Friday, February 27, 2015

Inspired by VentureLab in San Antonio

Here is post I just added to  my  Where the Girls Are series of posts from my TechSavvy Girls blog.  

As some of you know part of what we look for as we plan our travels is to be inspired by creative people and places.  Today's tour of VentureLab  was one of the highlights of our travels through San Antonio as part of our Living Learning Mobile Journey.   When I discovered VentureLab, one of the things that caught my attention right away was the 60% female participation statistic on the front page of their web site.

we're making a real difference

 724 students, 60% female participation,

Who are these people that are having such great results getting young women involved in high tech ventures?  I immediately started clicking around their website and discovered that not only are 60% of their student participants female,   but over 60% of their team are women -- SMART women!

And one of these women is their founder, Cristal Glangchai, PhD in BioMedical Engineering.   

Cristal is a scientist, professor,  entrepreneur , and mother of two girls who is passionate about teaching girls to become leaders in technology, innovation and entrepreneurship.

Spend two minutes with Cristal in this short video and you'll see for yourself  how the lack of women in her university program, lack of women CEOs, lack of women investors, all fueled Cristal's desire to get  more women involved in the innovation landscape.  And one of the ways she is doing that is through VentureLab  ~ an innovation academy that focuses on hands on learning and teaching youth about entrepreneurship.

But  it's not just Cristal's passion for raising the number of females who play a role in shaping the world around us that is driving the success you see at VentureLab;  it is the passion of a whole team and their belief in a shared vision. 

Click on the WHO ARE WE Link and listen to children, parents, community members, and other stakeholders join Cristal (cofounder)  and Director of Programs, Nick Honegger. passionately describe the shared vision of VentureLab.    As Dirk Elemdorf cofounder of Rackspace,  describes "this whole industry has been dominated by dudes who look exactly like me~ young white dudes."   VentureLab is filled with a team of supporters who are passionate in making changes in an industry that currently "cuts off women and people of color".  They understands that

"diversity of view gives us diversity of solution by keeping people not otherwise exposed to this stuff in the game we get a better shot of having them actually take these roles that we need to fill our future"

The shared mission of the team of VentureLab came through loud and clear as Program Director Director of Programs, Nick Honegger, described what happens at Venture Lab during our tour of the space today.

Start YOUNG! 

VentureLab wants to start with kids as young as 5 years old!


Using our ESTEAM framework, we provide experiential learning in Entrepreneurship,Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics, teaching students the key mindsets of entrepreneurial thinking, design thinking, creativity, and we provide hands on instruction in technology.  [VentureLab Website]

Let's Utilize our FULL WORKFORCE! 
Getting more women to participate in the STEM fields and take on entrepreneurial roles is not just about achieving gender equality; our entire country will benefit from this progress and development. To realize our full competitive and technological leadership as a nation, young women must be encouraged to achieve their full potential and receive more representation within ESTEAM-related fields. We want to ensure that our full workforce is being utilized, and that is why we strive to achieve gender parity within all of our programs.  [VentureLab Website]

Thank you, Hetali Lodaya and Nick Honegger  for taking time out of your day to show us around VentureLab today and fill us with inspiration that the world is filled with creative people doing amazing things. 

Cross posted by Lucie at

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

A month in the Florida Sun

The trip to John Prince Park Campground in Lake Worth went smoothly, something I am always grateful for when driving our 30+ year old RV.  Our site was in the same part of the park as we were in last year.

I quickly settled into a routine of working for St Albans City School, walking the many paths around John Prince Park and re-familiarizing myself with the Lake Worth area.  I visited with Lucie's Aunt Helena and Uncle John who have a winter home in Lake Worth.  The weather was summer warm, in the 80s most days, unusual for Christmas which I celebrated by going to the movies and watching the newest Hobbit film.

On New Years Eve Lucie flew back from Vermont and we went to West Palm Beach's City Place to celebrate.  See her blog post for a description of the exciting things she did while in Vermont.

On New Years Day we went to Lucie's Uncle John's place for a traditional French Canadian New Years celebration.  Several of Lucie's Aunts were there along with some other relatives and friends of John and Helena.

Over the next few days Lucie and I settled in, walking through the park, enjoying the abundance of fresh Florida produce and exploring the old part of Lake Worth by the beach.

 We went to dinner in "Downtown" Lake Worth and explored some art galleries where we saw an interesting kinetic sculpture that used an arduino processor for control.

We visited a maker space, Hack Lab NOBO, in the next town over, Boynton Beach.  There we met some neat people who were enthusiastically supporting each other with many creative projects.

We returned to the Hack Lab for an open workshop night and were delighted to watch a father coaching his two young daughters as they made their own arduino controlled robot. 

At the Hack Lab we heard about a Makers gathering in Fort Lauderdale at the Museum of Science and Discovery that weekend.  We drove down, hung out with the Makers, getting a feel for what was going on in Southern Florida and toured the museum.  Later we had dinner at a sidewalk cafe, enjoying all the activity and energy there.

There were walks on the beach and walks in the park.

Finally, a few days before we were scheduled to leave Lucie's Father and Step Mother Christine moved down from Vermont to their winter place.  On our final day in Lake Worth we all went to the South Florida Fair.

Then it was time to leave.  We had a commitment to go to FETC, the Florida Educational Technology Conference where Lucie was presenting.  So we packed up the RV and left behind the 80 degree weather heading on to further adventures in Orlando.