How Mom Sparked a Growth Mindset in Our Families

Hello, family. In my post today, I wanted to reflect upon how our mom has loved and inspired her family through her life. I hope these stories of my mother, Belen Rosario, might offer motivation to other families. At InspiredToEducate.NET, our mission is to help students love learning through creative projects and exploration. Writing this post helped me understand my root system and personal curiosity for the power of learning and how a learning mindset can grow communities.

In my own way, I hope this post helps me and my family meditate on the life of my mother Belen. On Nov 20th, 2020, my mother celebrated her birthday into heaven after a challenging battle with cancer. I’m so excited that she’s finally at peace. I praise God that she enjoys the light and comfort of our heavenly Father and the amazing jam session of praise with all the saints and angels.

For my brother and I, we have been so blessed to have a loving mom and dad. Let’s be real. In the Rosario home, we’re not unlike any other family. We have our imperfections and vices. I, however, feel that my mom, Belen, lived out some of the best qualities of a Catholic momma. I hope I can foster her legacy of being a good Catholic parent.

My mom encouraged a spirit of generosity: Belen was born on Christmas day in 1945 to a loving family of teachers in the Philippines. Belen actually means Bethlehem in Spanish. My grandfather Pedro taught her family about the enabling power of learning. Grandpa Pedro had the vision of enabling his daughters and son to live a thriving life, but lacked the financial means to provide university education to all of his children. According to the family stories, Momma worked very hard in her schooling to explore the sciences and eventually earned a B.S. degree at University of Santo Tomas in Manilla in the Philippines. As she grew as a professional, she would live a modest life and send money back to her family. As a young adult, she earned an opportunity to immigrate to the United States which strongly needed medical technologists skilled in chemistry. She knew that making a transition to the US would take her away from her family in the Philippines, but knew that it would create greater opportunities for her and her larger family. My mom and my wonderful father Moses met while they both worked in a medical lab in New York. As I recall my mom’s words, she says “I’m not sure why this young guy kept following me around.” They, however, fell in love and started their family together. My mom and dad have always encouraged a spirit of generosity. They sent money back to the Philippines to help fund the education of her siblings. We’re proud of our momma who helped her family members earn degrees in engineering, medicine and finance. Mom’s story captures the best of the American dream. She came to the US with a spunky drive and educational opportunities. She converted those assets into a beautiful life for herself and opportunities for her family. I have loved hearing stories of how mom and dad helped Tita Gloria and Tito Ernie jumpstart their marriage and life in the US. While we didn’t have a lot, my mom and dad have lived out the “go giver” attitude to help friends in need. #ProudOfMom #ProudOfDad

Keeping the faith: One of the most precious gifts that mom and dad gave to us was the gift of faith. My mom and dad made great financial sacrifices to make sure Francis and I had the best in Catholic education. I also had the opportunity to attend Jesuit High school in Tampa, one of the finest Catholic schools in town. Given that we grew up in Florida, we grew up with the legends and stories of watching the space program. (from Apollo and to the Shuttle program) I can recall fun stories of my dad leading us through fun slide shows of exploring space. From my mom’s side, she did a great job of encouraging our curiosity in science. If we wanted to learn about something, we had a cool encyclopedia and tons of other educational materials so that we could explore our curiosity. Many people put science and faith into different boxes. We were blessed with a family that encouraged the wonder of science and understood that God’s hand orchestrated every detail. While we weren’t a perfect family, we learned the value of our faith, the habits of prayer, and the beautiful rituals of our Catholic faith. These habits have helped us shape our hearts for the Lord. As the family faced the trials of cancer for my mother and brother, I kept seeing my mom turn to Jesus and calling upon the mercy of Momma Mary through the rosary.

