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Saturday, January 31, 2015

January Brings Action with STEM News at Girls Stem Collaborative (GSGSC)

Click here to signup to receive future GSGSC newsletters!
Click here to read the latest GSGSC Newsletter now!

The Garden State Girls STEM Collaborative is the New Jersey initiative of the National Girls Collaborative Project, a program focused on providing high quality STEM activities to girls. Their primary goal is to strengthen the capacity of girl-serving STEM programs to effectively reach and serve underrepresented girls in STEM by sharing promising practice research and program models, outcomes, products and by connecting formal and informal educators, business and industry in order to maximize the resources that can positively influence our girls. Contact Mike MacEwan for more information how you can become involved.

In their latest issue, the Garden State Girls STEP Collaborative Project spotlights:
  • An Immediate Call to Action! The ELIMINATION of Dedicated 21st CCLC Funding has been Proposed
  • Register Now for 2/5 Click2Science Virtual Conference
  • Due 3/12 New Jersey Afterschool/Summer Program Notice of Grant Opportunity (NGO)
  • Got STEM? Let us Know How You're Supporting STEM or STEAM in Afterschool!
  • Creating a Makerspace By Doug Baldwin
  • Sign our petition to end the global gender technology gap today!
  • Boy, 13, builds Braille printer with Legos, starts company
  • Gathr Films is excited to present I Am A Girl
  • Check out NJ Makers Day: Community Engagement and more!

Friday, January 30, 2015

An Immediate Call to Action: The ELIMINATION of Dedicated 21st CCLC Funding has been Proposed

The draft ESEA reauthorization bill put forth by Senate HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-
TN) last week would eliminate the stand-alone, dedicated 21st Century Community Learning Center (21st CCLC) funding for afterschool, before-school and summer learning programs that currently reaches more than 1.6 million students through school-community partnerships.

We ask you, your staff, your school administrators, community partners, parents and older youth to call or email Senators Menendez and Booker immediately to tell them that 21st CCLC programs in NJ serve students and families with the greatest need, improve student’s academic success and help support working families. Please see below for further details and contact information:
As the Chair of the committee, Senator Alexander's bill is a significant first step in the process of reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) which includes the 21st CCLC Program. We need your voices to explain the value and importance of maintaining separate federal funding for programs that support young people when school is out. Please urge our New Jersey Senators to weigh in against this proposal with their HELP committee colleagues. A very strong show of support is necessary and crucial to maintaining 21st out-of-school time hours.
Senator Menendez:

One Gateway Center, Suite 1100
Newark, New Jersey 07102

973.645.0502 (fax)

208 White Horse Pike, Suite 18
Barrington, New Jersey 08007

856.546.1526 (fax)

Senator Booker:

One Gateway Center
23rd Floor
Newark, NJ 07102

Phone: (973) 639-8700
Fax: (973) 639-8723

One Port Center
2 Riverside Drive, Suite 505
Camden, NJ 08101

Phone: (856) 338-8922
Fax: (856) 338-8936

You can also have an email created through the AfterschoolAlliance website by clicking here.

*Senate staff record all phone calls and emails in support of or against pending legislation. All of our voices must be heard right now - even if you are not currently working in a 21st CCLC program.

21st CCLC Programs in New Jersey:

  • Serve over 12,000 children, youth, and their families in more than 200 sites throughout the state.
  • Serve students and families from communities in the greatest need.
  • Do not turn away students based on ability to pay.
  • Help build stronger communities and engaging community partnerships.
  • Improve student academic success and social-emotional wellness. 
  • Help working families. 

If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me –

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Gathr Films is excited to present I Am A Girl

There is a group of people in the world today who are more persecuted than anyone else, but they are not political or religious activists. They are girls. Girls are more likely to be subjected to violence, disease, poverty and disadvantage than any other group on the planet.

I AM A GIRL, a feature length documentary, explores the challenges, strength and resilience of six girls, in six different countries and reveals what it means to grow up female in the 21st century.

Click here to bring this powerful film to your local theater today!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Boy, 13, builds Braille printer with Legos, starts company

Written by Terence Chea

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — In Silicon Valley, it's never too early to become an entrepreneur. Just ask 13-year-old Shubham Banerjee.

The California eighth-grader has launched a company to develop low-cost machines to print Braille, the tactile writing system for the visually impaired. Tech giant Intel Corp. recently invested in his startup, Braigo Labs.

