’s author and retired teacher of child development. She was the 1997 New Jersey Family Consumer Sciences Teacher of the Year. In 2008, she was honored as a Baldwin Fellow at the University of Wisconsin at Madison for a Nanotechnology Meets Biotechnology Symposium. She is an instructor for the Institute of Children’s Literature and a member of R-NEA, R-NJEA, and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Visit her website at www.reneeheiss.com and contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gary A. Stewart, the corporate business officer, has a unique record of accomplishment in the areas of strategic planning, domestic and global business development, marketing and sales, and operational management. Gary has been actively involved in all major facets of the pharmaceutical industry, leveraging his scientific and business background to promote entrepreneurship, strategic and critical thinking, innovation and creativity. Gary is a successful inventor and active educator. Visit his website at www.semperprotinus.com and contact him at email@example.com
What was the impetus that drove you to co-found Entelechy Education, LLC?RH: When Gary posted an ad on the SCBWI bulletin board for an author to help produce a science series with a character education component, I felt that the position was mine. While teaching, I had been a founding member of The Human Relations Council at my school. To me, character education is as important as intellectual education in the growth of the whole child. As an author, I knew I could develop the complex scientific topics on a level young readers could understand.
GS: Years ago, watching my own children grow-up, I was always struck by the “standard” plot of good-versus-evil in children’s cartoons and entertainment. As one with a scientific background, I often thought about ways in which we could teach young people basic STEM concepts earlier in a child’s life and how these concepts could also be presented with character development themes. So the idea emerged from asking the fundamental question, “What if?”…and it occurred to me, what if we were able to create a new set of scientifically-based “action figures” to teach real scientific lessons to children? At that moment, I knew at a minimum that I’d need a creative writer to get started!
What are your contributions to the success of the growing company?
RH: My primary contribution is to write the books. Additionally, as a retired teacher, I also develop the learning guides, which we offer free on the website that I also maintain. I feel it is important that children extend their learning beyond the book and beyond the classroom into the world in which they live. The learning guides help teachers to develop diverse Learning Centers for their classroom and help parents encourage their children to explore the topic further. I also assist with the content marketing our books.
GS: My primary role is to support the strategic development of the company to produce and distribute our titles…essentially providing the structure for Renée to write great stories and for illustrators to create great visuals…and to be in charge of “quality” to assure that each STEM concept is correct. In addition, I insist on creating an operating culture which is founded on having fun and allowing all of us to continually learn!
Explain the concept development that surrounds The EnteleTrons®.
RH: Research has proven that learning is facilitated when children view their education as fun rather than a requirement. I admit that when Gary first posed the concept of atomic particles as characters, I was a bit taken aback and skeptical. Now I can see the value of using fictionalized, non-human science-related characters to teach children about STEM topics while providing examples of positive character interaction. When teachers use these books in their literacy lessons, the students will experience a trifecta of learning.
GS: Truth be told, I was reading an article in Scientific American about the relationship between sub-atomic particles and cosmology — and the notion occurred to me…what if we were able to create our new “action figures” based upon a proton, neutron and electron? This would be a lot of fun developing the graphic images to make these particles “come to life”! And with some very successful brainstorming with Renée, we developed The EnteleTrons® as the name for the group.
What are your plans for the future of Entelechy Education?
RH: I see Entelechy Education, LLC growing to include products that support the books over the next few years. I envision a line of EnteleTrons® items like videos, action figures, and posters that teachers can use in their literacy learning centers. I think the appeal of the EnteleTrons® action figures is that they transcend individual prejudices. This makes them the ideal vehicle for teaching character education without involving bias judgments. Our first book, Where’s Green? has earned the 2014 Silver Medal from the Mom’s Choice Awards. We look forward to other awards for our next books, What’s the Matter? and Oxygen Finds Friends.
GS: We’re working hard to uniquely distinguish our products for early elementary school children — and we’re interested in using this as a platform for contributions from aspiring creative writers and illustrators. The STEM and character development themes are limitless and the idea of creating a robust collection of inexpensive and entertaining titles, in both traditional print media as well as emerging digital media is very exciting. We are also actively seeking corporate sponsorship for titles and topics related to that corporation.
When you aren’t working on advancing your brainchild, what else do you do?
RH: I am a charity quilter. I make quilts for disadvantaged children and support the Care Bags 4 Kids Foundation by donating homemade bags and purchased items that children will cherish while they are displaced due to natural disasters or intervention by social services. I also maintain my church’s website (www.holyeucharist.org) and my own website (www.reneeheiss.com). I enjoy swimming and playing with my grandchildren when they visit.
GS: I am very active in a strategic business development role in the pharmaceutical/healthcare industry — and teach entrepreneurship and management principles at several Schools of Pharmacy in Maryland. In addition, I have invented a unique design for eyeglasses and am working to commercialize this invention as a new consumer product.
What’s the Matter
By Renée Heiss and Gary A. Stewart
Illustrated by Christine O’Brien
The EnteleTronsTM help the three primary states of matter understand their role in the water cycle, also exploring temperature and insulation. Through character interaction, The EnteleTronsTM help young readers accept the changes that occur in their lives. Accompanying EnteleKeyTM Learning Guide offers activities, simple experiments, and discussion questions.
Other EnteleTrons™ Books:
We would like to thank Renée and Gary for their time today. We encourage you to visit the Entelechy Education, LLC website at www.entelechyed.com frequently to see updates on new titles and products. Also, the associated philanthropy, The Crescerion Foundation, will eventually provide educational services for needy children.