Fostering creativity and music: Great art and technical work requires the discipline of incremental practice, trial, failing, and persistence. I feel like Francis and I learned these lessons through our family culture of tinkering, art and music. My dad created opportunities to get early exposure to computers and their creative power. My first experiences with a computer gave us exposure to creating art on a computer or simple code experiments. My brother and I had robust opportunities to learn and explore music. We enjoyed our opportunities to learn violin, piano, and sing. ( And mom loved to sing!) To be honest, when we started playing violin it sounded like we were killing cats. Not sure how we progressed beyond that. At some later point, we gained enough skills to join our music ministry at Christ the King. Some of my favorite memories involve me and my brother getting to serve at 5:30 pm contemporary choirs, sharing music at the carnival and serving in youth ministry. My mom and dad largely supported the strengths of my brother in performing and visual art. It’s been cool to see his passions lean toward creative digital fabrication and digital media. On a personal level, I didn’t realize it at the time, but these became pivot points for preparing me for future work in music ministry later in college. I know these experiences helped us gain a growth mindset for our respective careers.

Toward the end, I helped my mom reflect upon the influence of her life. I talked about Pam and Wilson who met while serving in my campus ministry choir at UCF. Like many beautiful stories, Pam and Wilson fell in love through their shared passion for Christ and music. They have a beautiful Catholic family that I cherish. Since those precious years of being a founding member of and, hundreds of students have changed their lives because of their deep encounter with Jesus in these ministries. Holy men and women have decided to give their lives to Jesus as priests and nuns. Generations of Catholic families will continue to be born. My mom has beautiful spiritual grand-children because she planted the love of God and music in my heart. To return to the simple teaching of Mother Teresa, can loving your family truly change the world? It’s a great hypothesis for families to consider. It’s a hypothesis that we consider testing with our loved ones. I know our family will always be proud of our dearest Belen.

While we’re sad to lose momma on Earth, we’re excited for momma for her birthday in heaven. Can’t wait to hear the stories of her meeting Jesus, her mom, dad, and other dear ones in heaven. We’re so glad that she now enjoys a glorified body, the love of Christ, and no more pain. Excited to seek Lola Belen’s intersession. Saint Belen Rosario … Pray for us!!

Connecting Community Service to Makerspaces and Developer Communities

Team Open Barter

In November 2017, I had the honor of speaking at DevFest Florida, a community organized developer conference focusing on Google technology. I had an amazing time at this conference. You can check out my reflections on this experience at Readers of InspiredToEducate.NET know that we’re passionate about helping students to love learning through making, tinkering, and engineering. For me, I encountered a talk that impacted me regarding the intersection of community service and maker education. I do believe in Daniel Pink‘s argument that we’re very motivated or driven in situations where we have autonomy,  are growing in mastery, and acting with purpose. The projects that I’ll discuss in this post connect strongly to mastery and purpose motivations. This talk encouraged me to reflect on why I enjoy helping people to learn to code and the culture of a maker space.

Etienne Caron-Petit-Pas shared an amazing story of using mixed reality and maker technologies to create a positive social impact in this community. In OSMOS academy that he helps organize, I appreciated that their community focuses on building stuff that can help enrich people’s lives. It’s not just about the maker tech. For example, their current project focused on building playful VR experiences to support and distract kids who are going through medical procedures in a hospital. Some of the other projects they have attempted feel like citizen science efforts. This talk touches technology ranging from Google Daydream, augmented reality, Android Things and more.

In general, we’ve explored the idea that maker education connects students to the experience of project based learning. Under this paradigm, students engage in learning through the construction of projects or physical stuff. Learning is not centered around a teacher as the center of knowledge. Maker education learning experience always ask students to personalize the learning experience by asking the student: what do you want to make? All other lessons connect into project direction set by the student.

Along a similar theme, I recently encountered a cool podcast interviewing the founder of, Quincy Larson. Quincy Larson worked in a traditional k-12 school working as a teacher. Along the way, he became interested in giving his fellow teachers more time by automating administrative computer tasks and creating systems for automatic grading. Through this experience, he became interested in learning to program professionally. After connecting with local makerspaces/hackathons, local meetups, and doing thousand of hours of study of MOOCs, he returned to his “teacher hat” and realized that many others might want to go on this journey too. He helped organize to help other “campers” leverage resources and coaching he had gained. I’m very impressed with the scale of curriculum, community and effort to create local meetups in cities near you. While it’s easy to find YouTube videos or Mooc content to learn stuff, their teaching team acknowledges that learning as a local tribe in your local coffee shop or makerspace really helps to drive the learning forward. It’s very easy to get demotivated when you don’t have mentors or fellow students to go on the journey with you.

