What is Scinch?
Scinch is a way to teach science; we present complex topics in fun and easy to understand ways using graphics, characters, and hands-on activities. By presenting abstract scientific concepts in concrete and relatable ways, we make science accessible to all people, all ages, and all learning styles. It's time for a new approach to science education: one that inspires and excites while teaching the fundamental concepts. We are proud to blaze this trail - join us in making children's futures brighter and help us create a world where the words "science," "chemistry," "physics," "math," and "biology" are met with cheers of excitement and not groans of loathing.
Many middle and high school aged students don’t like science. There’s no reason for children to not enjoy science because they possess all qualities necessary to be a great scientist; kids are inquisitive, love to play, are enthusiastic, and are not afraid to try new things. At Scinch, we strongly believe that any child can learn to love science. Children's aversion to science comes from the way the content is presented not the content itself. Traditionally, science learning is full of complex vocabulary, very abstract concepts, and pages and pages of text. Students can be lost in an overwhelming sea of information. We teach the same complex scientific concepts and the same vocabulary through stories, characters, and hand’s on experiences in a way that budding young scientists can personally relate to.
Our Inspiration (A Note from Our President and CEO)
I was incredibly fortunate as a middle and high school aged student. In middle school I had amazing life science and physical science teachers and was heavily involved in an after-school science club called Science Olympiad. The teachers I had led me on a path of discovery where I learned about the world around me through hands-on experiments, interpretive dance (one of my fondest memories of my 8th-grade science teacher), and carefully weaved tales about the wonders of the natural world.
My luck continued in high school where I met the single best (not opinion, but fact) Chemistry teacher I have ever had the privilege of meeting. This quirky, charismatic individual was able to amass drones of high school followers and (literally) never had an empty classroom between the hours of about 6:30 am and 5 pm. She was amazing - getting even the most reluctant students to love chemistry. Her passion for science was so resonant with her students that she was able to form, and maintain, a ~15-20 person after-school chemistry club (that had such popularity it actually held interviews for interested students!) that would voluntarily spend hours and hours of their days after school and on weekends planning and performing physical science "magic shows" to members of the community.
Blowing up a KU mascot for a chemistry show at KSU
Photo credit: Hannah Colmer
You may be thinking that this must have just been a collection of science nerds—people who are somehow born with science and math in their blood—but let me assure you that was not the case! The students that were in this club with me when I was in high school are now writers, pharmacists, artists, photographers, chemists, teachers, graphics designers, environmentalists, and physicists. We weren't all scientifically minded, but one thing was never in doubt - we all loved science.
So how did this amazing chemistry teacher find a way to reach such a diverse group of individuals? Easy—she taught science in a way that was so far from "traditional" it was hardly recognizable. She had us draw out our procedures, described bonding between elements as if they were two kids "sharing" toys, and taught us periodic trends by having us imagine elements as "fat and sassy" or "small and uptight." She took science and talked about it as if atoms weren't something new, something so tiny they were impossible to see, something so abstract that even after years of scratching your head you still don't really understand them. She talked about atoms like they were old friends, full of wants and desires, quirks and unique characteristics—each one an individual with a personalized reactivity. This opened the door—for kids who were scientifically minded AND those that weren't—to the world of chemistry and got students excited about the subject they were studying, making the kids practically beg to be taught more.
Color changing chemistry.
Photo credit: Kait Snoddy
Science doesn't have to be boring; it doesn't have to be hard to understand; it doesn't have to make you feel like you want to run the other way. This was something I was taught in high school, and something I can't wait to show the rest of the world. I imagine one day, when I tell people I have a degree in chemistry, they won't groan, they won't say "you're brave," or "I hated chemistry as a kid," or "I never did understand that." Instead, they'll say "you know, I loved science as a kid."
-Jackie Rankin, President and CEO
Photo credit: Kait Snoddy
We all met in grad school at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign pursuing our dreams, and after growing as friends, we decided to grow a business together. Starting a company has been one of our many adventures together (a different adventure led to the photo here). Our shared passions keep us focused while our unique expertise helps keep our friendship and partnerships diverse and exciting!
After graduation, we were sad to leave Champaign, the birthplace of Scinch, but the adventure continues in Kansas City, KS and Martin, TN. Read more about us below, and check back here to learn about our history as it’s made!
To inspire lifelong understanding and interest in the material world by equipping students and parents across the country with simple, affordable, and hands-on learning tools.
To be a household name for families in the homeschool and education communities known for our commitment to quality education.
Jackie Rankin—President and CEO
Jacqueline (Jackie) Rankin's day-job is working in R&D at an innovative company in Kansas City, KS, but her real passion has always been making science accessible to all individuals of all ages, experience levels, and learning styles. She has a PhD in Inorganic Chemistry from the University of Illinois and Urbana-Champaign and received her bachelor’s degrees in Chemistry and Secondary Education from Kansas State University in 2011. In the past decade, she has led science-themed summer camps, tutored and taught middle, high school and college-aged students, and performed chemistry “magic” shows to audiences of all ages and scientific backgrounds. Through these activities, she has inspired and engaged thousands of individuals and promoted an understanding of and excitement for basic physical science concepts.
View Jackie's LinkedIn page.
Jen Esbenshade—VP of Marketing and Development
Jen Esbenshade is an assistant professor of chemistry at the University of Tennessee at Martin. From kindergarten through 12th grade, she was homeschooled along with her three siblings by her resolute mother. During her high school years, Jen took part in facilitating several home school co-op science classes for upper elementary students, helping to lead several 4-H projects, and tutoring at a nearby community college. After high school, she attended Messiah College, earning degrees in chemistry and mathematics. During college, she discovered that teaching was a passion that she wanted to pursue, leading her to graduate school in chemistry. She attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, earning a PhD in Materials Chemistry in January 2016. In graduate school, Jen was active in a variety of outreach programs, including doing hands-on demos at a local middle school, volunteering with a rural high school, and co-organizing a summer chemistry program for 4-H teens. Jen has a passion to develop young students’ interest in math and science and to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers. In addition to teaching college level chemistry, Jen is excited to start a mini-farm with fruit trees, a vegetable garden, chickens, and goats. She is excited to pursue research in environmental and agricultural chemistry.
View Jen's LinkedIn page.
Kory Rankin—VP of Business Operations
Kory Rankin works as a structural engineer in Lenexa, KS with an M.S. in Civil Engineering from the University of Illinois. His fascination with the built world began at an early age, as did his passion for learning. Throughout college and graduate school, he helped fund his studies by doing what he loved including bridge research, grading engineering classes, and teaching freshman level chemistry labs at the U of I. Whether its helping manage and operate Scinch, working at his day job, or training for a marathon, not unlike his business partners, Kory likes to focus on the long-term benefits of trying to instill his love of learning in his friends, family, and customers.
View Kory’s LinkedIn page.
John Overcash—VP of Technology and Development
John Overcash works at the University of Tennessee at Martin where he is an assistant professor of chemistry and co-director of the STEM Center on campus which facilitates STEM education in Western Tennessee. He has a PhD in Chemistry from the University of Illinois and a BS in Chemistry from Duke University. He has always loved learning and teaching science, and as a professor he enjoys doing many fun science demos for his students and for the community. His love of science demonstrations started early with his physicist dad bringing home liquid nitrogen, showing off conservation of momentum, and playing with lasers.
View John's LinkedIn page.