Real World STEAM: SoCal Industry and Educators Unite at SXSWedu 2015

KDR PR & STEAMConnect are going to be at SXSWedu this year in Austin, Texas!

On March 11 from 2:00-4:00 PM, we are teaming up with David Delgado, Designer from NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and Saura Naderi, Career Development Specialist from Qualcomm, to facilitate a STEAM Session highlighting projects and programs that have progressed the STEAM movement in Southern California. #SoCalSTEAM

Here is the official session description from the SXSWedu website:

Southern California is taking STEAM education to a new level – the real world. This session will move beyond dialogue and provide new and inspiring hands-on experiences from a few of the brightest minds in SoCal. Each speaker represents how industry can creatively unite with educators and community, and will have 25 minutes to showcase his or her implementation of STEAM, providing interactive demonstrations, sharing how impact is measured and how to replicate in other regions.

The objectives of the session are to:

  1. Cement the role of industry in STEAM education and sphere of impact in a region.
  2. Relay replicable examples of high quality STEAM programs that link to student experiences in the real world.
  3. Inspire new program ideas and industry partnership opportunities.

Our very own Kim Richards will be setting up the session and providing context for #SoCalSteam, speaking on the elements that tie David and Saura’s work together. It’s about making the unseen tangible by tapping into imagination, curiosity and creativity, breaking down walls and allowing kids to be open, vulnerable and take risks. At the end of the session, Kim will moderate a Q&A session that will get the audience involved in the conversation.

We are honored to be a part of such an amazing gathering of influential and inspiring professionals and policy makers in the education field!

For more information visit: http://sxswedu.com/. Hope to see you there!

New Client Love: TCPS

We love our clients and we think you will too! The Child’s Primary School (TCPS) is celebrating more than 30 years in the San Diego community, and they have some great stories to tell. We’re working with them to refresh their external messaging, website (design thanks to MCM) and preparing for media and partnership outreach in the fall. Check out their new website we just launched this week!

We also asked Jim Price, executive director at TCPS, a few questions to get to know them better:

  • What was a standout moment for you in the 2013/2014 school year?

Winning First Place in the Middle School Robotics Division at the San Diego Mini-Maker Faire andparticipating as an exhibitor and conference speaker at the STEAMConnect Conference.

  • What initiatives are TCPS teachers and students excited about for this coming school year?

Our Classroom Without Walls Initiative, our growing involvement with STEAMConnect and the Small Schools Coalition.

  •  What do you look forward to most about working with KDR PR?

Giving more people in San Diego the opportunity to learn more about our school, our innovative teachers, and our awesome kids.

Divergent Thinking: UCLA SciArt Nanolab

Never before have I experienced anything like the SciArt Nanolab at UCLA. Going into this institute, I had no idea what to expect. All through my life, I have been asked “do you like the arts or sciences?” Most people were surprised when I told them that I had a passion for both.

At the SciArt Nanolab, I was surrounded by students and instructors who feel the same way that I do. Rather than conforming to the notion that these two subjects can never be intertwined, we explored various ways to incorporate both of these areas into our work.

As I searched for summer programs, many of the institutes available focus on very narrow subjects or practices. Because this course is so open, it attracted a very eclectic group of students. There were many future-engineers and biologists like myself, as well as some very talented artists! We were exposed to many different fields of work, and this helped me to realize some of my strengths and interests. I now know that engineering is not my forte, but I’ve discovered a new passion for environmental biology and computer science. As a creative person, I was very skeptical about computer science, but I had a great time experimenting with designs and programs.

Many guest speakers gave lectures on their work throughout the two weeks, such as Noa Kaplan, who is an artist who sculpts objects that she views through microscopes. We also completed daily hands-on workshops, like building our own microscopes from webcams and designing our own circuit for clothing. Our instructors led us on visits to five different labs and museums, and we also had plenty of time to get to know each other as well.

Besides the educational aspect, the incredible support from the faculty truly made this experience unforgettable. With their help, us students completed a final project under the guidelines of “imagine the impossible.” My peers all came up with unimaginable ideas, including memory retrieval, compatibility monitors, and ozone-cleaners. My group and I developed a plan for “self-cleaning teeth,” and our final project website and video can be viewed at melfarfel17.wix.com/plaquex.

