Wife-and-husband team Stacey Salmanson and Josh Salmanson co-founded Brainiacs, an innovative science, technology, engineering and math enrichment program for local students pre-K through high school. Brainiacs brings their love of STEM to students and parents through classes, after-school enrichment curriculum, and hands-on camps where kids delve into diverse topics like robotics and coding.

“We believe that age doesn’t always dictate ability, drive and interest trump talent, and safely making mistakes offers the best learning experience.” – Brainiacs

What inspired you to start Brainiacs?
Brainiacs started out of what felt like a pretty severe parenting crisis. About a year and a half ago, our youngest daughter, then 5 years old, came home from school one day and when we asked her what she did in math that day, she told us that she wasn’t good at math because she was a girl.
Needless to say, my husband and I were horrified that a 5-year-old was already picking up on these terrible stereotypical beliefs — beliefs that in our opinion were antiquated and wrong.
From that moment on, we were determined to not only change her beliefs but find a way to help all kids gain confidence in math and all other STEM subjects.
How did Brainiacs go from idea to reality?
In the span of five months, we established our branding, secured a location, managed the physical build-out, hired a staff and developed and procured our curriculum and materials. We went from ideation to grand opening in six months. It’s pretty amazing for us to look back on what we accomplished in 2018.
How did you identify the local need for Brainiacs?
At first, we looked for existing programs in our area of Western Loudoun, but finding none, we decided to research existing franchises and licensing programs.
After finding that there were no great options for comprehensive STEM training in the franchise space, we made the difficult decision to build our own STEM learning center from scratch. We have both been very successful in our roles in commercial and government efforts so it was now our turn to do our part to help not only our own daughter, but all the other kids and families struggling with preparing their kids for life as well.
Our goal and objectives were to comprehensively provide these building block skills in a way that would make learning STEM fun, engaging and safe and empower kids to experiment and learn through failure and success. Schools today are so geared toward teaching toward a specific test objective that the real learning gets minimized.
We experienced many of these issues with our older kids as they worked their way through the public school systems and saw firsthand their frustrations with this approach… we were convinced our approach, mission and goals were sound.
What projects are you most excited about for 2019?
At this point, we are still refining our programs, delivery offerings and continuing to expand our curriculum and capabilities. 2019 is going to be a fantastic year. Brainiacs as a business operates around the following main learning delivery mechanisms, including STEM classes and before and after-school supplemental STEM learning program at our center, summer, winter and spring-break camps, birthday parties and corporate events such as bring your child to work day.
Multiple schools including Providence Academy, Lovettsville Elementary and Ken Culbert Elementary have brought Brainiacs on to provide their after school enrichment programs, with more elementary schools coming on board in 2019,
In January 2019, we will launch Brainiacs’ Discover Academy, a half-day hands-on STEM learning program for 3-5-year-olds. Our program uses a tried and true research based early education curriculum. Along with our curriculum, each child will receive a personalized learning experience by integrating lessons using STEM and the foundational blocks of early learning.
Our values are to blend our love of STEM along with our educational philosophy to create and inspire thinkers and makers. Young learners are natural explorers, creators and adventurers. Our approach goes above and beyond to ensure children thrive and develop the learning skills they need to be successful in their futures.
WashingtonExec is hosting the annual K-12 STEM Symposium on March 30, 2019. The event is free and open to the public, but attendees are asked to register in advance.