Shubham built a Braille printer with a Lego robotics kit as a school science fair project last year after he asked his parents a simple question: How do blind people read? "Google it," they told him.

Shubham then did some online research and was shocked to learn that Braille printers, also called embossers, cost at least $2,000 — too expensive for most blind readers, especially in developing countries.

"I just thought that price should not be there. I know that there is a simpler way to do this," said Shubham, who demonstrated how his printer works at the kitchen table where he spent many late nights building it with a Lego Mindstorms EV3 kit.

Shubham wants to develop a desktop Braille printer that costs around $350 and weighs just a few pounds, compared with current models that can weigh more than 20 pounds. The machine could be used to print Braille reading materials on paper, using raised dots instead of ink, from a personal computer or electronic device.

"My end goal would probably be having most of the blind people ... using my Braille printer," said Shubham, who lives in the Silicon Valley suburb of Santa Clara, just minutes away from Intel headquarters.

After the "Braigo" — a name that combines Braille and Lego — won numerous awards and enthusiastic support from the blind community, Banerjee started Braigo Labs last summer with an initial $35,000 investment from his dad.

Click here to read from this article's source.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Sign our petition to end the global gender technology gap today!

The National Girls Collaborative Project is collaborating with UN Women and will be joining this global campaign. Please distribute this to your networks as well. Watch our social media channels and distribute on your own as well.

Women and girls have the ability and ingenuity to ignite change – but will be limited in doing so unless they are equal players in science and technology. Right now, women around the globe are too often excluded from the global technology revolution. The result: more inequality, less innovation, and solutions that leave women out.

Join UN Women and the Global Fund for Women to demand equal access to and control of technology for women and girls worldwide. Sign our petition to end the global gender technology gap today by calling on governments, regional institutions, and the United Nations to make sure women and girls are at the center of the science and technology revolution.

The petition is part of IGNITE: Women Fueling Science and Technology, a global campaign and media project from Global Fund for Women, with UN Women as a major partner, explores the roles of science and technology in advancing gender equality. IGNITE features stories of women and girls who are leading and innovating in science, technology, engineering, and math, and highlights the gender gap in technology. Explore IGNITE to learn more about why technology is a women’s human rights issue, and to get inspired by creative women and girls globally to #BeTheSpark and take action.

Click here to sign!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Join us for Youth Garden Training Day on Sat 2/28

Click here to register

Get Your Youth and Community Garden Growing 2015
Saturday Feb 28, 2015

Trailside Nature and Science Center
452 New Providence Rd
Mountainside NJ 07092

9:00 AM — 3:30 PM

$25.00 (lunch provided)

The purpose of this conference is to assist you in starting a school or community garden.

These gardens can be used as outdoor classrooms to teach math, science, and nutrition.

This conference is taught by Rutgers Cooperative Extension faculty with support of the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders.

Registration deadline: Feb 20, 2015

Click here to download the brochure.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Bridging tech's gender gap with dance

Written by Vignesh Ramachandran, OZY

Sign your kids up for dance class, STAT. That is, if you want them to learn computer skills and survive the 21st century.

Researchers at Clemson University are helping young girls learn computational skills through dance, in a surprising new attempt to fix the gender gap in computer science. And it's quite a gap: 17 percent of Google's technical workforce is female; Facebook's even worse — only 15 percent of technical workers are women. The disparity starts early. Of the students who took the Advanced Placement computer science exam in 2013, only 23 percent were female, according to the College Board.

Clemson's method: Teach programming concepts by paralleling them with dance moves. Assistant professor of computing Shaundra Daily — a dancer herself — is working with colleagues in dance education and computer science; she says students get used to scientific concepts by actually moving and playing with their bodies. Kids in her studies work in a virtual environment where the programmer works via an avatar; the children learn to create dance moves by pulling blocks and snapping them together on the computer, in order to make an on-screen avatar move. Down the road, she says, it'll become an even heftier programming experience.

Choreography's not so different from computing, says Jennifer Chiu, an assistant professor of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Education at the University of Virginia. Both require rhythm and precision alongside abstraction. Plus, it's "potentially transformative" to get otherwise uninterested young people addicted to computer science.

Click here to read from this article's source.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Check out NJ Makers Day: Community Engagement and more!

NJ Makers Day enhances community engagement and develop connections among New Jersey residents by collaborating with multi-type libraries, museums, small businesses and others to promote and explore new opportunities for entrepreneurship, innovation and hands-on learning experiences.


