Announcing proud partnership with CuSTEMized

The Innovation Institute (Ti2) is proud to announce its partnership with CuSTEMized, an award-winning creator of personalized educational storybooks that encourage kids in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

Recognized by organizations as diverse as the Anita Borg Institute, Harvard Medical School, Scholastic Publications, BostInno, Scientista, Johns Hopkins University, and TEDx, CuSTEMized is a nonprofit that engages, encourages, and empowers young girls in STEM by providing them with tangible products and educational experiences that foster a positive scientific identity from a young age.

CuSTEMized was founded by Jean Fan, a Ph.D. candidate in Bioinformatics and Integrative Genomics at Harvard University, as a response to the dearth of women in STEM:

“I think STEM is really cool. That's why I'm pursuing my PhD in a STEM field. But when I started my PhD program, I realized I was the only girl in my class. So I volunteered to teach young girls science. At the end of the year, I wanted to provide my students with a personalized gift that would teach them about all the scientific careers I didn't have a chance to tell them about and remind them that I believed in them. I saw how these personalized messages resonated with my students, so with a little imagination and computer science skills, CuSTEMized was born. I really do believe that when we empower our girls with the confidence and STEM skills to create tools for their community, they will change the world.”

CuSTEMized uses proceeds from book sales, along with donations, to provide free books to underserved communities. It also leads fun-filled, hands-on learning STEM enrichment events in collaboration with local Boston libraries and organizations including Ti2.

Ti2 hosted an “If You Can See it, You Can Be it” CuSTEMized coloring event in 2016. (photos below) Jean also has been devoting time to developing and teaching computer programming at The Innovation Institute for the past two years. Her course is a hands-down favorite amongst students. Kamil, who works with her, is also a Bioinformatics and Integrative Genomics PhD candidate at Harvard. The creativity of CuSTEMized is ever present in these classes, inspiring students to learn to code for example in order to develop apps and websites that help increase the visibility of topics of societal importance to each student.

“It is always such a privilege when rising stars such as Jean take time from their already demanding schedules to teach young people. She serves as a role model for all of our students but particularly our female students who still have fewer relatable mentors and instructors in computer science than needed.”  Jennifer Montana, founder and executive director, The Innovation Institute

Ti2 Student Wins Science Festival Curiosity Award

'What causes (spontaneous) nose bleeds' wondered one of Ti2's fifth graders. She won a Cambridge Science Festival Curiosity Award for her question and poster. Winners were celebrated at an awards ceremony at MIT.  

Ti2 Joins Cambridge Hackspace at MIT Mini Maker Faire

The windtunnel that MIT postdoc Dr. Bruce David Jones built at the Cambridge Hackspace and donated to us was on display today along with many other cool maker outputs from the Cambridge Hackspace at MIT's Mini Maker Faire. It was a lively and fun event that embodied the creative spirit and reminded me of how MIT is such an amazing playground for scientists, engineer and makers. It also was just another demonstration of the many faceted efforts MIT makes to reach out beyond its institutional borders. There were many children, young and old, having fun sharing and learning.

Walk the Talk: Our Students Visit 3D Printing Labs @ Harvard

Excitement and sharing to inspire and be inspired was palpable during our trip to Harvard's Weiss Labs. Scientists volunteered time to discuss their work with our students, and they let students observe and sometimes interact with their research equipment and materials. Students engaged with researchers who are working on creating bloos vessels on 3D printers, amongst other things. It was an amazing visit! The major takeaway--with 3D printing, complexity is free.

None of these opportunities happen without the capabilities and generosity of real people--incredible people. Ryan Truby is one of these spectactular individuals. Ryan, a Harvard graduate student, organized and orchestrated the entire visit only to depart towards the end to attend to a lab outing and social that he had also taken the lead on.

Enjoy the gallery of photos.

A 3D Startup Visitor:

MIT grad, Nick Sondej, MS, dropped by yesterday to visit with students. He joined a discussion on 3D printing in manufacturing and in the production of space vehicles after he talked about his work as a mechanical engineer in a 3D printing start up. Despite a demanding schedule, Nick took time to inspire some young people about the possibilities that lie ahead of them. Thanks Nick! 

The Moment of Robotic Truth: It Works!

Ready to Test.

Ready to Test.

During the Engineering Immersion summer course last week, students (ages 8-10) collaborated to design and build a robotic arm that successfully executed a desired task. Students discovered engineering brainstorming, planning and designing; learned some basics in computer programming, electrical circuits and motors; and built their prototype. We did not use kits. The engineering instructor cut lucite parts that the students then assembled.

