Our Team

The STEM Learning Lab Team


Gina pic2

Dr. Gina Cherkowski
Founder and CEO
Contact: gina@stemlearninglab.com

Dr. Cherkowski is an educational game changer on a mission to ensure all students have access to high quality STEM learning experiences so they are aptly prepared for our technology-driven, dynamic world.

Dr. Cherkowski holds a PhD in Mathematics Education as well as in Culture Studies in Education. She has extensive experience in teaching and learning as a remediation specialist, a classroom teacher, and as a university professor for both undergraduate and graduate courses in education both in Canada and internationally.

Gina believes that play, exploration and meaning are critical factors for learning for all students. Gina strongly advocates that all students require and deserve opportunities to participate in high-level, hands-on, engaging and meaningful learning experiences so they are able to meet the demands of the 21st Century. Gina and her team believe that STEM Education combined with Arts and Entrepreneurialism provide pivotal learning opportunities that equip children with the skills, tools and mindsets they need for the 21st Century.

Dr. Cherkowski understands that math is a gatekeeper for many students. As a social justice math educator and learning activist, Gina believes that all kids can and should be proficient in math as well as the other STEM fields and fights to make this a reality. Her current research explores teaching math conceptually using spatial temporal reasoning to facilitate a deep understanding of mathematics for diverse learners. Another area of interest is the development of visual spatial skills through interaction in highly engaging, hands-on STEM and STEAM projects like coding, robotics and Maker Education.

Gina brings her passion for learning, her belief that all students deserve success, and her expertise as a learning scientists and a STEM specialist to the STEM Learning Lab team. Gina is available for Mathematics and STEM related speaking engagements and professional development sessions.

See Gina’s Math as Social Justice TEDx Talk here and Igniting a Generation by Disrupting Education TEDx Kelowna here


Scott Pickard
Acting Business Development and Operations

Following completion of Emergency Medical Technician/Paramedic training in 1991, Scott started his career in Emergency Medical Services, working in both urban and rural emergency services roles. For 9 years, he developed and facilitated safety and emergency services programs in the private sector and at numerous post-secondary institutions in Canada.

Electing to change careers, Scott completed a B.Sc. (Hons) in Computer Information Systems in 2000. Following completion, he joined an early stage software company as a programmer and moved through the organization to become Chief Operating Officer. Scott took a lead role in commercializing the product to successful market entry on a national scale. Scott was also a founding member of an internet start-up that won the international “Next Billion Dollar” competition for $1,000,000, sponsored by VC firm Draper Fischer Jurvetson. In addition to his leadership role in the software and services sector, Scott has worked in a managerial and business development capacity with global pharmaceutical companies.

In the fall of 2006, Scott accepted the dual role of Chief Operating Officer for both the largest equine veterinary referral/surgical practice in Canada, Moore Equine Veterinary Services Ltd., and Business Infusions Inc., a veterinary PIMS software company. Scott was instrumental in the initial market entry strategy and execution of Business Infusions and as of July 2008, was appointed as President and Chief Executive Officer. Scott led the international expansion of the software and the merger with a practice management consultancy firm in Texas to create Inova in June of 2014. Scott is a founding partner of Inova and leads the software and corporate development business unit.

Scott has also been a Board Director/Chair of a developmental lender, a real estate property management company and currently sits on the Board of a publicly traded software company. Scott is Chair of a CEO Round Table group of early stage technology companies/CEO’s and works with other technology companies in an advisory capacity.


Kendle Butterworth
Director of Professional Development
Specializing in Dramatic Arts and Creativity

Kendle is an education specialist in the area of Transformative Pedagogies and STEAM Education. Kendle earned a Masters Degree in Science in Secondary Education from the State University of New York at Albany and her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Government and Plan II Honors from the University of Texas in Austin. Kendle also holds a Masters in Arts Degree in Geography from the University of Colorado at Boulder. As a classroom teacher, Kendle’s teaching areas included social studies, writing, and theatre. As a educational leader, Kendle aims to empower teachers to unleash their creative potential while increasing their capacities with technologies and the Arts through the incorporation of Inquiry, Design Thinking and 21st Century Pedagogies.


