Rubber Duck Lab is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to inspiring a love of learning in all students! Our mission is to increase the future potential for every student in our community by expanding their horizons. To do this, we promote equitable access to project-based learning, 21st century skill development, and new technologies through active exploration, collaboration, and creativity; online, in the classroom, and within our community.
At Rubber Duck Lab we envision a future where every student has increased potential and endless possibilities for their future, allowing them to compete in an ever changing 21st century economy. To achieve this vision, we provide FREE access to project-based learning opportunities, collaborate with cutting edge researchers, and produce education materials that empower students to actively explore the world around them, engage their creativity and imaginations, and apply 21st century skills to their problem solving abilities.
The work of Rubber Duck Lab aims to expand students’ horizons and help them compete in a dynamic academic and economic market. First founded in July of 2014 as Homeroom Education, a sole proprietorship for profit company (with a conscience), Founder Jodie Fillhardt centered the company's services on experiential and active learning opportunities through one-on-one tutoring and small group classes. However, there was such a need for the small group collaborative learning experiences that the focused shifted away from tutoring, additional faculty and staff were hired, and in 2017 a makerspace was added to the Homeroom Education facilities.
In fall of 2018, Fillhardt restructured the management of Homeroom Education and refocused the company's services on collaborative, project-based learning opportunities and maker education that better prepared students for a dynamic academic and economic market. To further this vision, Fillhardt founded Homeroom Education, Inc. a California public facing, nonprofit corporation in December of 2018. Over the next year, Fillhardt recruited a strong Board of Directors, applied to the IRS for 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status, and guided the company through the transition from a for-profit corporation to a non-profit organization. In November 2019, to celebrate the completion of this transition, and the IRS granting of tax-exempt status, the Board of Directors unanimously voted to re-brand Homeroom Education, Inc. as Rubber Duck Lab.
Then, in March of 2020, like the rest of the country, Rubber Duck Lab participated in the necessary Shelter-In-Place practices to help slow the spread of COVID-19. At this time, Fillhardt once again led her team through another industry pivot and internal restructuring. Unwilling to put the health of employees, students, and the community at risk, Fillhardt decided to close the Makerspace for good, ended the lease on a location the organization had called home for 4-years, with the help of the RDL Team packed and moved everything into storage, and then did the one thing she had vowed never to do ... focused on distance learning. Over the summer of 2020, the RDL Team understood that the needs of families in the Bay Area, and beyond, were changing and rather than focusing on in-person educational support, Rubber Duck Lab transitioned to become an Indy educational publisher focused on k-12 curriculum and materials.
We call ourselves an education-innovation organization because we are always finding new and innovative ways of making education more interesting and engaging for students. But that is just the tip of the iceberg of who we are and what we are about. Everyday we are driven by 5 core values: Collaboration, Communication, Right to Education, Giving Away our Best for Free, and Supporting Educators, Artists, and Makers. Some of these values are part of our own pedagogies; others help us feel like we are making a positive impact in the world; all of them make us feel happy.
Here are some of the ways RDL is working to live our values:
We are giving it away: every week we provide free printable activities, experiments, and resources right here on our website... seriously, look, it's in the menu bar ... it says Free Printables. We do this because we believe education should be a right, not a privilege.
BOGO, Buy One Gift One: when you purchase an Active-Book we gift one to a student in need because, again, we believe education is a right, not a privilege. Currently, we are working with Soroptimist International Santa Clara Silicon Valley to distribute the gifted Active-Books.
Creating jobs for educators, artists, and makers: if the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us anything it is that most of us are not ready to be stuck at home 24-7 for 6 months+ with our partner and kids and be expected to work, plus teach, plus take care of the house, and cook, and walk the dog, and hey what's that smell? Is something on fire? For your sanity, our sanity, and the economy, we are here employing your own personal PPE (passionate, patient, educators).
Like Vanilla Ice we stop, collaborate, and listen: that's right, we went there (if you ask my 4 year old to sing you the song, she will tell you that it's mommy who is back with a brand new edition). Our best materials, resources, and curriculum comes from collaborations with communities. When we are able to stop thinking we know what students want, listen to the needs of families, and collaborate with our community of ducky followers, we are able to create educational products that are more relevant, supportive, and captivating.
Fully opening the pipeline: Universities and industry executives regularly talk about there being a broken pipeline between their open program positions and students or the workforce, but they don't realize that their talent pipeline has become a trickle because the tap flowing from their institutions to k-12 was turned off years ago. We are opening the tap through science communication and broader impact support.
Whether you volunteer your time as a project tester, make a cash donation, sign up for a monthly subscription, purchase an Active-Book, or simply enjoy our free resources, your efforts are appreciated by everyone in the Rubber Duck Lab community and continues our work to increase access to educational resources, support educators, and facilitate scientific communication and collaborations.
We believe all students can embrace who they are,
can define their future, and can change the world.