  • Celebrate the culture of making in New Jersey
  • Foster collaboration between makers and makerspaces across New Jersey
  • Host a program/event on the same day at all participating New Jersey makerspaces
  • Promote the role of NJ libraries in supporting makers and maker culture throughout the state
  • Schedule at least one event in every county in New Jersey
  • Contract with vendors based in New Jersey whenever possible
  • Create projects with low or no barriers of access, including one or two statewide projects live streamed
  • Create a Google Map of makers and makerspaces in New Jersey

Visit them on the web at:

Monday, January 19, 2015

Creating a Makerspace

By Doug Baldwin, Emerging Technologies Librarian, Piscataway Public Library

The Piscataway Public Library is a two-branch library system located in central New Jersey, serving a population of approximately 55,000 residents. In 2012, staff from the library became familiar with the Maker Movement, a technology- and do-it-yourself-based culture that encourages hands-on building, constructing, tinkering, and experimenting.

This movement has been a key factor in the democratization of design and manufacturing that has been taking place all over the country. It has also highlighted the importance of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education in developing and innovating new products, as well as training a competent twenty-first-century workforce. It was through the lens of STEM education that staff at the library began to research and eventually initiate a makerspace to provide access to programs, equipment, and technology to support visitors of all ages in making, creating, and learning. Our space, branded as MIY (Make it Yourself), has been growing steadily since our makerspace grand opening in early 2013. This has included open hours for visitors to come and utilize the space and resources, monthly age-appropriate making programs, and a summer maker-camp for children in grades four through twelve.

While our library was fortunate enough to have the seed funding to create our space, our budget is certainly limited, as many other public and nonprofit programs. Because we strive to create programs where participants can take their creations home with them, we research and run many of our programs using low-cost or recycled materials to create things such as smartphone projectors, duct- tape speakers, glass jar lanterns, dry-ice ice cream, and much more. Likewise, we were fortunate to have our summer maker-camp funded this year by a grant from Cognizant called “Making the Future.” This is a great funding opportunity to support afterschool and summer STEM programs, and Cognizant has announced that it will be tripling its funding for this grant project. Information on the grant is available at

We have used a variety of resources to help generate low-cost STEM project ideas to do with our kids and teens afterschool and over the summer. Among the Web-based resources we have and continue to use are:

In regard to delivering our programs, we have found that usually a group of eight to ten (with one facilitator) or up to fifteen (with two facilitators) is optimal when making physical projects. Furthermore, incorporating the following steps into our approach has worked best in providing a stimulating, fun, and educational environment for this type of programming:
  • Providing guidance, but allowing open exploration of the materials and the physical and mechanical design of their projects
  • Asking questions, instead of providing answers
  • Supporting their ideas when they go "off-script"
  • Encouraging them to share their ideas with other participants when they develop a new way to get something to work, or a unique way to solve a problem
  • Be less of an expert, and more of a facilitator
We work by the mantra of “success through failure” and “there is never one right answer.” This is at the heart of the unstructured learning process that takes place in our programs as participants develop their abstract and critical thinking skills, planning and design skills, and self-confidence in the work they are performing. 

What we have also found is that expertise in STEM-related fields is not a requirement to facilitate these programs successfully. Certainly a willingness to be curious and learn new things is an asset; however, we have discovered that our ability to provide the right learning and creative environment has been the most important ingredient in running these programs successfully. If you are thinking of incorporating this type of activity into your program, our library is more than happy to assist in whatever way we can. Please feel to contact me via e-mail at:

Friday, January 16, 2015

Front and Center: Bringing Marginalized Girls into Focus in STEM and CTE Education

President Obama believes in the innate curiosity of every child, and our responsibility to ensure that every young woman and girl has the opportunity to achieve her dreams, regardless of what zip code she is born in.

This week, as part of the President’s commitment to equal opportunity for all students, the White House Domestic Policy Council and the Council on Women and Girls, the Department of Education, and the Georgetown University Law Center on Poverty and Inequality highlighted programs that focus on developing the talent of girls of color and low-income girls in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) and career technical education (CTE) careers. We heard from the educators, innovators, researchers, scientists, and marginalized girls themselves who are dedicated to increasing the participation of low-income girls and girls of color in post-secondary education and in-demand careers within high-growth industry sectors.

According to a recent National Science Foundation study, today, more women graduate from college and participate in graduate programs than men. As the White House Council on Women and Girls noted in our November 2014 report, Women and Girls of Color: Addressing Challenges and Expanding Opportunity, since 2009, both fourth- and eighth-grade math scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, the largest nationwide assessment, have improved for all girls of color, and since 2009 the high school dropout rate has fallen by 16 percent for black girls and 30 percent for Hispanic girls.

