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IDEA Lab Kids Central Houston Revitalizes STEM Programming at Horn Elementary

When staffing shortages cut STEM programs at Horn Elementary School, IDEA Lab® Kids stepped in. Now, demand for the activities is growing.

IDEA Lab Kids is a franchise committed to helping kids explore their love of science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM) subjects through after-school classes, camps, birthday parties and open labs. The result is an exciting franchise concept for entrepreneurs looking to make a meaningful impact on families in their community. 

IDEA Lab Kids in Central Houston, for example, recently revitalized a once-discontinued STEM curriculum in the form of an afterschool club  at a local grade school, Horn Elementary.

"My wife and I have been with IDEA Lab Kids for about six years now; we were franchisee number two with the brand,” said Kabir Barua, the franchise owner of IDEA Lab Kids Central Houston. “We've continued to grow and, as the company has grown, so has our franchise territory. We cover most of Houston. Most of our kids at IDEA Lab Kids come from Horn Elementary, so we are already very involved with the school.”

Horn Elementary had previously invested in a fully-equipped STEM lab featuring computers, LEGO® Robotics kits and 3D printers, aimed at bolstering STEM education. However, due to staffing shortages, the curriculum was placed on hold , leaving the lab underutilized. 

“Before COVID, Horn Elementary had a STEM core enrichment class,” said Nancy Huang, a volunteer mom at Horn. “The kids all loved it and it was one of their favorite classes. When school funding was cut post pandemic, we had to put our beloved STEM class on-hold for a few years.  STEM education for my son, along with his fellow students, was very important to me as a parent. 

At the beginning of this school year, Huang and another volunteer mom at the school, Meghan Lutszhg, talked and proposed the  idea of a STEM club after school program.

“If we offered a STEM club after school, then we could have all the kids who were interested sign up,” said Huang. “We already had the lab and equipment, the only thing we didn’t have was a teacher.”

That is where IDEA Lab Kids of Central Houston stepped in. "We are a STEAM education provider, and when we saw the opportunity to utilize the lab's resources effectively, we immediately stepped in to help,” Barua said. “We could do the curriculum and teach the classes, and they had all the equipment waiting for us. The parents and the PTO have been instrumental as well. They were really pushing for STEAM education, and we can offer them an affordable option.”

According to Barua, the response to the new STEM club was immediately overwhelming, with initial slots filling up rapidly and the system crashing due to high demand. "The moment we opened the STEM club, we had spots for 12 kids, and that sold out in 10 minutes," he said. "Within 24 hours, we had 50 kids, and ultimately had 74 kids enrolled. All the classes were full with a waiting list."

This spring, the program catered to third to fifth graders, offering a rotation through various disciplines such as robotics, coding and engineering. Plans are underway to expand the club to include other age groups and more classes, a testament to the growing demand and success of the program.

“STEAM education is something that a lot of parents really want for their kids, so the program has been extremely popular,” said Huang. “The kids are also so happy and are always eager for their STEM club day to come up. They love building the LEGO robots, designing 3D printing and being creative.”

Barua and his team are not stopping at Horn Elementary. They are actively teaching at four different schools with plans to expand further. "STEAM education is super important for the kids, and they really enjoy and value it,” he said. “It's really the wave of the future." 

Overall, as the demand for specialized knowledge in fields like STEAM continues to grow, IDEA Lab Kids franchises offer a unique opportunity for entrepreneurs to play a pivotal role in shaping the next generation. By stepping in where traditional education systems may falter, IDEA Lab Kids franchisees like Barua help fill critical gaps, ensuring that children have the skills and knowledge to thrive in the future.