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: Hope to see you there!

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

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

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 is featured via Share her story with your networks to pass along her motivation and inspire others to dream big.

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 and visit for regular program updates. You can also follow our conference updates on Twitter @STEAMConnect via #STEAMconf14.

Takeaways from WISE 2013

My first time at the World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE) was eye opening. I was surrounded by more than 1,200 education leaders from 100 countries and with a wide range of perspectives on what’s working and what’s not. I captured dozens of snippets from the sessions I attended at @KimberleeSD, but here are a few standout highlights that really stuck with me:

  • STEM gives us “a sense of wonder, the same effect as music, art and literature do.” She likens STEM to seeing a flower and its beauty as others do, but also seeing its inner beauty. “There’s science behind the beauty.” – Maggie Aderin-Pocock, an English space scientist.
  • “We should be teaching an appreciation of science, not just trying to get more researchers.” – Claudia Dreifus, Columbia University and New York Times science writer
  • “There are currently 6,000 languages in the world. 3,000 will be gone by the end of the century. We need to be sensitive to cultural and linguistic diversity.” – UNESCO
  • “We need to teach the capacity to deal with the uncertainties of our daily lives. We don’t know where the future will take us.” – Edgar Morin, French philosopher and sociologist


We are clearly in a major transition period in education with a lot of work still to be done, but let’s take some time to step back and reflect on all of the positive steps individuals and organizations are taking forward all over the world. The WISE crowd alone is making leaps and bounds.

While soaking in the thought-provoking sessions, I also had the chance to immerse myself in more cultural activities in Doha like the famous Souq Waqif market, dune bashing and a camel ride, as well as camel races and a trip to Dukhan beach. I return to my life in San Diego with new perspectives, great new friends and an excitement for what the future holds connecting STEAMConnect with the world.

I’ll close with this: We experience life differently depending on where we sit in the world, but there is an underlying commonality between all of us. As Dr. Pai Obanya, Chairman of the Board of the West African Examinations Council said, “it’s our ‘humanware’ that is most important.” Well said.

When in Doha

Wow, what a week! This was my first time to the Middle East, and it gave me a whole new perspective on education at a global scale. Over a series of blog posts this week I’m going to capture the incredible journey I had “when in Doha."

Before diving into our two-day STEAM meeting, we had the chance to explore Doha with 20 school leaders from the U.S., Qatar and Brazil who held a similar meeting in parallel to ours. Our group of business and education leaders came together to enjoy an entertaining guided tour at the Museum of Islamic Art followed by a Dhow cruise along the Gulf with views of the sparkling skyline.

Day 1: From a former astronaut, the South African National Research Foundation and the Smithsonian, to Sesame Workshop, Boston Arts Academy, GameDesk and the Supreme Education Council among others, I was blown away by depth of experience in STEM, arts and education. We spent most of the day working through what STEAM means to us, concerns about its messaging alongside STEM and overall barriers for schools adopting STEAM. It was a challenging day trying to negotiate different perspectives in the room, but by the end of the day we had a sheets of poster paper and a wall of sticky notes filled with great ideas.

Ainissa Ramirez, materials scientist and author of Save Our Science – “All children have an inner scientist, we need to put memory back into the system.”

Day 2: With a fresh eye on STEAM after some much needed rest, the group powered through the morning fine-tuning their definitions of STEAM and hashing out questions around school support, funding and scalability, curriculum and assessment, and what students can learn from a STEAM program.

By lunch everyone was energized and excited to dig into mini STEAM project plans. We heard four different project pitches and the group dispersed based on interest. We now have actionable concepts including the STEAM card game, science music videos, a STEAM program for Qatari schools, and a creative, space-related mashup of two participants’ existing work.

“The future never just happened, it was created.” – Mae Jemison, former NASA astronaut

At the close of the two-day meeting, we went around the room sharing reflections on the experience. Everyone agreed it was incredibly productive, it opened up minds to the potential for STEAM, it gave the group actionable STEAM projects to move forward with, and that this is just the beginning of the great work we can do together across the world.