From 2009 to 2012, the graduation rate at four-year colleges and universities increased by 0.9 percentage points for black women, 3.1 percentage points for Hispanic women, 2.7 percentage points for American Indian/Alaska Native women, and 2.1 percentage points for Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) women. Despite this progress, barriers still exist for girls and women in STEM and CTE fields. In 2010, just 10.6 percent of bachelor’s degrees, 7.9 percent of master’s degrees, and 3.9 percent of doctorate degrees in science and engineering were awarded to women of color, and fewer than 1 in 10 employed engineers were women of color.

Many of these girls and young women continue to demonstrate an interest in STEM/CTE education, and we know that they bring new ideas, perspectives, and a passion for innovation and discovery. However, a dearth of resources effectively focused on marginalized girls, inaccurate stereotypes and implicit bias, and a lack of research informing evidence-based programs have combined to discourage many from pursuing and advancing in STEM and CTE careers. We simply cannot afford to allow these unfair and unnecessary barriers to prevent our nation from benefitting from the talents of the best and brightest Americans without regard to race, ethnicity, income, or gender.

We are proud to announce that the Administration is working with non-profit partners to expand access to STEM and CTE for marginalized girls, including low-income and girls of color:

  • Expanding Access to STEM and CTE Programs that Work: With funding support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Girls Collaborative Project, in coordination with non-profits like COMPUGIRLS and educators from around the country, will create a new STEM/CTE portal that will centralize resources on expanding marginalized girls’ access to STEM and CTE, including curriculum, research, and promising practices. The new project will also implement educator professional development at the local level.
  • Guidance to Ensure All Students Have Access to CTE and Non-Traditional Careers: The Department of Education is developing policy guidance designed to ensure that all students have equal access to CTE programs. The guidance to high schools, community colleges, and other CTE providers will underscore that gender bias has no place in American schools and that Title IX prohibits schools from relying on sex stereotypes in directing students towards certain fields. The guidance will also help state education agencies as they think about ways to improve women’s representation in non-traditional fields as part of their Perkins Act obligations.
  • Building Public-Private Partnerships and Strong Mentoring Programs: The Departments of Energy and Education will announce the expansion of a mentoring program that connects federal government employees who are STEM professionals with teachers and middle school students to share their passion, including some of the most marginalized students. This program will expand to additional cities around the country, with a focus on students living in public housing.

To learn more about what the Administration is doing now to expand opportunity for all with respect to STEM and CTE careers, please visit the Office of Science and Technology Policy and previous White House blogs on the topic.

Click here to read from this article's source.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Register Now for Click2Science Virtual Conference!

National 4-H Council and Click2SciencePD have teamed up to provide a one-day virtual conference on Thursday, February 5, 2015, that will help 4-H professionals develop skills in facilitating professional development for volunteers and teen leaders, afterschool programs and other community partners. Click2SciencePD has created resources that 4-H professionals can use in many program areas.

Register now for the two sessions being offered during the one-day virtual conference:
We look forward to working with you to make #MomentsThatClick in your out-of-school time environments!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Westfield H.S. Robotics teams win awards and advance to two state FIRST Tech Challenge Championships

Westfield High School’s Robotics teams, Team 5968 and Team 7102, advanced to state championships in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Coached by Westfield High School teachers Valentino Scipioni and Susan Marie Terra the Robotics teams competed in multiple qualification tournaments to earn spots in the state competitions. On Dec 6, the teams traveled to Ambler, Pa., where 33 teams from four states competed in the Eastern Pennsylvania Regional Qualifying Tournament. On, Dec. 14, the two teams competed against 34 other teams in RoboJoust at Livingston High School in Livingston, and on Jan. 3, Team 5968 competed against 24 teams at the Liberty Science Center Qualification Tournament.

Both teams were nominees for the Inspire Award, the highest award of achievement in FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC). The Inspire Award is given to the team that truly embodies the challenge of the FTC program. The team that receives this award is chosen by the judges as having best represented a ‘role-model’ FTC Team.

This team is a top contender for all other judging categories and is a strong competitor on the field. Working as a unit, this team will have demonstrated success in accomplishing the task of creating a working and competitive robot.

