As part of the Sphero RVR Kickstarter campaign, Amy and I have decided to give away up to 200 RVRs as part of a new tier called the 2 RVRs for you + 1 for a Teacher tier.
If you buy this tier, you get two RVRs. Then, you get to designate a teacher – any teacher – who you’d like to give a third RVR to. Our foundation (the Anchor Point Foundation) will be underwriting this.
As a special bonus, I’ll do an hour long AMA on Kickstarter Live for everyone who participates in this tier. Like many of the AMAs I do, I’m hopeful the conversation will be wide ranging, covering whatever anyone on the AMA wants to explore.
So, if you have a teacher in your world who you love and want to give a special gift, go sign up for the Sphero 2 RVRs for you + 1 for a Teacher tier on Kickstarter.
Among other things, I’m especially proud of Ayah Bdeir’s leadership on this issue over the years. There are two great interview segments with her that discuss (1) To increase girls in tech, focus on ages 8-12 and (2) The importance of teaching girls to fail.
Over the last eight years, Sphero has made a bunch of different robots. We’ve been discussing the “every-programmer” robot for a while, which is both hardware and software hackable. Watching RVR come together from the inside over the past year has been pretty awesome.
If you are into robots, programming, STEM, or the future, go visit Kickstarter and pre-order RVR today.
Last month, Amy and I matched all of the Colorado first time DonorsChoose.org projects. So far, 103 projects have been fully funded, with a total of $25,722 donated. We still have plenty of matching dollars out there, so we’ll continue to run this match for a while.
In the meantime, I started talking to my friends at Sphero about doing something similar for all the DonorsChoose.org projects that have a Sphero as part of them. They got excited about it and have announced a $110,000 gift to Donorschoose.org to match anyone who donates to any of the 200+ teachers on Donorschoose.org who have Sphero products included in their projects.
Amy and I, through our Anchor Point Foundation, joined Silicon Valley Bank, Needham & Company, Flex Logistics, Nasco, and my partners at Foundry Group, in providing the funding for the match. SVB, Needham, Flex, and Nasco are Sphero business partners and I deeply appreciate their support of Sphero, DonorsChoose.org, and all of the teachers we are helping fund.
If you want to support a teacher who has a Sphero-related project for their classroom, jump in now. And, if you are a teacher who wants to do something around Sphero’s STEM-related robots and software, including Sphero BOLT, Sphero Mini, and the newly-released Sphero Specdrums, join DonorsChoose.org and put up a project today! Finally, if you are a Sphero business partner and want to participate in this, email me and I’ll get you in the mix.
This match will continue until the dollars are used up. Amy and I are incredibly proud of our friends at Sphero, along with their partners SVB, Needham, Flex, and Nasco, as well as my own partners at Foundry Group, for helping teachers get more STEM-related activities in their classroom through DonorsChoose.org.
Watch the following one minute video and ponder whether or not you were that kid (or have one of those kids.)
I was totally that kid. But, most of it was in my mind, which I why I ended up being a software version of that kid. About the only machine I played with was my Apple ][ because it was a computer. I hated the lawnmower, never worked on cars, was afraid of the Cuisinart we had (and all the sharp blades), ignored power tools, and stayed away from anything that plugged into an electrical socket on the wall.
Ironically, I have excellent hand-eye coordination which I think came from three things: (1) playing video games, (2) playing tennis, and (3) having crummy eyesight.
I still have crummy eyesight. Even though my glasses correct most of it, I know that my brain works extra hard to compensate for it. So, as a kid, even though I played a lot of sports, I often played them without my glasses on which made some things worse but forced me to work even harder to deal with hand-eye coordination.
I didn’t realize until I was an adult that I have a very difficult time with any sort of near vision stuff (I’m very nearsighted and have terrible astigmatism.) When I reflect on this, I realize that I avoided doing anything that required near-focus mechanical dexterity. So, I spent a huge amount of time in my head. You would often observe me sitting around programming the computer, or reading, or going for long runs and pondering things by myself.
I wish I’d had littleBits then. While I did fiddle around with the hardware on my Apple ][, I avoided anything else that included tools, wires, nails, bolts, and screws. That was a huge miss on my part, as I’ve found that I love to play around with physical hardware products and electronics as an adult. And, I love to invest in companies that make hardware that makes physical stuff, especially for kids.