I highly recommend this program to any student who has interdisciplinary interests, or one who simply wants to explore various subjects! As I head into my senior year and begin applying to colleges, I will continue to explore the new perspectives and interests that I have developed through this program, as well as through my internship with KDR PR.

-By Melanie Farfel, KDR PR summer 2014 intern & senior at Canyon Crest Academy where she is also president of ASB and a member of the Envision Conservatory for the Humanities

My journey through Art of Science Learning

On July 24, I was surrounded by sunshine, music, and the enthusiastic voices of hundreds of innovators in art and science filling the Plaza de Panama and the San Diego Museum of Art in Balboa. There, educators, parents, children and passersby gathered to share ideas and learn from each other at the Play Day for Educators hosted by the Art of Science Learning (AoSL).

Incubator for Innovation:

At the heart of Play Day, teams from AoSL’s San Diego Incubator for Innovation presented their projects in progress and received feedback and support from the community. All nine teams will present their final projects on October 18th. Stay tuned for details!

Here are a few conversations that stood out to me:

  • Waterstock: Many attendees considered the question “What would you do with the last water balloon?” giving answers like, “Drink it!” “Definitely feed it to my gold fish,” “I’d find a way to make more with it,” and “Use it to water a fruit tree.”
  • Aqua Diao: After describing a prototype that converts the humidity in the air into drinking water using electrical currents, a 12-year-old enthralled by the prototype and the battery it works from asked, “Does that help steady the voltage?” and “How does that sensor work?” and other technical questions.
  • Trash to Paradise: After walking through the plans and a mini prototype for filtration system made from recycled plastics and wetland plants to locally convert black water into gray water at a Tijuana church site a young woman echoed, “So you’re filtering water with plastics and soil instead of heavy machinery? That’s fantastic!”

Mini-Workshops:

In addition to the San Diego Incubator Teams, schools and organizations from around the county provided mini workshops to showcase the benefits of applying art to STEM education for even the earliest learners. Here’s what I heard:

  • Feaster STEAM Charter: as Kim Richards, co-founder of STEAMConnect, struggled to make a pyramid from 4 pieces of connected circles, the Feaster engineering teacher pointed out, “I saw a kid earlier today solve the puzzle in one move from where you have it right now.” With a look of surprise and one twist, Kim solved the puzzle exclaiming, “I didn’t even see it at first!” Another Feaster team member chimed in, “Kids have an easier time with this the younger they are. As we get older we get so set in our ways, it’s hard to let go and imagine possibilities.”
  • BuildTopia: Children used basic engineering design handbooks and recycled materials to model their own utopia. One little boy grabbed my hand and said excitedly, “I made it look like leaves fell out of the tree!” as he showed me his eco-friendly utopia complete with elevator tree house and duck pond.
  • Rokenbok: Attracting by far the most and smallest kids, the Kid*Spark by Rokenbok play area held cars and lego-like bridges and buildings. A father watching his children guide Rokenbok cars over bridges mumbled to his wife, “This is fascinating. They’re all so calm.” As a little boy was being pulled away from a dump truck, he asked his mother disappointedly, “We need to go?”

    Meanwhile young-at-heart adults marveled over 3D printed pieces that interfaced perfectly with Rokenbok’s.

  • CRMSE: While creating a 3D drawing, anamorphic projection, a 4th and 5th grade math teacher shook his head saying, “There’s not enough art in math, my students would probably love something like this.” Pausing a moment, he asked the representative from the USD Theoretical Math extension, “Do you think fourth or fifth graders could handle this?” who replied “I do this with preschoolers and adults. They’ll do great!”

-By Romy Beigel, KDR PR summer 2014 intern & president of Team Paradox, the FIRST Robotics team at San Dieguito Academy

The World Is Flat – 5 Tips for Working Abroad

I’ve been fortunate over the past 18 months to travel to Europe on three different occasions. I remember being nervous about keeping my business moving before the first trip, but those worries quickly washed away. The world is indeed flat, and we have so many opportunities for connectivity at our fingertips now, it really doesn’t matter where we are in the world (unless there’s no wifi!).