Team 5968 placed third for the Inspire Award in Pennsylvania and second for the Inspire Award at Liberty Science Center, while Team 7102 placed third for the Inspire Award at the RoboJoust. These awards qualify the teams to compete in the state competitions in February and March.

Scipioni, the teams’ head coach, was thrilled with the teams’ performances. “It is exhilarating watching young kids today actually use their hands to build something from scratch. The process of engineering is alive in today’s kids and working with these particular kids and watching the problem solving that goes into building something as intricate as these robots really gives you faith that knowledge and creativity are still alive” said Coach Scipioni.

The two Westfield teams were also acknowledged for other awards. At the Robojoust, Team 7102 was the winner of the Connect Award. The Connect Award applauds a team’s efforts in contacting specialists, professionals involved in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and their spread of robotics to the community. Team 7102 members reached out to several companies, both local establishments and chains, and received sponsorships and guidance from numerous professionals.

In addition to bringing home the Connect Award, Team 7102 was nominated for the Motivate award, which is given to a team that not only expresses passion for robotics but also celebrates their team, individuality and spirit through costumes and fun outfits, and a team cheer.

At the Eastern PA Qualifier, Team 5968 was nominated for the PTC Design Award, Rockwell Collins Innovate Award, and Connect Award; Team 7102 was also nominated for the Connect Award.

At the Liberty Science Center tournament, Team 5968 won the PTC Design Award. The PTC design award is “presented to teams that incorporate industrial design elements into their solution. These design elements could simplify the robot’s appearance by giving it a clean look, be decorative in nature, or otherwise express the creativity of the team. The winning design should not compromise the practical operation of the robots but complement its purpose."

In the match competition portions of the tournaments, both teams advanced to the playoff rounds. At the RoboJoust, Team 5968 and Team 7102 met in the semifinals In a riveting series of three matches, Team 5968, along with their alliance partners prevailed, winning the tie-breaking third match with a high score of the day and advanced to the finals where they lost in a close set of three matches.

7102 Team Captain Neil Makhija revealed that, “The biggest challenge we faced was the fact that the robot was outmatched by many other robots at the competition. The one thing that makes our team unique is how we are all prepared to give our all and work diligently to accomplish our goals, even when they see unreachable.”

At the Liberty Science Center tournament, Team 5968 was selected to be in the first alliance in the playoff round where they easily won their semifinal match and prevailed in an exciting 3-match final to win the tournament.

Both teams look forward to the coming months to further improve their robots as they prepare for the state competitions. Team 5968 Captain Spencer Fishman reflects on the season so far, "The two Westfield Robotics teams have been working long and hard for the past three months on our robots. It is fantastic to see the teams being recognized for our efforts and achievements. We are all so excited to compete at the Pennsylvania and New Jersey State Championships."

Westfield Robotics thanks the following organizations for their donations: Bonsall Chiropractic, Evonik Industries, Garwood Metal, Gep, Home Depot of Union, Lonza, and Nixle. Individuals and organizations wishing to learn more or to contribute to Westfield Robotics may contact the team at

FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization devoted to helping young people discover and develop a passion for science, engineering, technology, and math. Founded over 20 years ago by inventor Dean Kamen, the 2013-2014 FIRST season attracted more than 350,000 youth and more than 130,000 Mentors, Coaches, and Volunteers from 80+ countries.

Click here to read from this article's source.

Monday, January 12, 2015

New Jersey Institute of Technology: The future of STEM education

NEWARK — It is projected that New Jersey will need to fill 269,000 STEM-related jobs by 2018. That is why New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) is building tomorrow's university today by transforming its Central King Building into a state-of-the-art STEM teaching and learning hub.

NJIT is a specialized and highly focused research university and its focus is in the STEM disciplines science, technology, engineering and mathematics – as well as architecture and design. Moreover, this multi-disciplinary curriculum is founded on a computing-intensive approach to education providing its more than 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students with the needed technology proficiency, business acumen and leadership skills to be successful in their chosen careers.

Founded in 1881 as Newark Technical School, NJIT historically provided more than a quarter of New Jersey's engineers. Today, NJIT offers bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in 126 programs expanding to six colleges: Newark College of Engineering; College of Architecture and Design; College of Science and Liberal Arts; School of Management; College of Computing Sciences; and Albert Dorman Honors College.

With a student to faculty ratio of 18-to-1, NJIT combines the intimacy of a small campus with the resources of a major public research university. NJIT ranks nationally in the top 1 percent of all public colleges for return on investment. Moreover, it stands eighth overall among public universities for alumni earning potential. U.S. News & World Report's Best Colleges 2015 Edition names NJIT as a "top national university."

