Peter Bohacek & Matt Vonk
High school physics teacher Peter Bohacek and college physics professor Matt Vonk were frustrated with the limits of classroom teaching. “We disliked the compartmentalization that you’re either doing a lab or you’re doing a lecture. There are a lot of things that would be great for students to learn that you can’t do in your classroom, yet you don’t want to just draw a picture or describe them,” Bohacek says. So in 2016, the duo launched Pivot Interactives, an online science education platform. When you can’t conduct certain experiments in the classroom or at home, Pivot Interactives offers the next best thing: interactive virtual experiments. It’s more than just videos; teachers and students can adjust variables such as slope or chemical measurements to see how the changes affect outcomes. The first few years, Pivot Interactives sold a little here and there, but it wasn’t much, Bohacek says. Then came Covid and the need for remote learning. Between March and September 2020, Pivot Interactives’ sales and volume increased 50-fold. Entire school districts, including Minneapolis and Washington, D.C., began using the videos to teach science classes. Their next goal? Proving to their customers that interactive videos have value even when students are back in the classroom. The co-founders continue to broaden their content and will soon be developing programming for middle-schoolers.
On Vonk’s radar:
“What is inspiring to me, in both brick-and-mortar and online tech, is the creation of community. I live right by a Mill City Running store and, pre-Covid, they would host several runs a week and people would just get together. I see the same thing happening online with platforms like Strava, where it’s creating this community of people who have shared goals and shared ambitions.”