I do want to give a shout out to “The Change Log” podcast that shared this conversation.  I haven’t been listening to them long, but I enjoy their content. connects with the idea of community service learning by engaging real non-profits with real IT needs with their students. It’s a really neat “win-win” situation. The non-profit gets a cost effective solution. The students have a great learning experience addressing a local need while growing their web development skills.

On a personal level, I have enjoyed seeing students(young and old) become engaged with their path of learning through hackathons, makerspaces, and developer community. Why does community service learning matter? This feels like a unique flavor of project based learning since grass root connected learners work together to learn while making a difference in their community. The world needs more of this kind of innovation in education and community service.

Related blog posts

Giving Yourself Margin

Enjoying Nature

I’m in one of those seasons of life where my schedule feels three notches beyond packed.  We enjoy staying active in our church, our community, and family.  My wife and I believe in the concept of going above and beyond in our professional lives too.   We, however, recognize that packing our lives with more activities isn’t sustainable or healthy.  

As I’ve been reading about innovative teams and business culture, I’ve been smacked in the face by this very simple idea: margin.  It’s the idea of giving yourself or your team the gift of time.   Here are a few places where this idea shows up:

  • “Innovation time off”: The post-it note was invested at 3M when a leader gave his team 20% of their work time to develop new product concepts.  Innovators like Google have adopted this idea of “innovation time off” too.  Through this strategy, Googlers invented amazing products like Gmail, Google Cardboard, and many others.   
  • Create margin for your teams: In the world of engineering, there’s a temptation to plan monthly schedules down to the exact hour to make sure you’re getting 100% capacity from the team.   The best teams make time to plan regularly.   They, however, acknowledge that you can’t think and plan for everything.  In fact, that level of planning is wasteful.  It’s great to give your team margin to account for the unexpected stuff that ALWAYS happens and creates the opportunity for creative thought.  The extra time can be helpful to address process improvement or reduce technical debt.
  • Genius hour: It’s cool to see the idea of margin showing up in k-12 education too.   Many innovative educators have tried increasing student engagement in learning by empowering them to have time to learn a topic of interest to the student.   In most cases, the student present their work or new knowledge to the rest of the class.   To learn more about this practice, check out the following posts on Edutopia and Gallit Zvi’s blog.  

In the world of personal finance, it’s a common practice to make sure you have an emergency fund to cover the unexpected things of life.   I have to say that I’m guilty of not always creating margin for myself to have down time to recharge my mind, my heart, and soul.   This might be prayer, going fishing or having open time to relax.   This is a place of growth for me.   It’s an opportunity to learn to say “no” to some good things of life to make room for the best.

What are your favorite ways to create margin for your team?   How do you create margin for yourself?


Photo Credit:

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Civic Hacking: Why does it matter?

Hack for change picuture

Civic hacking has become a potent movement for engaging coders, designers, and technology professionals in challenges that matter to the community.   Computer hacking tends to have a negative connotation.  Some call civic hacking “hacking gone good” since it’s really about community service and place making.

I had the good fortune to participate in the National Day of Civic hacking on June 6th at SparkMacon MakerSpace.  I want to give a shout out to the organizations that made the event possible: TAG Middle Georgia, LBA Ware, Infinity Network Solutions and Spinen.   I especially want to thank the team that organized the event for their investment of time in organizing challenge mentors, making people feel welcome, and supporting our makers.

Hack For Change

Some argue that civic hackathons have little value since it’s rare to find apps that find their way into full implementation and  achieve impact.  I, however, feel that civic hackathons offer our communities a number of benefits.

