By Quinn Allen-Wardell
A local pre-school teacher from Gloucester who's developed a product line aimed at educating young children at home has taken new strides, with her star character in tow.
Beth Costanzo, owner of Majestic Harbor Community School, provides children with the opportunity to learn pre-school concepts through "The Adventures of Scuba Jack," a compilation of short films, and a state-of-the-art Web site. Although originally conceived as an educational alternative for home-schooled children, Costanzo said she became aware her product reach extends beyond that.
"Because of the hardships that so many families are experiencing in today's world," Costanzo said, "many are tuning to our products as alternatives to expensive day-care programs and pre-schools. Some families are even using 'The Adventures of Scuba Jack' as a supplement to their children's educational experiences, further honing both their thought processes and ability to interact with other children in a positive way."
When asked about her pre-school program, Costanzo recalled the local teachers who have told her how Majestic Harbor students are "quickly and easily recognized in kindergarten classrooms because they are so advanced academically."
Costanzo began to realize that her strategy toward early education would greatly benefit children beyond her local reach as well. This led to the creation of www.scubajack.tv.
The "Adventures of Scuba Jack" site offers helpful articles for parents, seminars for teachers, and assessment tools for both teachers and parents for monitoring the skill level of their children. Other activities, such as games and crafts, can be found on its ever changing site.
Costanzo noted that scubajack.tv offers videos of actual classroom lessons enforcing all of the concepts a child would learn in preschool.
"I noticed a shortage in quality pre-school education and curriculum," she said, "so I decided to do something about it." She hopes her concept will one day help to reform the pre-school educational system as we know it.
The Scuba Jack movie series, the other side of her business, Costanzo said allows her shows off her creative side. With the help of Melanie Giacalone, a elementary school teacher, and Theresa Gallo, owner of Gallo Productions, Costanzo drew up the idea for the series. From there, the project sprung to life.
The series is set in a New England fishing village that is inhabited by exciting and colorful characters. Using real underwater footage, the cast helps young viewers learn everything from Spanish to science, while embarking on fun-filled adventures with the character Scuba Jack.
Many of the scenes from the Scuba Jack series are shot locally. Costanzo's latest video, "Tide Pools," was largely shot on Gloucester's Wingaersheek Beach.
Costanzo currently sits in third place in a national entrepreneurial competition. The winner, decided solely by the public's opinion through casting votes, will be awarded $350,000 in capital funding to be used toward furthering his or her business in the marketing world.
"Right now the sky's the limit," she said. "This product is revolutionizing both the way our children learn, and how their instructors teach. It's hard to say where this vision will take me next.
"Bookstores, aquariums, and even stores like Target are catching Scuba Jack fever," she said. "It's quite possible that in a few years, Scuba Jack will become a household name. That's all I can hope for."
For more information on Scuba Jack, visit: www.adventuresofscubajack.com or www.scubajack.tv
HELP SCUBA JACK
What: Beth Costanzo, founder of "Adventures of Scuba Jack," an interactive video curriculum for pre-schoolers, is competing in StartupNation's Elevator Pitch Contest, to win $350,000 in venture capitol funding. The "Adventures of Scuba Jack" video was produced and filmed locally in Cape Ann.
How: To vote for Costanzo's video pitch, copy the link http://www.startupnation.com/elevator-pitch-2009/contestant/4745/index.php and paste into your browser and click on the stars.
You can vote once a day through Friday, March 20.