Dare to STEAM

Surrounded by a fortress of picture books, three women took the dais to a round of applause louder than what’s typically heard in this Glen Ellyn meeting room. Instead of local citizens gathered to hear from their city council, the room was full of educators and librarians from across DuPage County ready to hear from three best-selling childrens’ authors. And not just any childrens’ books, either: these ladies write books designed to encourage kids of all ages to be interested in STEAM.

Injecting a Love of STEAM into Curricula and Play

STEAM. Every current educator knows what it stands for (Science, Technology, Engineering, Architecture/Art, Mathematics). They also know they are to place more focus on it in their classrooms. But for kids who aren’t ready for titration, or even times tables, how do they get them excited about the subjects in an organic way?

That’s where the evening’s panelists came into play. First was Sarah Aronson, author of Just Like Rube Goldberg, whose non-fiction account of Goldberg’s life as a picture book introduced her to the world of writing STEAM. Second was Andrea Beaty, author of Rosie Revere, Engineer and other picture and chapter books about The Questioneers, a fictional classroom of STEAM loving kids. Finally, the panel included Ruth Spiro, author of the Baby Loves series, which breaks scientific concepts down to the earliest reading levels. All of them spoke on their creative process, the inspiration behind their work, and the intersectionality among STEAM, children, and literature.

Scientists aren’t about having answers, they’re about asking questions.

All three authors noted that children naturally have the inquisitive minds of scientists, and they write to encourage that instinct. “Kids are really good at asking questions,” Spiro observed. She wants to make sure that her books reflect curious kids, with adults in their lives who model that curiosity. Beaty echoed that sentiment, remarking that “not knowing is the greatest thing in the world. Scientists aren’t about having answers, they’re about asking questions.” 

Unlikely Origins

Proving that creativity and innovation aren’t hampered by background, the women shared their journeys to become childrens’ book authors. Spiro was a magazine writer with no background in the sciences, while Beaty studied biology, not literature. Aronson described her career as a physical therapist who began writing on a dare. But each of them found parallels between their work then, and their work now.

“Story arcs are similar to the scientific method,” said Spiro. “My books are grounded in childhood experiences,” which helped her bridge the connection from reviewer of childrens’ books to a writer of STEAM books for children.

For Beaty, it was about seeing a story within her own children. After observing that her son loved building things, from school projects to simply stacking jam containers at restaurants, she thought more children should be encouraged to do the same. That became the foundation of her research process: observing the kids around her, as well as the ones her illustrator, David Roberts, draws into her stories.

On the other hand, Aronson’s biography of the famed inventor, Just Like Rube Goldberg, required meticulous research to not only earn its nonfiction status, but also meet the approval of Goldberg’s granddaughter. She explained that she had to “learn the research process as [she] did it.” She clearly succeeded, earning Goldberg’s granddaughter’s blessing and rave reviews from the literary community.

Failure is Fantastic

But what if Aronson hadn’t gotten the go-ahead to publish? Or if she had, what if no one had read the book? Well, in Aronson’s own words, it would’ve been okay, since “failure is amazing.” The other authors immediately agreed. Spiro commented that we have to teach our kids that failure is a part of life, and that “it’s safer to read about a character who’s failing” than to admit to their own failures. Beaty added that expectations need to be set for kids that sometimes things fail, or just don’t go well. In those cases, it’s not about the fact that there was a failure, but rather that there is now another chance for success. She tries to emphasize perseverance in her characters, so kids can see that failing is okay, as long as they keep trying.

For Spiro and Aronson, the main concept they wanted their audience to take away was that persistence and determination is what matters when it comes to kids in STEAM. Beaty summarized her message as being okay with who you are. Aronson concurred, commenting that “sometimes the last person we’re kind to is ourselves.”

Supporting Independent Bookstores

After she finished signing copies of her books which were purchased from the Bookstore of Glen Ellyn, Spiro suggested that the event was only the beginning of how the three authors could collaborate with Innovation DuPage. “There are many more events we can do, this is just the tip of the iceberg.”

Beaty was quick to agree. “It’s an exciting endeavor,” she commented, “I love seeing how my books connect with people.”