NJIT established its national prominence by developing relevant academic programs taught by leading practitioners in their fields. Through its Career Development Services, students are offered of industry internships and co-op programs that provide them an entry into the workforce. NJIT students graduate with the skills and knowledge that employers seek and expect.

NJIT offers corporate training, certificate programs and graduate degrees to working professionals and those who want to change careers through its Continuing Professional Education (CPE) division. Courses are delivered onsite for corporate partners, online or in the classroom. U.S. News & World Report ranks NJIT's online computing sciences graduate degrees 23rd nationally.

NJIT is committed to research that spans every academic unit and brings together faculty from across disciplines to address problems critical to New Jersey and the nation. University research expenditures have risen to more than $110 million in 2014, ranking NJIT fifth among all U.S. polytechnic institutions. In addition to learning from faculty, students have the opportunity to work with faculty on their research and in the laboratory.

NJIT is located in the University Heights district of downtown Newark, just 20 minutes by rail to Manhattan. NJIT continues to take a leadership role in the development of Newark as one of New Jersey's "priority growth investment areas."

Click here to read from this article's source.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Apple turns stores into galleries for iPad, iPhone artists

NEW YORK (AP) - Apple is turning its retail stores into art galleries featuring the work of professional photographers and other artists who use iPads, iPhones and Mac computers to create.

Travel photographer Austin Mann used an iPhone 6 to take otherworldly panoramic photos of an Icelandic glacier. Mann, who recalls mowing lawns for a summer as a 7th grader to save up for his first, bright green iMac in 1998, says his use of an iPhone and high-end cameras is "split pretty even" when it comes to professional work.

"In the photography industry especially, when you are getting started you are always seeking gear, 'If I could only get this $1,000 lens,'" he says. Using just an iPhone to take great photos encourages people to "shift away from focusing on gear and equipment."

Apple commissioned the work of 12 artists at various stages of their career to create works meant to inspire. Showcasing the people who use its technology - in this case, painters, photographers, filmmakers and other visual artists - is a shift for a company long focused on making its products front and center. The artwork, done on iOS devices and Macs using various apps, is displayed on Apple's website as part of an ad campaign called "Start something new." And the Cupertino, California-based company is replacing all product signage in its retail stores with the artwork. Some of the artists are gathering Thursday evening at 6 p.m. at Apple's SoHo store in New York to talk about their work.

Just as technology has transformed the way we work and interact with one another, it has also changed the way we create. For painter Roz Hall, that's meant shifting away from the canvases and acrylic paint he started out using in art school to an iPhone app called Brushes. After not painting for many years, Hall in 2010 read about a group of artists who started using their iPhones and sometimes iPads, which had just come out.

"I had an iPhone at home and I downloaded the Brushes app," he says. "That was a wonderful, simple application."

It was also challenging. When he painted on a canvas, he painted life-size works. Painting on a 3.5 inch-screen was an entirely different thing.

"What I liked about it was that there was no setup," Hall says. With all the prep work that comes with traditional painting, he says, "by the time you have everything out the moment has (often) passed."

Hall, whose website lists exhibitions in cities from San Francisco to New York to Shanghai, says he has not painted traditionally for many years. And he prefers painting on the iPad to using a traditional computer. Using the app Procreate to paint with his fingers on the iPad, "you don't feel like you are fighting a computer to create your art. You feel connected to the artwork," he says. "When I first used an iPad, it made me think of cave paintings, or when a child first paints using their finger."

While some artists may look at digital painting as "cheating" - after all, you can delete mistaken brush strokes - Hall, who lives in Britain, thinks it actually makes artists more daring.

"If you spent 50 pounds ($75) on canvas and another 50 pounds on paint, at some point you are going to get careful. You don't want to waste what you spent," he says.

For Apple's display, Hall used Procreate to paint portraits of people he encountered at the university where he lectures. They include a bearded, mustached young man with bright yellow glasses and an intense stare, and a woman in a floppy black hat lost in thought.

Alistair Taylor-Young, whose photography career spans two decades and has shot for fashion icons such as Armani and Fendi and magazines ranging from Conde Nast Traveler to French Vogue, took photos of rainy cityscapes with the iPhone 6 for Apple's project. "Crystal Mosaic" uses the phone's own camera app to bring drops of rain on glass into focus, showing ordinary scenes through a different perspective.

