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Creating a Poof and Not a Giant Kaboom

A passion for science education led Linda Jeschognig from her life in accounting to a second act as an entrepreneur. She talks about the inspiration behind Hands-on Labs and overcoming the obstacles with a company created to send kits containing hydrochloric acid, cobalt nitrate and other hazardous elements to college chemistry students. Along the way, Jeschofnig has gained support and reached out to guide other women on the entrepreneurial path. Created by Kauffman Foundation.

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Video transcript

- My name is Linda Jeschofnig. My company is Hands-On Labs and we produce science lab packs that are used by college students so that they can take their science courses fully online. When you're doing science experiments the objective is the reaction not the size of the reaction. I like to say you only need a poof to understand gas law you don't have to have a giant kaboom. You don't need to have huge beakers of chemicals when small quantities will work to see whether or not there is a physical change in the chemical. So by applying these concepts we're doing the same types of experiments on a much smaller scale. This makes it possible for students to do campus equivalent lab work at home. I was compelled to make a business out of it. The big obstacles were to find someone who could manufacture them for me and liability insurance. If you're putting together a hundred chemistry kits and they have over 60 chemicals in them you're looking at over 6,000 little individual packages. These kits are not toys. They truly do replicate what students do on campus and you can imagine if you go talk to an insurance agent and you tell them that you need business insurance 'cause you're sending hydrochloric acid to students in their homes and they run screaming away. But I found an insurance agent who had actually been a chemistry major in college who was familiar with small scale and microscale chemistry. He had no problem with insuring us. Today we produce science lab packs for colleges in every state in the US and spanning not just chemistry but also biology, geology, physics, microbiology, and anatomy and physiology that are used by a lot of nursing programs and even forensics and environmental sciences. We've been doing this for 18 years, have a 100% safety record and I think most importantly the students have proven that they can and they will take responsibility for their own learning. That they can do real science work at home. I really am passionate about science education. Science teaches rational skepticism and dissuades magical thinking and it just lays a pattern for problem solving that I think will aid almost anyone in living a more successful life because they'll make better decisions.