Enthusiasm and creativity led  the way. The team designed a robotic arm for multiple tasks and insisted that I distract parents for an extra 15 minutes while they raced to ready the arm for demonstration.

It was a terrific experience for everyone, affirming our belief that if we expect students to achieve, provide them with an accessible process for doing so and offer them nurturing, high-quality support, young people will exceed expectations!

The Many Relationships between Art, Science and Engineering

Art, science and engineering meet and mingle in the places that best express our humanity. The Innovation Institute is delighted to support and explore a deeper understanding of these relationships an places. It is our priviliege to welcome Ms. Liliana Marquez as Artist in Residence!

A Grandparents Observations about The Innovation Institute

When Edy Rees recently visited The Innovation Institute,  I was most interested to meet her, as she had identified herself as a grandmother and explained that her clear preference for communication was email. I am always interested to meet people who adopt disruptive technologies, which emerged later in their lives.  Edy observed two different classes, blending in with both students and teachers. Following her visit, I was touched to see her communicate the following about The Innovation Institute. 

 When I stopped in to check out the whole scene, I was tremendously impressed with the combination of inquisitive investigations with serious, studious pondering, with spontaneous joy, as when a group of 7/8 year olds gleefully decided to have their snack in the beautiful pyramid they had built this week.  I'm 71 and a retired family and child therapist, but before that I was a ghost-writer for famous physicists (not their papers for Phys. Rev., but science and public policy speeches for congressional committees, etc.)  As American Physical Society liaison to the Education Committee, I reviewed and recommended for support many alternative science education programs.  The Innovation Institute gets an A+.  The staff are connected to MIT, and bring their brilliance and contagious enthusiasm to their work with children, all of whom (as we know) are natural scientists before rigid public school systems bore them and turn them off.

Although it is sometimes awkard to do so, it seems important to share comments like Edy's. We are surely working very hard to continuously deliver the highest quality learning for our young people, but it is nice to get that "A+" acknowledgment.

Young Architects Visit Rome on Day Three

Wednesday 03 ROME

The Colosseum or Coliseum, also known as the Flavian Amphitheatre 

(Latin: Amphitheatrum Flavium; Italian:Anfiteatro Flavio or Colosseo) is an elliptical amphitheatre in the centre of the city of RomeItaly. Built of concrete and stone,[1] it was the largest amphitheatre of the Roman Empire, and is considered one of the greatest works of Roman architecture and engineering. It is the largest amphitheatre in the world.

Architects of the Future Send Pics of Their Travels Home from Giza

K-2 Itinerary

Monday 01 BOSTON

The John Hancock Tower 

Officially named Hancock Place and colloquially known as The Hancock, the John Hancock Tower is a 60-story, 790 ft (240 m) trapezoidal prism skyscraper in Boston. The tower was designed by Henry N. Cobb of the firm I. M. Pei & Partners and was completed in 1976.

Tuesday 02 GIZA

The Great Pyramid of Giza (also known as the Pyramid of Khufu or the Pyramid of Cheops

is the oldest and largest of the three pyramids in the Giza Necropolis bordering what is now El GizaEgypt. It is the oldest of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and the only one to remain largely intact.

Help Us Welcome our New Arrival, a Makerbot 2 3D Printer

We will do a whole lot more than make bunnies!

We will do a whole lot more than make bunnies!

After much research, due diligence, and discussion, we decided that it was time for The Innovation Institute to have a 3D printer in its innovation lab.

We will create 3D models of microorganisms. We will use it for engineering design challenges to make specialized parts, to design fun, original creations and much more. We will also learn about the use of 3D printers at leading-edge of research. 

We will create 3D models of microorganisms. We will use it for engineering design challenges to make specialized parts, to design fun, original creations and much more. We will also learn about the use of 3D printers at leading-edge of research. 

We have purchased a high-quality, user-friendly 3D printer that we are incorporating across our curricula. And, we are kicking off our new arrival with a summer course on 3D printing, which will be offered on Aug 11-15, 9:00 am - 3:00 pm, for grades 6-8+. As you know, if you have a child with the emotional maturity, cognitive ability and desire to learn, we welcome him/her in a course not designated for his/her age. We seek to ensure the best fit for joyful learning.

We will also explore the applications of 3D printing in today's research in our At the Biomedical Research Frontiers Seminar this fall offered for grades 8-12.