Meet the Kool Kat Science Team

Kool Kat Science exists to serve STEM teachers and learners

Paula and Dave Schoeff are a teacher and engineer writing team. Together we bring 20 years of teaching and engineering expertise to our lessons. We have been writing project-based STEM lessons for about ten years and our work is used in school districts in the United States and China. Several of our lessons are also included in NSTA’s STEM Road Map curriculum series. In August 2018, we began teaching STEM Clubs to explore STEM experiences as a relationship-building tool. In 2020 we added a Coding Club, and in 2021 we added a Robotics Club.

The clubs are composed of teams who work on a couple major projects per semester. This structure is unique in that each team is an intermediate student (grades 2-6) and a parent, grandparent, or other mentor. We use member input and our observations from the clubs to fine-tune lessons and activities offered on our Teachers Pay Teachers store.

Kool Kat Science in a meeting
The Kool Kat Science team mock up an illustration for a lesson on seasons.
Robot Toy

Hi! I’m Paula, the teacher half of Kool Kat Science.

I am passionate about open-ended, problem-solving projects with a hands-on approach. I believe many kids have preconceived ideas and misconceptions that textbooks and kits cannot address. In contrast, STEM education’s engineering design process provides a framework that fosters critical thinking and creativity. I am convinced that genuine STEM experiences give children unparalleled opportunities to expand and validate their science knowledge.

Dave and puppet

I’m Dave, the engineer half of Kool Kat Science.

I am passionate about building things. I believe kids are curious and naturally creative. Building gadgets and gizmos helps students to understand and appreciate the engineered world they inhabit. The ideal STEM project should be more than a step-by-step assembly exercise. Student STEM projects should require imagination, prototyping, problem-solving, and a bit of grit. Whenever possible, projects should include common hardware items and hand tools like those that real engineers use. Teach a kid to use basic tools correctly and you equip them with skills they can use throughout life.

We have always lived in the Midwest. We were born and raised in Fort Wayne, Indiana then moved to Toledo, Ohio after our six children left the house. According to a HuffPost article, there are several reasons the Midwest is the best place to live:

  • It’s been “proven” that Midwesterners are super friendly.
  • We are eager to help others.
  • International tourists find us ‘charming.’
  • Everything is so cheap!
  • The air in the Midwest practically sparkles!
  • We appreciate our teachers.
  • We are thrifty.
  • We value our families and keep them really close.Midwesterners are at the forefront of a major linguistics change called the “Northern Cities Shift.” Beware, your city may be adopting our nasal pronunciations next!
Dave and Caleb in Kentucky
Dave, the technical half of Kool Kat Science, discusses an engineering problem from the Garden Game design challenge with our son, Caleb

There you have it! We don’t have ocean beaches or mountain ridges, but we are not shy about saying that we love our lakefront properties, diverse parks, and rolling hills.  We enjoy the variations in weather and that we can drive a few miles to experience fields and farm animals, lakes for swimming and fishing, and Tofts gigantic ice cream cones.

Boy with an ice cream cone
Tofts Ice Cream - where even a "small cone" is BIG!

A few more facts about the Kool Kats:

  • We are proud parents of six (two sons and four daughters), grandparents to 7 grandsons and 1 granddaughter.
  • One of our sons is a coal miner and the other was a fisherman. Our youngest son recently passed away.
  • Our four girls all work in STEM fields too. We love to joke that if any home improvements are needed in their homes, the ladies are the first to jump in.
  • Paula loves gardening. Our yard is not huge, but we have six different flower beds and several ornamental trees.
  • Dave loves working with kids. He divides his spare time between teaching Sunday school class, coaching robot builders, and dreaming up STEM projects.
  • For leisure, Paula enjoys being outdoors. Walking in the park, going to the beach, and working in the yard are all favorite activities. She enjoys reading mysteries over non-fiction books, but occasionally self-help books and biographies catch her attention. Her favorite TV series includes both NCIS and Madam Secretary.
  • Dave’s leisure activities include learning new skills and programs as well as technical illustration. He prefers non-fiction reading and takes Udemy classes for relaxation. Dave enjoys live music and, together with Paula, frequents The Ark in Ann Arbor, a world-class venue that hosts touring artists from all over the world.

Now that you know a little more about us, I hope you will take some time to explore our blog. Our goal in creating this space is to share our experiences and our research to provide you with tips, insights, and resources to help you be comfortable integrating STEM strategies in your classroom.
We’re in this together! We’d love to hear about your thoughts, successes, and challenges as you navigate through your STEM teaching journey. Please feel free to email me or write in comments or questions to share. Dave and I will always respond.

Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.
Albert Einstein