This project has been selected as a finalist in the Environmental Education category:


Garlough Environmental Magnet School is a public school in District 197 which has partnered with Dodge Nature Center over the past eight years to collaborate in developing a nationally recognized model for elementary environmental education. Their partnership with Jeffers Foundation has also been mutually beneficial. They have been a site that has helped to pioneer the learning opportunities Jeffers provides.

Ami Thompson Consulting LLC is a new partnership our school found in the 2012-13 school year. We are doing a year-long schoolwide study of Odonata species in Minnesota.










Laser Blox . Curriculum Guide

Minneapolis— LASER Classroom Brings STEM to Light with products, curriculum and resources for teaching and learning about Light, LASERS, Photonics and Optics across the 9-12 grade curriculum.

I’ve used laser pointers in the past, and I’m happy to say that LASER Blox are a great improvement. Reliable on-off switches that stay on eliminate what had been a source of frustration in the past. The LASER Blox Housing is great innovation and the students certainly enjoyed working with the three colors.
~ Peter Hoh, Science Museum of Minnesota

Article . Pioneer Press . 03.20.2013
Laser pointers might be poised for a comeback

By Nick Woltman

When the first consumer laser pointers hit the market around 1980, they were an expensive novelty. Now, you can pick one up for $1.99 at a gas station. But if you ask Colette DeHarpporte, they’re poised for a third act. DeHarpporte is working to turn laser pointers into the educational tool of the future, taking their rightful place “alongside the chemistry kits and the microscopes.” But she faces an uphill battle. Laser Classroom, the company she bought from her father in 2008, has been in slow decline for the past couple of years. “I took a product that was on its way out and said, ‘How do I take what’s here and transform it into something that has any kind of a future?’ ” DeHarpporte said.When her dad, Dean DeHarpporte, began operating OnPoint Laser out of his home in the late 1990s, laser pointers were becoming increasingly popular and affordable. A meteorologist who worked on energy projects, he later was a tech writer for Digital Equipment Corp. in Minneapolis, where he learned HTML just as the Internet was beginning to open new doors for small businesses across the country. “He rode that wave of laser pointers and got in on the ground floor of e-commerce,” Colette DeHarpporte said of her father. “A lot of factors came together. It was really the perfect storm.”

At its peak in 2006, OnPoint sold $1.5 million worth of laser pointers, mainly to retailers, government agencies and health care providers. But by 2008, business was slowing down and Dean DeHarpporte was ready to retire. He sold the flagging company to his daughter, a former curriculum developer for both the University of St. Catherine and the University of Minnesota who set out to turn it around. Colette DeHarpporte renamed the company Laser Classroom and drew upon her background in education to develop new applications for the technology. Two years of research yielded Laser Blox, an hourglass-shaped laser device housed in plastic and designed specifically for student use.

DeHarpporte also hired Yvonne Ng, director of the Center for STEM Elementary Education at St. Kate’s, to write a STEM-based curriculum describing some of the ways Laser Blox could be used in the classroom. STEM stands for “science, technology, engineering and math.” Peter Hoh, an instructor at the Science Museum of Minnesota in St. Paul, says he saw the educational potential in Laser Blox almost immediately. He’s used laser pointers in his Light & Lasers Learning Lab for years but has been frustrated by their limitations. For one thing, he says, needing to hold down a button to keep them on means he’s had to do many of his experiments one-handed. Although it may seem trivial, the on-off switch on Laser Blox was a big selling point for him. “It seems to me she knew what teachers needed in a classroom setting,” Hoh said of DeHarpporte. Hoh says the Science Museum bought 63 Laser Blox from her shortly after they were first released about a year ago, adding that they may buy more.

DeHarpporte says Laser Blox have been met with similar enthusiasm among other educators she’s talked to. Unfortunately, enthusiasm doesn’t pay the bills. “It’s one thing to have people say, ‘Wow, that’s really interesting,’ ” she said. “It’s another thing to have them actually make a purchase.” And with sales of conventional laser pointers — still about 60 percent of her business — continuing to slide, she can’t wait much longer. She projects about $500,000 in sales for 2013, a goal she says is within her reach. But she estimates she’ll have to triple that for the company to remain sustainable — she would like to draw a salary as well as continue research and development.

Once the business is profitable, DeHarpporte plans to hire former teachers to aid her in expanding the Laser Blox curriculum and developing new products. She’s already working with the Science Museum to develop activities that can be marketed to schools and other museums. Despite the apparent drop in popularity of laser pointers overall, DeHarpporte is optimistic they have a real future in the classroom. “That really is the market I’m committed to serving — getting light, lasers and optics into the hands of kids,” She said. “It really is the next frontier of science.”

Nick Woltman can be reached at 651-228-5189. Follow him on Twitter at @nickwoltman.










5 for 5! Five GDUSA awards across five categories for five clients

Minneapolis – Graphic Design USA has honored Zydeco Design with five American Graphic Design Awards across five different categories for five clients.

Zydeco Design won awards for: Alexis Bailly Vineyard .  The Firm . National Black MBA Association Twin Cities . Swanson Flo . Orman Guidance Research

Pictured: Alan Tse . Nathalie Wilson . Rosemary Ugboajah