Stacey Benson
Director of Curriculum and Instruction
Contact: stacey@stemlearninglab.com

Stacey joins our organization from the United States as a high school science teacher specializing in STEM practices and science inquiry. She loves opportunities that foster life-long learning, and thoroughly enjoys the mutual development of meaningful curricular experiences. Stacey is passionate about STEM Learning Lab’s mission to empower ALL students to pursue their dreams by being equipped with the problem-solving, creative, and collaborative skills necessary for success in our exciting and rapidly-changing society. Outside of work, Stacey is pursuing a degree in engineering at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, and loves spending time with her family through hiking, camping, traveling, and marathoning adventures.


Krista Malden
Director of Communications
Contact: krista@stemlearninglab.com

With a background in music and a passion for writing
and community, Krista started her journey to learn music in the jazz
program at Mount Royal. Aside from being a drummer and percussionist,
she teaches drum set lessons, hand drumming and holds percussion
clinics. Krista has volunteered for many charities, but the charity
closest to her heart is Calgary’s The Doorway!
Krista has also enjoyed working in sales and marketing for corporate and
non-profit organizations for many years. She is always looking for ways
to connect people to each other to share and grow opportunities in all
areas and this, as well as her love of education, has brought her to
STEM Education Today!


Zibusiso Mafaiti
Creative Director of Transformative Learning

Zibusiso identifies as both a Scientist and an Educator – one who is keenly interested in the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of STEM education. He is driven to empower students with STEM tools that will assist them in addressing many of society’s current and future challenges. He holds a BSc (Hons) Physics degree and a post graduate certificate in Pharmacokinetics and Bioanalytical Chemistry. In addition he has extensive experience in Clinical Research and Industrial Instrumentation. In his spare time he enjoys acting,exploring the great outdoors and travelling around the world with his adventurer wife. He combines these eclectic experiences to deliver an exciting classroom STEMperience.


Morgan Ostrander
Director of Coding Literacy

Morgan is a STEAM expert who specializes in GIS (Geographic Information Systems) and in Visual Data Representations. She uses Python scripting for mapping and data analysis, and is also certified in front-end web development (HTML, CSS and JavaScript). Morgan is also a talented musician (viola) who enjoys exploring the intersection between art and technology.  As a curious and creative life-long learner, Morgan loves doing calligraphy and enjoys tinkering with Little Bits, the Google Visualization API, and Adobe Illustrator. Click here to see Morgan’s video that visualizes musical complexity with calligraphy strokes. To see Morgan’s professional portfolio, click here.


Prabina Bhandari
Director of Early STEM Curriculum
Contact: prabina@stemlearninglab.com

Prabina is an avid believer in the importance of learning in the early years of child’s life. She believes, it is through play and exploration that children acquire knowledge, skills and abilities that become the foundation for lifelong learning and development. Prabina has a multitude of experience in researching, teaching and implementing science, technology, math and creativity in schools, early childhood programs, non-profit organizations and IT industry. She has an exposure of child’s right brain development in Japan, and Canada and is impressed by Sichida Method of early childhood learning. She went to Reggio Emilia, Italy to study Reggio-inspired philosophy and project based approach of teaching to children and has designed age-appropriate, customized curriculum to meet child’s need. Prabina uses her many talents and her deep pedagogy in early learning to design creative and innovative curriculum for our littlest learners.


Lin Farnholz
Director of Operations

Lin has multiple years of Administrative experience to go along with her two degrees from Nipissing University: a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology (with a minor in English) and a Bachelor of Education, specializing in the primary/junior division (K-6).
Understanding, helping and life long learning have always been of strong importance to Lin. Teaching with the Calgary Board of Education reinforced her belief that a child’s development can help lead children, and our society, to great things. Assisting them in their learning quickly became a passion. One of Lin’s main goals in life is to help others become the best version of themselves. She believes that education is the best way make our world a better place.

When she’s not in the office, Lin loves painting, reading and managing the crazy world of her own two children.


Markus Salvador
Director of IT
Contact: markus@stemlearninglab.com

Markus graduated from SAIT in the field of Information Technology with a major in software development. Markus developed his love for programming during his computer programming courses in high school where he was inspired to develop a robotics curriculum along side his computer programming teacher and two of his fellow classmates. Markus has a passion for teaching, tinkering and playing with technology.  In his free time, Markus likes to get explore the city with friends, travel, or just relax and play some video games.


