Today our guest is Jackie Fung Grundberg, one of my Montessori friends who is all about the Montessori Science guide go-to. She has taken an interesting journey, quite literally all over the world, to get to where she is now. I adore how she has combined all her passions to create her own unique thing. I’m sure you will enjoy learning more about her too.

Quick note, this post has affiliate links so if you buy something I will make a small commission (no cost to you).

Welcome Jackie, can we start about learning a bit about you…

I grew up in Southern California. I loved the beach, ocean, and endless sunshine. My love for that lifestyle is partially why I was drawn to studying science and oceanography – specifically marine mammals. This eventually transferred to environmental science and led me to work in the field as a wildlife biologist in the U.S. and Africa.

My next chapter is when I lived in Tokyo, Japan, where I started my teaching career. I lived on a U.S. military base and taught high school AP biology. When I moved to Seattle, that’s where I fell in love with the Montessori philosophy. I received my Montessori (6-12-year-olds) teaching credentials and taught in the upper elementary (9-12-year-olds) for 11 years. 

Something that I love is traveling. For me, this is the essence of who I am. I love different cultures, geography, and food. I crave experiences. Our adventures are shaping our children, and I love it! 

Jackie Fung Grundberg author of Teaching Montessori Science an Asaian woman with her family, her husband and son and daughter all smiling at the camera.
©️Jackie Fung Grundberg 

TELL US ABOUT YOUR BUSINESS

After I stopped teaching full-time in the classroom, I started working as an instructor for the Center for Guided Montessori Studies (CGMS). I helped adults earn their Montessori credentials. This is where I observed the need to support teachers who were not as comfortable with science or wanted more than our Montessori albums (curriculum) provided. 

I started Backpack Sciences (BPS) in 2019. BPS is an online membership where I help Montessori elementary educators overcome the overwhelm of teaching hands-on, experiential learning by providing ready-to-go lesson plans and follow-up activities. In that it’s a membership, I also provide individualized support and provide more than just lesson plans, for example, coaching calls, workshops, curriculum set-up, guest speakers, and other subject areas (writing, art) that supplement the lessons. 

I published a book, Teaching Montessori Science: 9 Practical Strategies to Engage Children in Hands-on STEAM Activities, to bridge the gap from Montessori philosophy to the detailed lessons in albums and the membership. It’s perfect for those who need more detailed ideas on how to get children excited with science. 

Asian girl doing a Teaching Montessori Science experiment

HOW DID YOU GET STARTED WITH THIS BUSINESS?

I really feel like I’ve meshed all of my education and experience as a wildlife biologist, Montessori teacher, and Montessori parent into one place – Backpack Sciences. 

I use my stories from my daily life and put a spin on how it applies to teaching science in my daily emails. I speak at conferences with topics on how to make science more exciting and connect with children, so that not only the children love science but so do the teachers.

I truly feel that science can solve solutions and make everything enjoy their life so much more. We should teach science every day and interweave it with every subject area. My goal is to show people how to do it easily and have fun with it. 

Jackie Fung Grundberg author of Teaching Montessori Science an asian woman with long black hair smiling

WHAT IS SOMETHING YOU HAVE STRUGGLED WITH OR A PROBLEM YOU HAVE OVERCOME AND HOW DID YOU DO IT?

I was not an extraordinary student when I was young. I got into trouble a lot for talking and goofing around. I didn’t enjoy the academic portion of school, but interestingly, people assumed it was easy for me. I’m one of those who proclaim, “If only I had gone to a Montessori school!” 

This is probably why I participated in internships at zoos, aquariums, or study abroad programs. My studies in Kenya in a wildlife management program changed my life. Incorporating hands-on experiences is how I best learn, and I want to provide that opportunity for other children. I understand how much more work it is for teachers, so that’s why I set up all the research, and details and provide the step-by-step instructions. 

WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT YOUR BUSINESS?

I love it when members of BPS share photos and stories of what happened when they implemented my lessons. I love seeing photos of children outside taking samples, or building experiments to test out a hypothesis. I’m always the one who pushes, “Let the kids get their hands dirty when they’re doing science!” 

HOW DO YOU USE YOUR CREATIVITY IN YOUR BUSINESS?

It’s important for me to show others how science can be integrated into all subject areas. This is why the follow-up activities to the lessons are interdisciplinary. This means that children may choose to demonstrate or further investigate the science concept by building an experiment, creating an artistic impression, incorporating math, geometry, or engineering connections, integrating geography, etc. This is where my creativity blooms because I love coming up with different activities.  

WHAT IS ONE THING YOU WISH YOU HAD LEARNED EARLIER IN YOUR BUSINESS JOURNEY?

You know…. I was very fortunate in my business journey. I started with absolutely zero knowledge of how or what to do, but I was able to learn it all from Stu McClaren, who helps people with developing membership. Stu has become my business mentor and leads the way on how to not only develop the skills but more importantly, the mindset and how to surround yourself with positive, supportive people who cheer each other on. 

WHAT IS SOMETHING THAT YOU ARE REALLY PROUD OF?

It may be because this is just happening right now, but I’m so proud of publishing my book. This started with my friend, who is a publisher, mentioning that I should write a book to share my knowledge. I laughed at her! I would never say that writing was one of my strengths or something I enjoyed. 

2 years later and a lot of costly, frustrating lessons learned, I have a book that I’m extremely proud of. It’s visually beautiful, and I believe it will help parents and teachers easily implement science into their learning environments. 

the cover of the Teaching montessor Science book by Jackie Fung Grundberg. Shows a girl outside doing a science experiment

AS A MOM, WHAT WORDS OF ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR OTHER MOMS STARTING THEIR OWN BUSINESS 

DO IT!! Not only are you doing something for yourself, but you’re a role model for your children. They’ll observe what happens when you focus on your passion. They’ll see how you handle bumps in the road – because it’s not going to be easy. As they witness your struggles, they also experience the fruits of your hard work. The pride and joy of what you can achieve. 

This is one thing I’m developing. I’m putting together what I’ve learned, and I have developed a course for teachers (and moms) to create supplemental income – a Side Gig. It’s creating the foundational infrastructure for a side business. It’s called Teachers Side Gig Academy. 

WHERE TO FIND JACKIE

Website: www.backpackscience.com
Instagram: @backpacksciences
Facebook: www.facebook.com/groups/backpacksciences
Book: Teaching Montessori Science: 9 Practical Strategies to Engage Children in Hands-on STEAM Activities
Membership: Backpack Science

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