Free STEM Classes Have Kids (and Parents) M.A.D. for Science
Share This Page

Free STEM Classes Have Kids (and Parents) M.A.D. for Science


When you walk into a classroom and see a full-size custom-built teeter totter and a pulley system rigged to 40-pound buckets of water, you know you’re in for some fun learning. That’s the equipment Darin Roberts built and rigged for a recent science class he teaches at the American Space Museum & Walk of Fame in Titusville.

Roberts dons a white lab coat and welcomes students with a veteran ability to relate to kids — effortlessly switching from gentle kindness to commanding bellows at just the right times — imprinting students with lessons about sound, light, magnetism, matter, propulsion and more. 

Having stepped away from a beloved 33-year career as a children’s pastor due to health reasons, Roberts found himself looking at the early iterations of the M.A.D. Science museum classes with ideas to expand. M.A.D. stands for Make a Difference, which is something he knows well, having been involved with ministry since age 16.  

Roberts’ wife, Angie Roberts, became bookkeeper at the museum after the family moved back to her native Brevard County, and he found himself in a position to offer his perspective on how to make the program more available and more “kid-friendly.”

“I look at the world through kids' eyes,” he said.

What started as one 3.5-hour class each week for 12 kids, taught by various people, expanded to three 1-hour sessions. Then interest from homeschool families sparked mid-week sessions, which resulted in overwhelming demand. And now, as of April, over 400 monthly spots are available.

“Our education program was going through an instructor change when Darin became available. He fits in wonderfully with the ASM family,” said Karan Conklin, executive director at the American Space Museum & Walk of Fame. “Our staff and volunteers love him, the parents love him, but most importantly the kids love him. Because of his enthusiasm, which is infectious, and love of teaching, Darin has taken our average STEM program and turned it on its head. We are constantly having to add more classes to keep up with the number of students registering for our M.A.D. Science workshops. Let's just say he's wonderful and I wouldn't trade him for the world.”

The kids — and parents who opt to stay for the one-hour sessions — soak up the monthly hands-on science treats prepared by Roberts. 

“We have had so much fun with the M.A.D. Science classes,” said Amanda Vasiliou of Rockledge, who brings her fifth-grade homeschooled son. “The instructor, Darin, has a contagious enthusiasm that draws in the students (and parents!) I can’t recommend these classes enough. They’re so engaging, informative, and fun.”

Does Roberts have a science background? It takes just one time witnessing his command of the classroom to conclude that he must. But he comes from a fascinating background of religion and science — which as a pastor, he blended in unique ways to make lessons resonate for kids. He spent many years incorporating physical tools — puppets, skits, slideshows — for biblical lessons. And now, with only science focus and no religious crossover in the lessons, he seamlessly has become the M.A.D. scientist everyone loves.

“I absolutely LOVE that his classes have grown exponentially in just a few short months,” said Alexia Higgins, who brings her fourth-grade twins and first-grader to the sessions from Viera. “When we first started attending last fall, he had about 40% of families that would sign up and not show. It was something that did not sit well with me as you just see his commitment to educating children radiate in each class. 

“These classes really resonate with the kids and help to bring complex science lessons to life, and the lesson really sticks with the kids. This is a true gem in Brevard County, along with the museum where it is hosted. We are truly lucky to have this kind of opportunity for our children.”

The class topic changes each month and the program — sponsored in part by the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Arts and Culture, the Florida Council on Arts and Culture, and the National Endowment for the Arts — is open to elementary age students, ages 5-12. Some older siblings wind up participating by default, and, well, we’ve addressed the fascination from parents.

Classes on the schedule include:

  • What a Bright Idea: Lights, Lasers and Refraction
  • How Big is the Solar System?
  • Meteors, Asteroids and Craters
  • Telling Robots What to Do
  • That’s Just Cold — Cryogenics
  • Basics of Electronics — LEDs, Resistors, Capacitors and More!
  • Amazing Water
  • WasaMatter You?
  • The Power of Air
  • Shocking Magnetism
  • Roaring Rockets
  • Spinning Spaceships
  • Visual Sound
  • Mechanical Advantage: A Study of Pulleys, Gears and Levers

“My vision is try to reach as many kids as I can and get them excited about getting involved in science,” Roberts said. 

“We love M.A.D. Science with Darin. His classes are a family favorite we look forward to attending monthly,” said Megan Jantomaso, a former Brevard teacher who is now a full-time homeschool mom.

She traverses the county, driving her first-grader and pre-K student to the Titusville workshops all the way from Grant. 

“We are so thankful for such a wonderful learning opportunity. I enjoy the STEAM classes and listening to Darin just as much as the kids do,” Jantomaso said. 

Roberts grew up using tools and helped his father build restaurants — interactive learning that, coupled with severe dyslexia, meant he gravitated to and thrived with hands-on training.

“I’m 3D,” Roberts described his teaching style. “They don’t do much science until fifth grade in public school. And what they do, it’s on paper, watching videos.”

The positive effects of exposing kids to science at the earliest ages are evident. Especially on the Space Coast, where we are surrounded by advanced industries based in science.

“In our lifetimes, we tend to soak up the most information when we are young,” Angie Roberts said. “Darin and I have found through the years that a passion that you inspire in a child who is elementary age goes so much further than if they discover it later in junior or senior high.”

Darin Roberts sees that passion surface every class, when kids’ eyes go wide as he triggers sound waves that move sand into a beautiful flower shape. Or when they exert little force on a pulley and raise a bucket of water that weighs more than they do.

“My favorite word from these kids is, ‘Wow,’” Roberts said. 

It’s no wonder the families that started early in the M.A.D. Science classes don’t mind driving far and keep coming back, and why the number of monthly slots expanded from 12 to over 400.

In addition to hosting the free classes at the museum, Roberts brings science lessons to seven area elementary schools. And he’s been recording the museum classes in hopes of sharing the videos online. But, the true M.A.D. Science experience is best absorbed in person.

If You Go:
American Space Museum & Walk of Fame
308 Pine Street, Titusville, Florida 32796
Workshop information:


By the Numbers
Total attendance at M.A.D. Science classes:
2021: 144 students
2022 (during COVID): 615

Attendance through M.A.D. Science visits to elementary schools:
2022: 521 kids
2023: 537 as of March

Stay Curious Podcast for Adults
Adults, are you curious about space, too?
Check out the “Adults, Stay Curious” video podcast posted by the American Space Museum & Walk of Fame’s Mark Marquette weekdays at 4 p.m. More than 750 episodes are available so far!
Each 20- to 30-minute program is a behind-the-scenes look at the space program, with many incorporating artifacts from the museum. It also features interviews with astronauts and former space workers, including some of the legends of the Apollo and Shuttle eras who continue to support the nonprofit museum. Other topics include astronaut birthdays, what’s up in the night sky, and the latest launch information from Kennedy Space Center. 
“Stay Curious” is broadcast live on both YouTube and Facebook. Visit



« Back

The Greater Palm Bay Chamber of Commerce Space Coast Roofing Buena Vida Estates L.H. Tanner Construction Eastern Florida State College Highgrove Home Improvements