Aneeq Qayyum
Youth Instructor and Engineering Specialist
Contact: aneeq@stemlearninglab.com

Aneeq is a co-op student from the University of Victoria, where he is working toward a degree in electrical engineering. He combines his knowledge and volunteer experiences with other STEM oriented organizations to produce and teach various curriculums for different age groups. Working with STEM Learning Lab, Aneeq hopes to inspire youth to develop new technology skills and consider pursuing STEM degrees in the future. In his spare time, Aneeq enjoys designing circuits, making videos, photography, and programming.


Anna Cherkowski
Director of Programs
Contact: anna@stemlearninglab.com

Anna is a curious and creative scientist with a passion for teaching and learning. Anna enjoys inspiring children by engaging them in hands-on science, coding, maker, art and robotics education. She is highly motivated to engage and guide students’ understanding of STEM and how it applies to our everyday lives. Anna loves animals as much as she loves children. In her spare time, she volunteers at veterinarian clinics and puppy-sits for family and friends. Anna also loves playing competitive tennis, soccer, and equestrian riding.


Suzanne Presinal
Master Maker
Contact: suzanne@stemlearninglab.com

Suzanne is a Master Maker who loves to collect interesting items and make creative art pieces from them. She is a talented artist with a background as a graphic artist and a website designer and programming instructor. Suzanne inspires youth and adults through her uniquely creative art and making. Suzanne enjoys collage, painting, and creative making. In her spare time, Suzanne volunteers at the Esker Foundation and helps out with the Mini Masters classes for children under 10years of age.


Michael Beals
Youth Instructor and Engineering Specialist

Michael is a curious individual with a passion for learning currently studying Mechanical Engineering at the University of Waterloo. He has engaged youth by volunteering at the Calgary Zoo, building STEAM installations as part of Beakerhead, and creating new experiments at the local science center in Waterloo. Michael’s goal in life is to inspire youth to instill creativity in everything they do and aspires to become an astronaut as part of that journey. In his free time Michael likes to be out in nature paddling and hiking or learning new songs on the drums.


Robert Graham-Hu
Robotics Learning Leader

Robert Graham-Hu is creative and curious technology enthusiast who is currently studying Systems Design Engineering at the University of Waterloo.  During high school, Robert was Team Lead for the FIRST Robotics Team 5630 where he found his passion for engineering, teamwork, and teaching. Using his skills of leadership and teaching from FIRST Robotics, Robert hopes to inspire others as he shares his passion for the wonderful world of STEM. In his free time, Robert enjoys playing and composing music as well as playing competitive video games.


Joshua Lecoupe
Robotics and Biomechanics Instructor

Josh is an innovative Biomechanist with an interesting educational background rooted in both Kinesiology and Mechanical Engineering. Josh has a unique research background in human kinetics through the internationally recognized Human Performance Lab at the University of Calgary. Currently, Josh is working toward becoming a high school teacher focusing on Physics and Physical Education, with aspirations of being a high performance football coach. In addition to instructing at STEM Learning Lab, Joshua also works as a strength and conditioning coach at the Winter Sport Institute aiding in the development of elite youth athletics. In his spare time, Joshua is an amateur Olympic Weightlifter who enjoys building aquariums and terrariums for his tropical pets!


Tracy Beairsto
Executive Advisor
Contact: tracybbai@shaw.ca

Tracy is a Chartered Professional Accountant and also holds an MBA from the University of Calgary. Tracy brings her passion for girls in STEM along with a wealth management skills, financial analysis, due diligence, financial modelling and business planning, strategy, contract negotiation and corporate budgeting skills. Through her company, Beairsto Business Analytics Inc., (in partnership with Alan Beairsto), Tracy has extensive experience in all areas of management, including human resources, marketing, project management and logistics, IT management and legal/contract management. Private equity deals and angel investing are also two areas of recent focus. Tracy also mentors and coaches executives, managers and students in for-profit and non-profit organizations.