The three authors are proof that when people of different backgrounds reach outside of their comfort zones to explore concepts in new ways, innovation happens. And in this case, that innovative thinking is being passed down to the next generation.

Innovation DuPage organized the panel to support The Bookstore of Glen Ellyn and to promote new ways for educators and parents to engage innovative STEAM training. STAY TUNED as Innovation DuPage continues to support and engage the community with its next panel, “Kids, STEM, and Games”.

by Laura Zimmermann

Let Innovation DuPage help you take your idea from concept to success with an open-to-the-public event, our Incubator program or the Owner-to-CEO Accelerator. To learn more, call 630-942-3340 to explore your next steps.

From Aspiration to Achievement: Upcoming ID Workshop Perfect for Early-stage Startups

Do you have an early stage startup and want to increase your probability of success while simultaneously decreasing the time it takes to achieve it? If you said “Yes,” then plan to slide into the upcoming ID Mentor workshop offered by Mark Heintz, X9Y Consulting Group, for ID Members on Wednesday, October 2, 2019, 10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. at Innovation DuPage headquarters.

Heintz said, “The process of turning an idea into a scalable business model is like a journey. You need to know where you are, where you are going, and how to get there. This presentation will provide you with a high-level overview of the startup process and a methodology you can use to make progress and achieve results.”

Specifically, Mark will cover:

  • Steve Blank’s Customer Development Model to provide an overview of what you need to do to transform an idea into a scalable business

  • Planning and strategy processes to help you bring clarity, focus, and results to your startup

Your Takeaways

At the presentation’s conclusion, you will have a simple but effective set of tools to map out your situation, as well as a set of clear and focused goals, objectives, strategies and tactics to take you from aspiration to achievement.

Learn More About Mark Heintz

Mark’s background and experience are extensive. He has served as CEO for companies, consultant for clients and instructor for the ID Owner-to-CEO Accelerator program where he has received very high marks. Learn more about Mark and read his article The Power of Why on LinkedIn.

Let Innovation DuPage help you take your idea from concept to success with an open-to-the-public event, our Incubator program or the Owner-to-CEO Accelerator. To learn more, call 630-942-3340 to explore your next steps.

Know You. Know Why. Know What. Know How. Know Clarity Ventures.

3 min read …The 20th century was dominated by process efficiency. The first part of the 21st century has focused on technology innovation. Future success will be achieved by energizing people. Organizations that put people first by working with leaders and teams to solve people-related conflicts and maximize every team’s energy will radically improve team performance and more meaningfully achieve their overall mission. So said the founders of Clarity Ventures, Jonathan Schultz and Rommie Zats. The two conducted an ID Mentor Workshop recently at Innovation DuPage to help ID Members understand and manage the most crucial of issues affecting the likelihood of achievement: their own goals and personal motivations.

Know Your Biggest Conflict

Workshop participants found the interactive Clarity Ventures Energy Workshop to be well-managed, interactive and fast-paced. The duo helped each startup founder find solutions for the biggest conflict that was keeping them from achieving next level performance. “We want you to embrace the conflict and go forward,” said Schultz, explaining that diversity of thinking patterns and types of conflict is another kind of diversity teams should adjust for in addition to the most obvious, such as gender, sexual orientation, etc.

With a proven, proprietary framework, the Clarity Ventures workshop yielded energetic solutions and helped each participant define when they are at their best—and worst—as well as the biggest conflicts holding them and their startup back. Zats offered, “Energy underpins your performance. But what is energy? It’s your state of being and being your best person.” Once each person’s biggest conflict was identified, each participant was able to quickly design a solution to be put into action immediately.

The two-hour session didn’t end there. Each startup founder was matched with an accountability partner and was able to strike up a relationship with the Clarity Ventures team for future follow up. Even more, following the workshop, Clarity Ventures devoted 30–minute coaching sessions to follow up on the work each participant completed during the workshop to help frame and assist with any remaining conflicts—all for no additional charge.