Reflections on the Plane to Doha and Excitement for What’s Ahead

As I sit on the plane on my way to Doha, Qatar, I’m getting excited about the adventure ahead. Since starting with UCSD Extension in early 2012, the momentum around STE+aM (science, technology, engineering, +arts, math) education has grown tremendously.

From San Diego, Orange County, Los Angeles and San Francisco to Portland, Oregon and Chicago, to Texas and Rhode Island, the push to integrate arts with STEM education is stronger than ever. The discussion is also happening all over the world, which is the impetus for my current travel overseas.

I was invited to co-facilitate a meeting on Oct. 27-28 in Doha hosted by the Qatar Foundation International (QFI) and New York Academy of Sciences (NYAS) called STEAM: Powering Creativity & Collaboration. Meghan Groome, executive director of education and public programs at NYAS, is my partner in facilitation. I’m looking forward to getting to know all about her work and how we may be able to partner to link NYAS to the STEAMConnect network of 700 teachers, nonprofits, community members and business leaders.

In addition to co-facilitating, I also have the opportunity to make a short presentation on what STEAMConnect is and what the network is up to, particularly in southern California. We’re a hotbed for STE+aM! I’ll provide access to the slides by Oct. 28. Others participating in the meeting include Charlotte Cole, SVP of global education for Sesame Workshop; Dr. Mae Jemison, a former NASA astronaut; Vijay Kumar, MIT; Roger Mandle, Qatar Museum Authority; Stephanie Norby, Smithsonian Center for Education, and several more. For a copy of the brochure with the agenda and full participant list and bios, contact Ann Marie Price at

This STE+aM event is an official pre-event for the World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE), which I’ll be participating in from Oct. 29-31. It’ll be an incredible opportunity to learn from and share with forward-thinking education leaders from 100 different countries around the world.

Keep an eye on for periodic blog posts, and @KimberleeSD for regular event updates and photos. I welcome your questions and suggested topics to address during the events as well, which you can share via social media or to me directly at More soon!

Bon Voyage Kim: T-Minus Six Weeks to Qatar!

Our very own Kim Richards is heading off to Doha, Qatar this October for a STEAM Roundtable to discuss the importance and impact of integrating the arts into STEM curricula.

Qatar Foundation International (QFI) in collaboration with The New York Academy of Sciences (NYAS) is bringing together 25 STEAM and school leaders from around the world to participate in a unique two-day roundtable from Oct. 27-28 to discuss and explore STEAM in practice and to help enhance understanding and adoption of STEAM by teachers and schools globally. Out of the 17 representatives from the U.S., only two are from California, one of which being Kim.

“I’m honored to join QFI in their mission to put STEAM into practice to change the face of education in Qatar and throughout the world,” said Kim. “The work that I’ve done building STEAMConnect with UCSD Extension has shown me just how transformative STEAM can be.”

Taking with her the knowledge and experience gained from working with STEAMConnect, Kim will have the thrilling opportunity to exchange ideas and knowledge with other STEAM experts from Qatar, U.S. and Brazil. Not only will she learn from other uniquely creative STEAM minds, but also be able to represent the great work being done in San Diego and southern California.

The STEAM roundtable will include presentations from the participants about how they define STEAM, how they are incorporating the “A” effectively in STEAM, examples of what is happening in STEAM and other concepts used to help push the STEAM movement forward.

“I’m eager to share what we’re doing in San Diego, to learn what others are doing around the world, and to find ways to collaborate and shift the movement to a global one,” said Kim.

Immediately following the STEAM roundtable, Kim will also attend the 2013 WISE Summit in Doha from Oct. 29-31 where more than 1,000 prominent education, corporate, political and social leaders from more than 100 countries will come together to explore innovation in education and to inspire collaborative solutions to education challenges.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for updates and live posts from Kim’s trip and stay tuned for a recap complete with photos and video from her travels as well as the STEAM roundtable and WISE Summit.