Sep 16, 2011

Taking Online Learning to a Fun New Level

A great way to learn, while having fun.

That’s the motto of Clever Crazes for Kids, an online educational tool for students grades K-8 with strong ties to the University of Cincinnati. Founded by UC alumnae Dianne Dunkelman, the site was designed as an asset for educators, parents and guardians to boost academics and build strong minds, core ethics and healthy bodies for kids and their families.

The success of Clever Crazes revolves around the program’s ability to engage kids in learning about Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) principles are integrated into everyday lives… and how these educational basics are connected to healthy individuals, healthy relationships and a healthy planet. The program’s curriculum revolves around nine areas of academic focus, called, “worlds,” that teaches kids how STEM principles through a series of fun, interactive online games and quizzes. There is even a physical fitness component, which teaches kids about nutrition and exercise. Each curriculum can be taught as an after-school activity or as a supplement to classroom-based lesson plans.

For example, in the “You and How Things Work” curriculum, students are introduced to physics, chemistry and associated topics including heat, light, and sound, as well as electricity and magnetism. Students can begin by learning a few key facts from the lesson plan, or they can just right into an interactive game that quizzes their understanding of scientific principles. As students answer questions correctly, they earn points… which may eventually help their school win a bevy of prizes.

But it’s not just the kids who are having a ball online. Parents and teachers are getting in on the action, too, with specific portals designed just for their use. Teachers can even earn graduate credit from the University of Cincinnati or certifications required for professional development credit at their schools.

Dunkelman originally launched Clever Crazes in 2006, after becoming alarmed at the increasing prevalence of childhood obesity. The original program focused on reducing the incidence of overweight and obesity in young populations… reaching children in grades K-6, as well as teachers, parents and caregivers. This education effort, which has grown from the distribution of approximately 40,000 educational supplements in 2006 to more than 1.2 million supplements in 2011 – includes information on nutrition, physical activity, self-esteem and respect for the environment.

In 2009, after focus groups with educational professionals indicated the need to boost the academics of elementary and middle school aged kids, Dunkelman expanded Clever Crazes to include supplemental learning materials that focused on the STEM disciplines. The current iteration of Clever Crazes, Version 3.0, expands the program into the world of online learning, with a safe gaming twist.

If you’re interested in learning more about how Clever Crazes could help your child or their school, check out the curriculum at or visit the program’s Facebook page.

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