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About Us

The Academy of Leonardo’s Apprentice (ALA) is not just another educational foundation–it’s a transformative experience for students.  We bring the most innovative and cutting-edge research and technology to the classroom, inspiring young minds to explore, create and innovate like never before.


Our vision is simple: to empower the next generation of scientists, engineers, and agents of change by providing them with the tools, knowledge, and motivation to succeed.  We believe that all students have the capability to be great, and through our programs and initiatives, we aim to unlock that potential and help them reach their full potential.


With ALA, students will have access to the latest research and technology in fields such as Artificial Intelligence, Energy, Robotics, Nanotechnology and Sustainable Innovation.  They will have the opportunity to work alongside leading scientists and researchers, engage in hands-on experiments and projects, and gain valuable skills that will prepare them for the future.


But we don’t stop there.  We also believe in giving back to the community and being a positive force for change.  Through our outreach programs, we will work with local schools and organizations to spread our message and encourage more students to pursue careers in science, engineering, and the Arts.


ALA is more than a foundation–it’s a movement.  Join us in our quest to inspire, educate, and empower the next generation of explorers, inventors, and change-makers.

Inner view of a futuristic vehicle

Our Mission

Our Mission:  A Transformative Journey:

Is to unleash the potential of underprivileged youth through free education, skills training, and mentorship, to better prepare them for the complexities of the future world they will shape.

Our Vision

Is to empower a new wave of explorers, developers, and leaders who will stimulate positive changes in their global community.

A sketch of a human-machine hybrid

Leonardo Apprentice

1.  Learners have been trained to use both brains as one to enhance creativity and imagination.

2.  Learners demonstrate how the Arts enhance  learning and memory retention.

3.  Learners focus on asking the right questions not  having the right answer.

4.  Learners challenge themselves to make their  own discoveries.

5.  Learners evaluate the right tool or technology that will provide the best results.

6.  Learners seek out patterns and make  connections.

7.  Learners engage in hands-on project-based  learning that sparks the human mind forward.

3d model of a human-machine hybrid

"Learning is the only thing the mind never exhausts, never fears and never regrets."

- Leonardo da Vinci.


Hello! My name is Peter Romero, and this is the story of how I created the world's first online long-distance educational program - and how that program has evolved to become the inspiring school of thought known as The Academy of Leonardo's Apprentice.


Like most inventors, I didn't set out with the goal of inventing. I was simply bothered by a common problem and seeking a solution. In the early 1990s, I worked as a math and computer programming teacher at a technical school for boys. The problem I faced was universal: students were uninspired by math and, subsequently, very bad at it. Many were flunking out of my class or turning to resources like after-school tutoring with little success.


Seeing them wrestle with their equations took me back to my own experiences as a struggling math student many years ago. I remembered how the realization that mathematics was more about patterns and connections and less about numbers and fractions had shifted my perception and opened new doors of understanding to me. What if it was possible to teach my students to think through their problems instead of calculating? I wondered.


I grabbed hold of this idea and pursued it. Starting with topics that interested me as a youngster - computers, robots, and the space race - I lifted dull equations off textbook pages and applied them to real-world problems. My class soon became an experimental space where we fired cannons, spoke to firefighters about the math of fire, and discussed the equations behind the movements of asteroids with real astronomers. I watched the light of inspiration come over my students as their grades started to climb, and I knew at that moment that I was on to something big.


How big? As big as the International Space Station - which is where my interests drew me next. The year was 1994, and I had just finished reading a gripping book about the International Space Station by Gene Meyers. Inspired by the idea that a functional space station could be constructed from the parts of a destroyed space shuttle, I approached AOL with the idea of setting up a virtual schoolhouse that would allow students from all over the world to participate in my thought experiment. At the time, I didn't realize that I was pioneering a path that no one had gone down before. I named my creation "Space Island".


By 1996, the Los Angeles Times, AOL, and a congressional group documented that my humble program had reached over 2.3 million students and teachers in forty nations. Before long, I received a phone call from the Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, who told me that the U.S. Congress was placing my program and me into the Library of Congress. This historical event marked the launch of the first online long-distance educational program in the world. In retrospect, all of today's online educational programs can be traced back to the Space Island program.


The Space Island program concluded in 2000 as I moved on to new teaching projects. Still, the challenge remained: students were making their way through the school system with subpar math and science skills. I witnessed as the U.S. government and private businesses invested over $5 billion into STEM programs every year while math, science, and reading scores continued to drop. The issue was clear: STEM subjects alone could not teach students the critical thinking skills they needed to solve complex problems or digest new material.


My dissatisfaction with the status quo inspired me to launch a series of summer programs called "Thinking Like Leonardo" in a bid to present hands-on projects that would engage students while teaching them the fundamentals of engineering, science, and art. I was inspired by Leonardo da Vinci's legacy as an engineer, scientist, poet, and artist and felt that it underlined my belief that the arts are an essential component of learning. In 2010, I changed the summer program name from "Thinking Like Leonardo" to "Leonardo's Apprentice."


In 2012, I left my teaching post to develop my online presence and focus on the program I was creating. In 2018, I filed for non-profit status and was awarded a 501(3)c under the name of "The Academy of Leonardo's Apprentice."


My vision is to grow my student-directed program to include a working lab where students can experiment and build models using computers, 3D printers, tools, and other supplies. I am also developing online workshops for teachers looking to build similar programs or looking for ideas that will engage and motivate their students. Everything I do is motivated by my belief that inspired and engaged students have the power to exceed their own expectations and solve problems in the real world. By nurturing the young minds of today, we are ensuring the future of humanity - one project at a time.

Our History

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