Taylor-Young bought an iPhone in 2007, when they first came out. Having worked with Polaroid cameras early in his career, he found the quality of the original iPhone's camera very similar.

"It was quite soft and the colors were muted and distorted," he says. "The moment I picked up the phone and started taking pictures, it reminded me of photography in its infancy. You couldn't focus, change exposure. You just saw something and took a photo."

The quality of phone cameras has certainly improved in the last several years. But more importantly, the ease of use and always-in-hand nature of a smartphone camera has in many ways democratized photography, encouraging anyone to make a photo diary of daily moments, not just special events or trips.

"Digital hasn't made any nicer pictures," Taylor-Young says. "But they have opened up the world to people who would have not necessarily thought of taking pictures, or sharing them."

Click here to read from this article's source.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Bitsbox Sets Kids up for Success

Every parent wants their kids to succeed. This means your children need to know how to code. The challenge is that becoming a great coder takes time, interest and commitment. In an era of instant gratification how do you switch children onto coding? A potential answer can be found in a new subscription service called Bitsbox.

Bitsbox is about writing real code to make real apps that kids then play right away on real devices. And it does this month after month through the arrival of surprise packages. In my interview with the co-founder Aidan Chopra, he emphasized that learning early in life is the key. Aidan shared, “Coding is a language. And like any foreign language, it is always better to learn it early on versus later in life.” Starting at $30/month, parents, grandparents and friends of parents can pitch in on setting up the next generation for success by subscribing to Bitsbox.

The current website is live and a series of apps can be explored. The next generation of Bitsbox is on its way and is being crowd funded on Kickstarter. At $68,000, they have surpassed their original target of $45,000. These early adopting parents understand that coding matters.

Bitsbox is more than a story about getting kids to code. It is about two dads who left high paid senior jobs at Google to pursue their passion and purpose. Aidan Chopra and Scott Lininger met while working on Sketch Up. At the height of their careers, they decided to take the entrepreneurial plunge and build a venture to help empower children. Most stories today showcase 30 something single millenials as the super star entrepreneurs. Being an entrepreneur at any age takes grit. Jumping in at this life stage with a spouse and kids onboard takes an equal measure of guts. Bitsbox reminds me of my coverage of the early days of Goldieblox, the young toy company that inspires girls to embrace science and engineering. It is both a great product and a great team. Definitely one to watch going into 2015.

Click here to read from this article's source.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Participate in the Selma Speech & Essay Contest - submission deadline 1/30/15

Click here for details!

We want to get as many high school students involved as possible. Can you help us spread the word to your students and colleagues?

  • To participate, go to:
  • Grand prize: $5,000!
  • Timeline: December 25, 2014 - January 30, 2015.

The National Liberty Museum is delighted to announce we have partnered with Paramount Pictures to host the Selma Speech & Essay Contest in conjunction with the film Selma. Check out this powerful new film when it opens nationwide tomorrow to begin your contest submission.

Contest Topic: "The movie Selma tells the story of how Martin Luther King, Jr. and others peacefully protested to advance voting rights. What do you think needs to be done today to protect individual freedom and self-determination? What are you doing or will you do to peacefully advance those rights?"

Who can participate in the contest?

The Selma Speech & Essay Contest is open to US High School students ages 14-18 (as of the January 30 deadline), who are enrolled in a public, private, or parochial high school or home study program in the United States and its territories. After viewing the Paramount Pictures film Selma, contestants will respond to the Contest topic with an original 500-700 word essay and videotaped speech reading of their essay.

For rules, visit:

It all started with a speech:

At the age of 15, a young Martin Luther King, Jr. entered a high school public speaking competition with his submission called, "The Negro and the Constitution." He was in his junior year, and he won the competition. On the bus ride home, young King and his three companions were told to give up their seats to a white couple who had just boarded the bus, and they stood for several hours on their way back to Atlanta.

It has been widely written that the high school speech Dr. King wrote inspired his "I Have a Dream" oration, since all of the concepts in his competition submission were encapsulated into the historic 1963 speech. There are striking parallels between the two writings. That is the power of words.

Now it's time to use your words. Find out more at

The Selma Speech & Essay Contest is made possible through a grant from the John Templeton Foundation and in-kind support of Paramount Pictures.


Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Piscataway students tackle STEM challenge

Written by Christina Giannantonio

PISCATAWAY — Two teams of students from Piscataway High School earned honors at the eighth annual Hydrogen Fuel Cell Model Car Challenge held Dec. 17 at New Providence High School.