What Past Participants Said

Without exception, participants were engaged and enthusiastic about the program. Jon Spungen, founder of startup letzgo, said, “This was really good for me. This organized process was very valuable and helpful.”

Chris Meyer, Stone Dog Productions, said, “I love the two-minute time pressure to identify ideas and solutions. They were all inside my head, and the pressure helped bring them out. And once they were put on paper the solutions become crystal clear.”

In total agreement, Justin Mayer of Encube.ai said, “Partnering up to build support for your ideas was super helpful. I’d like to continue on with this process on an on-going basis.”

More on Clarity Ventures

A startup organization themselves, Clarity Ventures has already put their powerful workshop sessions to use helping a number of teams to energize and break down conflicts.

Here are some examples of the types of conflicts Clarity Ventures has already helped teams solve:

  • Rapidly onboarding and integrating new team members so they can drive impact immediately
  • Resolving team conflict amongst team members / co-founders / investors
  • Teaching leaders to empower their teams and get out of the details
  • Supporting leaders and teams struggling with burnout and rejection
  • Helping leaders build empathy for their teams to better align and storytell on their mission

Schultz and Zats formed Clarity Ventures as people transformation consultants who bring out the best in leaders and their teams so they can make their mark on the world. They find out what energizes teams and remove what’s getting in the way through leadership development programs, team and individual workshops and executive coaching.

They have previously worked for some of the best companies in the world, including McKinsey and Google, where they observed extremely high-performing teams. They learned that teams are only able to maximize performance when they broke assumptions, supported each other and were enabled to be their best selves. Shutlz and Zats leveraged this experience along with extensive research to create a framework for both groups and individuals to enable maximum energy and performance.

Jonathan Schultz holds a Bachelor’s in Finance and Marketing from Augustana College and an MBA from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management. He has a background in strategy consulting with expertise in enterprise-wide transformations working for top companies such as McKinsey & Co. He gets energy from building and creating, working in chaos and ambiguity, and being a part of an open and supportive team.

Rommie Zats holds a Bachelor’s in Industrial & Systems Engineering from the University of Wisconsin – Madison and is currently pursuing his Executive MBA at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management. He has worked for a number of top organizations, including Google, where he has held strategy and operations roles leading and transforming global teams. He gets energy from challenging the status quo, tackling complex problems and surrounding himself with dreamers.

Let Innovation DuPage help you take your idea from concept to success with an open-to-the-public event, our Incubator program or the Owner-to-CEO Accelerator. To learn more, call 630-942-3340 to explore your next steps.

How COD Graphic Design Students Created for GOtivation

Portfolio Night 2019 is where design students from College of DuPage and high schools in the community were invited to present their work to a panel of judges and the public. Portfolio Night presents an opportunity to review the work of each student and talk with each artist in person.

One emerging company that worked with COD graphic design students was GOtivation. GOtivation worked with student designers at College of DuPage through their professor, Gautum Wadhwa, to create a series of icons and animated graphics to be used on the GOtivation mobile app. The app helps people get more fit by providing mental motivation through texts and messages to stick with a fitness plan via a game-like interface.

The students did a phenomenal job! Not only were they easy to work with, but they provided some great designs in a short period of time. Their effort has already been put to good use.

GOtivation Founder and CEO Dennis Timpanero said, “The students did a phenomenal job! Not only were they easy to work with, but they provided some great designs in a short period of time. Their effort has already been put to good use. We immediately started using the medals, badges, and other game graphics in the training course this week. Customers replied with comments like ‘ooooh,’ ‘nice!’ and even ‘fancy!’ Customers reached out unprompted and were really impressed with the professional level of the design. We really appreciated how the students worked this project into their busy class schedules and their other commitments.”

GOtivation plans to continue working with College of DuPage students in the future and was visible cheering them on at Portfolio Night 2019.

Portfolio Night 2019 at College of DuPage, an annual event, featured creative work ranging from a graphic design and illustrations to packaging and website designs. Graphic design students were recognized with awards and prizes in the following categories: Portfolio, Identity Design, Publication Design, Illustration, 3-D Design, and Web Design.

Learn more at http://www.cod.edu/design/portfolioReview.htm