This spring, The Motherhood has been working with the team behind the Brain Chase Summer Learning Challenge, along with a large team of mom influencers, to spread the word about this fun and interactive online summer learning option. Recently, we asked Brain Chase Chief Marketing Officer Neylan McBaine to share her thoughts on why Brain Chase is a unique, effective option for families.
Keep reading to learn what she has to say!
In your opinion, what sets Brain Chase apart from other online summer learning options?
Brain Chase brings together two things that are found in quality and quantity apart but are rarely combined effectively: education and entertainment. Singular successful examples last generations in our memories: Schoolhouse Rock, Where In the World Is Carmen San Diego?, even Sesame Street, to name a few from my own childhood. But Brain Chase takes that pairing into both the digital and offline worlds. By offering the best online curriculum resources on the web and motivating kids to use them by crafting a massive global treasure hunt, Brain Chase offers kids a framework in which they can learn from the best while not suffering the drudgery and nagging parental figures that accompany so many other options.
What was your family’s experience participating in Brain Chase last summer (before you were hired by the company)?
My three daughters are not particularly computer literate, so I am always looking for ways to introduce them to resources and sites online that will expose them to the best of what the internet has to offer. For me, one of the best parts of participating in the program last summer was seeing my kids become fluent on Khan Academy and myON in a structured, motivating environment. This year, Brain Chase has added Rosetta Stone and Google Books as curriculum partners, so we’re looking forward to becoming familiar with those this year.
While I might have appreciated seeing them become more familiar with the web’s “healthy” resources, their favorite part for sure was the adventure tools that came through the mail from the Grayson Academy of Antiquities (the fictional employer of our heroine, Mae Merriweather). They received a very cool decoder ring, a compass and seeds that revealed a secret password on their leaves when they grew. This year’s adventure tools are just as cool: a decoder medallion, a sundial and a mystery tool – but I know what it is and it is delightful. It’s magical to see kids receive a package in the mail that looks like it comes from an exotic adventureland and then figure out how to use something like a compass that is foreign to them today but directed our civilizations for thousands of years! (Apparently, the kids weren’t the only ones who love these tools.)
How have parents and kids reacted to the idea of Brain Chase in general?
We joke in the office that Brain Chase is an “and then…” product: “So, it’s a summer program that’s online … and then there are real adventure tools … and then there are animated episodes … and then there are clues to a riddle … and then there’s a real buried treasure … and then there is a $10,000 prize…!” Parents and kids both become more and more intrigued when they learn about the extent of the program and all of the magical online and offline components. Overwhelmingly, when a parent grasps the full concept and the tremendous value we’re offering over five weeks, they can’t believe how fun and productive and flexible and useful the program is. We have some seriously devoted fans! The kids love the idea of the animated show and the real buried treasure, and parents love the fact that they won’t have to nag their kids about doing something productive with their inevitable summer screen time.
What is the most important thing you would like people to know about Brain Chase?
Brain Chase is unlike anything else parents are familiar with today, so it requires a bit of education to understand just how comprehensive our value is. On the education side, we’re researching and curating and partnering with the very best curriculum providers on the web, most of which are expensive as stand-alone subscriptions. With Brain Chase, kids will get seven weeks of access to Rosetta Stone, for instance (the kids can access Rosetta Stone for two additional weeks after our program ends to continue with their work), which is not a cheap resource. We’re also providing streamlined log-ins to each curriculum partner and a dashboard where the student’s work on each site is tracked. We’re providing a motivational framework so the child won’t have to be nagged to do their work, a place where kids can become familiar with the “superfoods” of the web and not just the “junk.”
On the entertainment side, we have an original animated series featuring our own characters, and the episodes are packed with clues to the location of a real-life buried treasure. The adventure tools we send in the mail are essential for completing the weekly education challenges but also for solving the global treasure hunt. All of that makes for an amazing value when you compare it to those components separately or to any other five-week summer camp, and when you consider that our program can be done from anywhere, at any time.
As a parent yourself, what do you most love about the Brain Chase academic offerings?
All of our academic offerings are entirely flexible and can be personalized to the students’ needs. So my three daughters – 11, 9 and 6 – can each get exactly what they need from the program. With Khan Academy, for instance, my 11-year-old can choose to review fifth grade math or go on to sixth grade math, and my 6-year-old can select first grade math. Similarly, my kids can select different books to read and even different languages to study through Rosetta Stone. What this means is that Brain Chase can be used as a tool to help kids review last year’s work or get ahead for the next year. We’ve had a number of touching stories from parents whose kids used Brain Chase last year to catch up after missing some school due to illness or learning disabilities. I love that part of our program.
Our kids want to know if Brain Chase can come to their classrooms! Any plans to tap the larger education market?
Absolutely! Our summer program will always be our foundational offering, but we’re in the process now of looking for partners with whom we can build after-school programs and expand our product offerings. We’d love to use our existing motivational framework to make additional learning fun in the after-school hours, or personalize the animations and treasure hunt to a specific educational group. We currently have a program where we give teachers $15 for each of their students who registers for Brain Chase, so getting a lot of kids in a class to register for the summer program is a great fundraiser for a teacher or a school.
You can visit Brain Chase here to register!