Forty-three teams of students from 14 New Jersey high schools competed at this year's challenge, a STEM program offered by TransOptions, a transportation oriented non-profit organization and The Linde Group, a worldwide gas and engineering company, which is designed to teach high school students about alternative fuels.

To participate in the challenge, teams must design and build a hydrogen-powered model car to enter in a race. Students also are required to produce, store and transfer the hydrogen needed to power their cars and submit a written portfolio documenting their car concepts, designs and comments.

At the end of the race, awards are given to teams for their cars’ speed, craftsmanship, engineering and progress journal.

Henry Rodriguez, David Skup and Sean Daly, members of Piscataway High School team "Aqua Kart," finished second in the Progress Journal category while their classmates, team "R.C.", Justin Wanzie, Austin Theofanides, Kim Sarza and Jacob Vitalicio, finished third in both the Speed and Progress Journal categories.

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Monday, January 5, 2015

Mindy Kaling’s Advice to Teens: Please Don’t Peak in High School

Written by Mindy Kaling

Sometimes teenage girls ask me for advice about what they should be doing if they want a career like mine one day. There are basically three ways to get where I am: (1) learn a provocative dance and put it on YouTube; (2) persuade your parents to move to Orlando and homeschool you until you get cast on a kids’ show; or (3) do what I did, which is stay in school and be a respectful and hardworking wallflower and go to an accredited non-online university.

Teenage girls, please don’t worry about being super popular in high school or being the best actress or the best athlete. Not only do people not care about any of that the second you graduate, but when you get older, if you reference your successes in high school too much, it makes you look kind of pitiful, like some babbling Tennessee Williams character with nothing going on in her current life. What I’ve noticed is that almost no one who was a big star in high school is a big star later in life. For us overlooked kids, it’s so wonderfully fair.

I was never the lead in the play. I don’t think I went to a single party with alcohol at it. My parents didn’t let me do social things on weeknights, because they were for homework—and maybe an episode of The X-Files if I was being good (The X-Files was on Friday night), and on extremely rare occasions, I could watch Seinfeld (Thursday, a school night), if I had aced my PSATs or something.

It is easy to freak out as a sensitive teenager. I always felt I was missing out because of how the high school experience was dramatized in TV and song. For every realistic My So-Called Life, there were ten Party of Fives or 90210s, where a twentysomething Luke Perry was supposed to be just a typical guy at your high school. If Luke Perry had gone to my high school, everybody would have thought, What’s the deal with this brooding greaser? Is he a narc? But that’s who Hollywood put forth as “just a dude at your high school.”

In the genre of “making you feel like you’re not having an awesome American high school experience,” the worst offender is a song: John Cougar Mellencamp’s “Jack & Diane.” It’s one of those songs that everyone knows all the words to without ever having chosen to learn them. I’ve seen people get incredibly pumped when this song comes on; apparently it is an anthem of some people’s youth. Across America, there are high school couples who strive to be like Jack and Diane from that song. Just hangin’ out after school, makin’ out at the Tastee Freez, sneakin’ beers, without a care in the world. Just two popular, idle, all-American kids, having a blast.

As it is, I find “Jack & Diane” a little disgusting. A child ofimmigrant professionals, I can’t help but notice the frivolity of it. Why are they not home doing homework? Why aren’t they setting the table for dinner? Who allows kids to hang out in parking lots? Isn’t that loitering?

I wish there were a song called “Nguyen & Ari” about a hardworking Vietnamese girl who helps her parents with the franchised Holiday Inn they run and does homework in the lobby, and Ari, a hardworking Jewish boy who does volunteer work at his grandma’s old-age home. They meet at Princeton Review. They study together for the SATs and AP courses, and then, after months of studying and mountains of flashcards, they kiss chastely upon hearing that they both got into their top college choices. This is a song teens need to inadvertently memorize.

In high school, I had fun in my academic clubs; watching movies with my friends; learning Latin; having unrequited crushes on guys who didn’t know me; and yes, hanging out with my family. I liked hanging out with my family! Later, when you’re grown up, you realize you never get to hang out with your family. You pretty much have only 18 years to spend with them full-time, and that’s it. So, yeah, it all added up to a happy, memorable time. Even though I was never a star.

The chorus of “Jack & Diane” is: “Oh yeah, life goes on, long after the thrill of livin’ is gone.”

Are you kidding me? The thrill of living was high school? Come on, Mr. Cougar Mellencamp. Get a life.

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