Here are some tips I’ve found useful while working abroad:

  1. Notifying clients and project partners of travel – I alert clients and partners two weeks in advance of the dates I’ll be gone, what the time difference will be, that I’ll working while abroad and that I’ll be reachable via email and Skype. For everyone else in my network, I simply change my voicemail message directing people to send me an email (phone calls and regular text messaging rates are very expensive). I don’t put an out of office email message on unless I’ll be completely out of range and unreachable.
  2. Download Whatsapp, Skype and Viber on your smartphone – Whatsapp allows you to send texts, videos and your location free; Skype is perfect for video meetings or when needing to dial an international number directly and Viber is my favorite for making free phone calls.
  3. Identify a go-to wifi location – The first thing I do when landing in another country is turn my cellular data off. It’s way too expensive! As long as you have a go-to wifi spot to check messages and work on projects, you’ll be good to go.
  4. Schedule regular team Skype meetings – These are important while the team is all on the same continent, and even more so when they’re not. Often times I’ll schedule a team touch base call just before a client meeting in order to streamline calls.
  5. Meetings with clients – The beauty of being in a different time zone is that workflow is on a 24-hour cycle. You’re working while they’re sleeping and vice versa. Schedule any meetings while abroad as soon as you can because the window is small (I typically schedule between 8-10am PT). If it’s a conference call with multiple people, I’ll provide my conference line and call in via Skype. If it’s a meeting with one or more people from one company, I prefer video Skype.

Next time an opportunity presents itself to travel abroad, I say “Carpe Diem” or “Aprovechar el Día.” Life is too short to wait for the “right time;” the time is now! Enjoy your travels and please share your additional travel tips with us here.

Kim’s Success Story: Connecting Science and the Arts Through PR

Read more about Kim’s story on The Story Exchange and how she’s using public relations to connect science and the arts.

The Story Exchange’s 1,000 stories campaign highlights women entrepreneurs from around the world, asking them to share their stories of why they started their businesses and what they hope to achieve.

Kim’s story on starting KDR PR and co-founding STEAMConnect.org is featured via http://thestoryexchange.org/kim-richards/. Share her story with your networks to pass along her motivation and inspire others to dream big.

A Talk With SDSU PR Students about Finding Passion

Last week, Kim spoke at SDSU’s Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) chapter meeting to share her story about starting KDR PR and to encourage students to let their passions drive career decisions.

All students had the chance to share their passions with the group, and then Kim shared her passion for arts and education, and how it led her to where she is today running KDR PR and growing STEAMConnect.org.

Most often, PR majors come out of college pursuing careers in hospitality, lifestyle and high tech, and several agencies in San Diego focus in these areas. Kim reminded the students that any company that has a public face needs a communications plan at some level, so even the most niche markets can present great opportunity. Education isn’t an area that many PR firms focus on, and even fewer (none that we’re aware of) focus on the intersection of arts and STEM in education.

As a PRSSA SDSU alumna, I was ecstatic to return to campus and participate in this discussion because I was fortunate enough to blend my passion for the arts with my career directly out of college.

Kim’s advice about following our passions had many students thinking differently about their paths. One student expressed her deep passion for dance, but hesitation to pursue it because she was told that “it wouldn’t pay the bills.” Kim’s story is definitely an example of how this is not true.

Client Snapshot: CRMSE

We partnered with the Center for Research in Mathematics and Science Education (CRMSE) at San Diego State University in May 2013 to increase their visibility in San Diego. We set out to showcase their more than 25 years of robust research, curriculum development, and service to the math and science education community.

After our nine month collaboration, we look back on our work with the team and outcomes achieved.

Launching the first STEAM Conference in San Diego March 28

We announced yesterday that STEAMConnect, an organization co-founded by KDR PR and UCSD Extension, will be holding its first-ever STEAM Conference on Friday, March 28 at the Irwin M. Jacobs Qualcomm Hall in San Diego. We are looking forward to partnering with our STEAM Site Sponsor Qualcomm on this exciting event!

This conference will bring together dynamic speakers, engaging entertainment, exemplary STEAM programs and inspiring STEAM students to discuss hot topics around STEAM, forge new partnerships and pinpoint key action items to help turn STEAM ideas into reality.

Purchase your tickets now at steamconf14.eventbrite.com and visit http://steamconnect.org/events/steam-conference-2014/ for regular program updates. You can also follow our conference updates on Twitter @STEAMConnect via #STEAMconf14.