sprout & co is now Powderhouse. This site is now archived.

Our mission is to make science a cultural activity. We spend our time developing programs to prototype our ideas for hardware, software, & media which support scientific investigation.

Our Work

We’re always looking for sandboxes where we can explore novel ways of supporting playful, scientific investigation—and developing the tools and materials that requires. Got a lead on something that might interest us? Let us know!


Over the past few years, we've been working with the City, school district, and other Somerville community members to start a new high school, an Innovation School, extending the themes behind sprout's previous work: project-based learning, storytelling, computational thinking, and a deep integration with the community. We began this journey back in 2012, and we are still going strong, piloting some of our ideas at the Healey School, receiving a grant to support our ongoing work on this project from The XQ Institute, and continuing to work with SPS to move the project forward.


The 7th and 8th grades at Somerville's Healey School brought us on board to implement project-based STEAM curricula in their middle grades. During the 2016-17 school year, we worked with 7/8 staff to design, develop, and deploy 3 week long, project-based programs across their math, science, ELA, and social studies classes. Moving forward, we are continuing to work closely with staff to incorporate this type of work and approach into their regular classroom curricula in an ongoing way, providing professional development and consulting in the upcoming school year.


Turtle Geometry is one of sprout's longest-running projects. Inspired by Abelson & DiSessa's classic book, Turtle Geometry, the various incarnations of this seminar have explored—among other things—how computation can unlock simulation, differential geometry, topology, and art. Participants range from six-year old children to math educators to college students to practicing artists & engineers. These groups work in environments like Scratch, Processing, and NodeBox, and as part of this long-term endeavor we are also working to develop our own, LOGO-like Javascript environment called itch.js.

About Us

sprout grew from our collective desire for rich, social learning experiences. That desire has become a driving interest in the design of tools & media to support creative investigation into computation and storytelling. Interested in working with us? Let us know!

Compelled by computation's potential to transform learning, Alec cares about the tools we use to think & explore. Before sprout, he studied math & physics and co-founded nublabs, an electromechanical design firm where he built learning tools & toys.
Shaunalynn believes that learning is doing and doing is power. She believes we disempower young people when we underestimate them and don't support them in doing the things they are capable of doing. She also plays brass music, programs computers, draws pictures, and rides bikes.
Molly joined sprout & co. in 2015. Combining a background in biology with an infectious love for nature, young people, and all living things, she believes in the power of strong relationships to support deep, human development. She also dances, runs, and takes photographs.

Our Blog

Here’s where we occasionally write about our work in an attempt to better understand our experiences, both personal & professional. Related: over at our tumblr, you can find something of a scrapbook of inspiring and provocative tidbits we run across.

How Children What?

John Holt and Paul Tough are a half-century apart. Both were interested in children and how they learned. One wrote a book called How Children Learn, the other a book called How Children Succeed. Their juxtaposition has a lot to tell us about how we think about and treat our young people.

In 1967, John Holt published How Children Learn. In 2013, Paul Tough published How Children Succeed. Holt was following up on the publication of his 1964 book, How Children Fail. Beginning in 1952, Holt taught elementary and middle...

Learners Legible

Educators talk a lot about 'personalization.' Is the animating purpose of "personalization" in to render students legible? If it is, could Sal Khan take the Hippocratic oath?

"The fallacy is to believe that under a dic­ta­torial government you can be free inside." — George Orwell, 'As I Please' inBloom's mission is to "inform & involve each student & teacher with data & tools designed to personalize learning." Focus on that word, "personalize." At the moment, this is an...

Some Observations
on Habits

For some school is a place and others it is a process. For all, it is an institution. And institutions need rituals. To most, these rituals seem the mechanics enabling school's nominal goal: knowledge transfer. But habits can define us, and perhaps the cumulative effects of our time's texture are more important than how we use that time in the first place.

Every morning, I brush my teeth. "One, two, three, four, five, six, seven." I brush in multiples of seven. I shift the toothbrush over one tooth. "One, two, three, four, five, six seven." And I repeat....