So – if you are that kid, or have that kid, jump into things with littleBits. Post something on social media as part of their #MakingChangemakers campaign. Write a blog post about why being that kid helped you achieve what you are today. Share the video above. For every 100 RTs, shares or Likes your post receives, littleBits will donate a Code Kit to an at-risk classroom of your choice to celebrate that kid everywhere.
Are you a woman who is an undergraduate or graduate student enrolled full-time at an accredited university in the US, in a STEM field? If you are, you now have an opportunity to apply for a Women Forward in Technology Scholarship.
Distil Networks just led a group of us, including Foundry Group, Techstars, Cooley, Yesware, Help Scout, Cloudability, Kulesa Faul, FullContact, and Anchor Point Foundation, to raise $50,000 to advance female representation in technology.
We will be awarding multiple scholarships of $3,000. The first deadline to submit is August 1st, 2017, and winners will be announced on September 1st, 2017. Interested applicants must complete a 1,000-word essay, present educational transcripts and deliver one letter of recommendation via the Women Forward in Technology application site.
I would love to see many more women involved in computer science, technology, and entrepreneurship. I’m hopeful that the $50,000 we raised for these scholarships is the start of something that can grow much larger. If you are interested in learning how you or your company can contribute to the scholarship fund, email me.
Several years ago on a Saturday I found myself at Bank of America Corporate Center in Charlotte. I was attending the second National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT) Awards for Aspirations in Computing event. I had gone for a three hour run early in the morning on a beautiful spring day in Charlotte and my mind was wandering all over the place.
As I entered the ballroom for the event, I encountered 32 young high school women and their parents. I wandered around and talked to most of the young women. They had a range of backgrounds, came from a bunch of different geographies, and were a mix of ethnicities. But they all had one thing in common – they loved computers.
As I got to know a few of them better, I learned that they did things like lead their First Robotics team. Write software for local businesses. Help out on systems for their schools and local governments. Hack on open source projects.
I was absolutely and completely blown away. And inspired. These young women were completely net native. They were from all over the place. They had a wide variety of teenage girl interests. But they were all fascinated with, and extremely competent with, computing. As much – or more – than I was in high school, and I spent an enormous amount of time with my head in my Apple ][.
On the spot, I called Amy and asked her if we could give each young woman a $1,000 scholarship in addition to the award they were getting. Amy said yes and Lucy Sanders, the CEO of NCWIT, announced it shortly thereafter. The scholarship was given to each Aspirations in Computing winner when they entered college as a freshman.
At this point, 100% of the women have gotten their scholarship. Many have already graduated. It’s incredibly rewarding to look at the list of schools, and the accomplishments, of these young women.
So Amy and I decided to do this again. We are giving another $1,000 scholarship to each winner of this year’s NCWIT Aspirations in Computing Award. There are going to be 35 this year, so that’s a $35,000 gift to NCWIT. Hopefully that will encourage some additional young women to apply.
I’ve been chair of NCWIT for a number of years and I am very proud of what the organization has done to encourage women at a young age to get involved or continue pursuing STEM fields. Each year, NCWIT selects a set of high school girls that show remarkable promise in the fields of computing or IT and recognizes them for their aptitude, leadership, and academics. This award also creates an environment for those students to succeed in college by offering them scholarships, internship opportunities, and much more. The business community and the academic community, nationally, have really come together to make the awards substantial and impactful. I encourage you to jump in and help out, and here are a few ways how:
- If you’re a young women, who’s applicable for this award, apply!
- If you’re not, tell a young women you know, or a few, about this award. The knowledge that there are people rooting for them to succeed in STEM fields can have a powerful effect. Here’s an easy way to encourage a student to apply.
- Offer a scholarship or host an award.
- Start a conversation about NCWIT and the work the organization is doing. What we need is more discourse around the issue of inequality in computing and IT. Bring it up at dinner. Start a discussion with your daughter, niece, or friend about it. Learn more about it.
These awards are a few steps in the right direction but there’s always more work to be done. If you have thoughts about how to get more young women in this generation into innovation field, I would love to hear them!
The application for the NCWIT Awards for Aspirations in Computing is open until October 31, 2013. Apply here.