“It’s an opportunity to create the future he wants to live in,” said his sponsor, David Sengeh, PhD Student at the MIT Media Lab. “For many years Sierra Leone and many other African countries received aid, but it does not necessarily get us anywhere. We’re not looking into the future, we’re not designing our own future. Unless we have a host of young people who can think at any given point ‘Here is a challenge. Here is a problem, but it’s an opportunity to solve it’ there won’t be a state of growth in national development.”

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Every once in a while, you come across something that makes you stop and think… As I watched this video as few years ago, I knew without a doubt what we are doing here at Innovation Academy is more than just great summer tech camps and engaging STEM classes. It’s more than just the cool factor or the thrill of presenting at conferences. (more…)

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What would you think if I told you everything we think we know about social change and equality is wrong?

You would probably tell me to stop making inflammatory statements, but I am going to ask you to hear me out for 3 paragraphs, no more.  Stop reading if the next three paragraphs don’t call up nagging questions in your mind.

In one decade, humans went from being a terrestrially bound species to being an interplanetary one.  Then quietly, our two major superpowers then in the throes of a bitter Cold War backed down a little, and the fury of passions driving the Space Race cooled.  We scaled back our dreams and settled for space stations orbiting earth and an orbital taxi to Shuttle things to and from earth orbiting stations and satellites. (more…)

What constitutes a good life?

There are probably as many answers to that question as there are eyes to read it, and yet I can’t help asking it. At some level we are fixated with achieving it, but on the other hand often frustrated in both our ability to define it and our effort to achieve it. Happiness seems fleeting and elusive.

Yet happiness and “the good life” are much closer than most of us realize. It is tempting to begin by describing the characteristics that may lead us to be happy. Our political and religious leaders are sure to have ready answers, but in the richest country on earth, we have lots of unhappy people. However at the risk of sounding overconfident, I am pretty sure I have the answer.

My parents just celebrated their 50th anniversary. That is an impressive milestone and did not come without a tremendous amount of hard work. I have seen my parent’s relationship for years, and they don’t have much in common. I know this sounds like a strange way to begin, but hear me out.

My dad loves to work. He always has a project, or 10 projects, going at once. In addition to the business he has, he is always remodeling, re-landscaping, or re-doing just about everything around the house and even at other people’s houses. He is also reserved and quiet unless you ask just the right question. He would be happy being left alone with a good book.

My mom on the other hand, loves to plan events where lots of friends and family come together and have a fun time. She loves to laugh and watch as people enjoy the outgrowth of her plans. She would much rather be in the middle of a bustling group than bored alone at home. Her idea of fun always involves friends, family, and free time. (more…)

If you are concerned about how to prepare your teenager for the harsh realities of life after high school, you are not alone.  There’s test prep.  Keeping up the grades.  Extracurricular activities.  And somewhere, a social life.  

Yet studies have shown that SAT scores aren’t a good predictor of future success.  Grades are also an iffy predictor for success, according to Google’s hiring team.  These assertions are disconcerting for parents like me who love to see those “A’s” on the report card.  How can I make sure my kids are ready for the world they are inheriting?

Is there a cheat sheet for the most important things teens need to know?

Fortunately, there is. (more…)

These are candid videos of teens caught doing amazing things during Engineering Camp.  Listen to these students describing what they have been doing.  Lots of experimentation.  Lots of learning.

These guys built the world’s coolest “Hello World” program:

 

They modified the program even further, and this is what they had to show the audience during their project exhibitions.

Major 3D design and 3D printing innovation for the interplanetary ship docking challenge: (more…)

One night not too long ago your dear, sweet child went to sleep in their safe little bed.  But during the night the Teenager Fairy flew in the window and sprinkled pixie dust around the room.  In the morning your radiant ray of sunshine had been replaced by a moody teenager!

I remember that transition quite clearly for each of my older children.  One day they are helpful and kind, and the next they are temperamental and stubborn.

Or are adolescents really as insufferable as we paint them?

I’d like to help you reframe the image of your teenager.  Those annoying behaviors they have are really quite necessary and part of a much bigger destiny.  Teens receive quite a bit of bad press, but let’s follow them on a journey to see what’s really happening. (more…)