Extracurricular Activities

As part of our “whole student, whole success” strategy, MyEdMaster offers students exciting extra-curricular activities.  These activities are designed to help students develop new skills and experiences they normally would not have and build their resumes as they apply to colleges and elite high schools. We’ve learned that students need to stand out in life in order to get ahead, and our programs are designed to help students do just that.

AI-based educational software:

AI-based educational software is a student-created technology company that creates educational software that uses artificial intelligence, machine learning, natural language processing, and voice technologies to enhance the learning process.  We are currently working on Algebra I and reading software.  Our immediate goal is to build a commercial software project for Algebra I. This is an accomplishment that most high school and middle schoolers do not achieve and we’ve seen many of our participating students get into Ivy League and other top colleges as well as Thomas Jefferson and Academies of Loudoun.  Academy of Engineering and Technology even told one of our students “We selected you because of your involvement with AI-based educational software.”  Students with interests in computer programming, developing math curriculum, creative writing, or business are welcome to participate.  We have an excellent team led by Dr. Leddo, who has worked in the field of AI and education for 30 years and Yihong Sun, an MBA.  They are complemented by the head of a small software development company (that is helping us develop the product), a professional product manager and two masters degree graduates of the computer science department of George Washington University and one from George Mason University.  Any parents who want to help mentor kids are welcome to participate as well.

To date, we have three outstanding success stories.  We have compared the effectiveness of our software against Khan Academy’s (the leading online educational software with over 10 million users) and Pearson Education’s (the world’s largest textbook publisher). Even though we had our students competing against leading companies, staffed with full-time professionals, our software won decisively both times.  Students using our software performed 80% higher than those using Khan Academy’s and 300% higher than those using Pearson’s.  Our results were published in several scientific journals and presented at an educational technology conference.  After beating Khan Academy, the students at AI-based educational software were hired by a local company to build an AI-based training system for cybersecurity for which they were paid. Many students received recognition for their success through these publications and commercial success, and, as I mentioned above, got rewarded by admissions to top colleges and elite high schools.

The technology company project meets 12-2 on Sundays at our Herndon center.  Tuition is the standard $32 per hour for tutoring.  Because the project meets during lunchtime, we bring in free lunch for the kids.

Scientific Research and Publishing in Scientific Journals

Many of our students are interested in STEM careers.  The heart of STEM is research and sharing that research so others can build on the work.   While students in school learn the science we already know, professional scientists make new discoveries and share their findings by publishing in professional journals.  Our scientific research program teaches students how to do original research, then they conduct experiments and publish their findings in scientific journals. MyEdMaster created this program because most high school kids applying to college do not publish scientific papers and those who do typically get into top colleges, and we’ve seen no middle school student outside our centers publish scientific papers, so this creates an opportunity for our middle schoolers to stand out.  To date, we have had over 100 students successfully conduct research and publish their work in scientific journals.  Their papers have been read by some 30,000 scientists from around the world.  These kids are making a difference.  Many have published more than one paper, and we’ve seen as many as five publications from a single student by the time he applied to college.

The scientific research program is conducted like a mentorship program the way that university graduate schools do.  Dr. John Leddo, who has published more than 60 scientific papers himself, personally mentors each student throughout the entire process.  Together, the students have had some exciting success stories.  In addition to the projects described above where students created educational software that beat two industry leaders, other significant publications include:

- Showing that a Nobel prize winning theory of economics is wrong and what the correct theory should be
- Showing that playing videogames cooperatively with others boosts teamwork skills while playing them competitively hurts teamwork skills
- Helping clarify a debate in the scientific literature as to what type of homework is most effective for what type of student
- Helping clarify a debate in the scientific literature as to what type of homework is most effective for what type of student
- Showing the proper role of teachers when students try to teach themselves new subjects
- Three projects, each resulting in publications, showing how to boost reading and writing scores on the SAT
- A simple method for boosting math performance in elementary school kids
- How best to teach Java programming to middle school students

Our scientific research program is taught on a tutoring basis throughout the school year at both Herndon and Ashburn centers.  Tuition is $32 per hour.  During the summer, we have a special workshop at the end of the school year to teach students how to do the research.  Then, most students do their research during our summer day program.

Technology Student Association TEAMS (TSA TEAMS)

One of our most popular extra-curricular activities is TSA TEAMS, sponsored by the Technology Student Association.  TSA TEAM gives students a wide-ranging exposure to different activities such as mathematics, research and technical writing, public speaking, and hands-on building.  Students compete at both state and national levels in teams of four to eight students.  Typically, we compete in the middle school division and this is a great activity for students applying to Thomas Jefferson or Academies of Loudoun.  

The course is taught by a retired engineer, with assistance from Dr. Leddo.  We typically win the top spots at the state competition and to date, all of our teams have qualified for the national competition. In 2019, we won the top five places in Virginia and our teams won 8 medals at the national championship.

The state competition class runs from January to March and the national competition class runs from April to the beginning of July.

First Lego League (FLL) Robotics

MyEdMaster conducts robotics classes leading to the FLL competition.  In this class, students learn to build and program robots, conduct research, and do public speaking.  This is also a great activity for students applying to Thomas Jefferson or Academies of Loudoun.  The course is taught by a retired engineer, who has a coaching assistant that focuses on teaching kids how to build and program robots.  

The competition format starts at the regional level.  Top scorers at the regional level advance to the state level.  Many of our teams have advanced to the state level. One team performed well enough at the state level and was one of 40 teams worldwide that was invited to participate in an invitation-only international tournament.  There, the team achieved 5th place in the alliance competition.

The FLL class runs from July to November, when the regional competition is held.  The Herndon team meets on Saturdays from 10 am to 1 pm and the Ashburn team meets on Saturdays from 2 pm to 5 pm.   Tuition is $750, which covers coaches’ salaries, equipment and registration fees.  If the team makes it to the state level, an additional $200 is charged to cover the cost of the coaches’ salaries, entry fees and coaches’ travel costs to the competition.