Tracy has also completed the MRU Non-profit Management Certificate, as she has volunteered in many capacities over the last twenty years for many non-profits across Calgary. She has the privilege of serving as Treasurer of The Prosser Charitable Foundation with her great mentors, Eric and Kathy Prosser; has served also on a Calgary Foundation granting committee, is an Advisor to the Immigrant Access Fund, worked with Social Venture Partners in granting, and continues to help out in many capacities with non-profits with a specific focus on children and youth, for which she shares a passion.

Tracy is a life-long learner in many fields, including golf, travel, physics, economics, technology, psychology, soul-work and her favorite, music! Click here to see Tracy at her new passion – singing with Calgary’s Cool Choir https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ccjp4kfSy6I


RitaEgiziiRita Egizii
Education Consultant
Design-Thinking, Entrepreneurship and Innovation

Rita has an eclectic background which includes neuroscience, business, arts and education. Throughout Rita’s life, she received amazing opportunities to empower others, grow businesses and create opportunities for under-serviced group. As a result, she has received many awards and recognitions including Canadian Women Entrepreneur of the Year (Western Regional Finalist), Global Television/YWCA Woman of Vision, the Western Legacy Award for Innovation, the UCalgary WRC Distinguished Alumna Award, and one of the University of Calgary’s highest honours, the Order of the University of Calgary. She is a founding Director of the Quickdraw Animation Society, the Chickwagon! Foundation for Women, Wellspring Calgary, Legacy of Tao (US-based) and the STEAM360 Foundation.
Currently, Rita is a sessional instructor for the Werklund School of Education (University of Calgary) and Royal Roads University (Victoria, BC). She teaches creativity & innovation, entrepreneurship and assessment. She is completing her Doctorate (Leadership). Her thesis work is investigating the use of business models and frameworks to innovate pedagogy and curriculum. She also serves on various Boards, Advisory Groups and committees in both the for-profit (education, small business, entrepreneurship, investment, international business) and not-for-profit sectors (arts, education, health care, community development, women’s issues, fund-raising).


STEM Learning Lab’s Board of Advisors:

Evan Hu
Successful Serial Tech Entrepreneur
Angel Investor and Venture Capitalist
is a serial entrepreneur who co-founded and was co-CEO of the ERP technology consulting firm OmniLogic which grew to over 500 staff in five offices across Canada before being acquired in 1998 by PriceWaterhouseCoopers. He was one the original founders of Canada’s largest independent music label MapleCore, the charity UEnd, and Ideaca, a management and technology consulting firm until it was acquired by Hitachi Solutions in 2013. Evan is a certified executive coach working with entrepreneurs, executives and senior managers of start-up and high growth enterprises. He is an active tech investor both as investment angel and venture capital limited partner.


Robert Martellacci
MA EdTech, President, MindShare Learning Technology,
Co-founder & President, C21 Canada
Robert has over 25 years of expertise in the learning and technology space as an administrator at York University and Country Manager at TLC Canada School Division.  His board appointments include: Past Chair, Canadian eLearning Enterprise Alliance and board member York U IRLT. Robert was recently appointed to the ICTC CTIC Task Force on Driving Change Education and Skills DigitalTalent2020 in 2016. Under his leadership MindShare learning, with the support of C21 Canada, he was also awarded the Chair’s Global Partnership Award for outstanding work nationally and internationally for taking a leadership role in connecting industry and education.


Ryan Clements: Entrepreneur, Lawyer and Author
Consultant and Business Advisor

Ryan isn’t only an advisor to STEM Learning Lab, he is a successful entrepreneur, lawyer, speaker and consultant. Ryan delivers high-performance consulting services and empowering training content for a variety of businesses and organizations.  He conducts workshops and delivers presentations on networking, entrepreneurialism, marketing, sales training, program development, customer service, performance mindset and motivation. He also speaks widely on career fulfilment, transition and planning, and has delivered a TEDx talk on this subject.

Ryan is the author of the book Unsuited: How We Can Reject Conventional Career Advice And Find Empowerment, and is also a freelance writer and blogger on the topics of performance, entrepreneurialism, motivation, productivity, marketing, and career planning for many online publications.  He is also a partner in a highly successful global direct marketing business where he trains and provides leadership to many thousands of sales consultants worldwide.  In his spare time, he volunteers his time as a an entrepreneurial coach, mentor and strategic advisor.