  • Building a tribe change makers: It’s great to meet like mind technologists who care about making a positive impact in their community.  Hackathons enable you to meet new people, make connections, and learn about the deeper needs of your area.  Through the experience, you learn about new tools, practices, and strategies for doing rapid prototyping.
  • Local Data, Local Impact: Democracy only works when citizens are engaged.   I appreciate that the civic hacking movement helps us to learn about local concerns and empowers us to do something about it.  Being a geek about data, it’s also fascinating to learn about the open government API’s and data sources that can support civic apps.
  • Voting with your code: It’s interesting to see what problems makers care about.   In a typical hackathon, there’s a broad range of issues, data and topics to choose.  The team tends to select projects based on skill level, their engagement in the topic, and challenge difficulty.
  • Building a community of support: During our hackathon event, it was cool to see how different teams mentored and supported each other.  Everyone has different strengths in terms of design or technology.   I can honestly say that everyone learned from each other.   In our hackathon in Macon, it was nice to see the experienced hackers mentoring the new developers and helping them feel welcome.

In our hackathon in Macon, GA, one team created an mobile app serving Peace corp team members to help them to know about safety and security alerts as they travel to various countries.   Another team of hackers helped propose and prototype applications that would help high school students with learning vocabulary for SAT/ACT .

We had some important discussions on the real impact of hackathons.   In general, how do we care, feed, market, and grow various hackathon ideas?  How do you care for the hacks from a software maintenance point of view?  How do you intentionally organize the challenge ideas and data sets?  The team from Spinen made some strong arguments for making a home for these concerns.  I’m interested in seeing how this idea can grow.

Are you interested in contributing a challenge problem for future hackathons for SparkMacon Makerspace?  Feel free to contribute your ideas here:

Submit a hackathon challenge idea to SparkMacon

To help contribute to this conversation locally for Middle Georgia, I have compiled most of the challenge problems, data, resources, and links from previous SparkMacon hackathons and HackForChange events.  At a minimum, it would be cool to create a backlog of challenge ideas that can be used in future Middle Georgia hackathons and SparkMacon Open Make events.

Middle Georgia Civic Hacking Projects and Resources

To close, here’s some links sharing the impact of civic hacking in communities.   I think it’s work that matters.   I believe it’s a cool way to innovate our communities and create engagement.   What do you think?


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“CITIZENSHIP IN A REPUBLIC” – Theodore Roosevelt


During my morning reading, I encountered this powerful quote from Theodore Roosevelt from his “CITIZENSHIP IN A REPUBLIC” speech.  I just had to share it.  Life is a gift.  Life is short.  Are we “daring greatly?”


“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”


You can find the whole speech here:


FireSarter: Entrepreneur & Innovation Community



Firestarter in Warner Robins,GA


Are you looking for a place in Warner Robins, GA to rapidly prototype a product or test a business concept?   Are you looking for a community to learn technical skills and grow your business concept?  Are you interested in learning more about the makers movement in Warner Robins, GA?   If you’re a business leader or maker in Middle, GA, make sure to attend the FireStarter meetup on April 30th.

If you follow this blog, you know that I serve as a founding member of SparkMacon Makerspace in Macon, GA.  Our community is VERY excited for the FireStarter community.   Our leadership team is actively finding ways that we can support and grow this community of business leaders and makers.   We hope to find ways for SparkMacon and FireStarter can collaborate.   From reviewing their website and materials, I’m excited to see the focus and direction of this community.

What kind of benefits can makerspaces and fab labs have on the local economy?  Check out the impact of another makerspace in Augusta, GA: .

If you care about fostering the makers movement in Middle, GA, make sure to attend the FireStarter meetup.   You won’t be disappointed.


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Why Does the Makers Movement Matter?

Robots Under God: A Project from Atlanta Mini Maker Faire 2013

As I woke up to attend the Atlanta Makerfaire 2014, I started to reflect upon why I personally get excited about growing the SparkMacon MakerSpace community. Why is building a makerspace community important? Why is growing a community of art and technology creatives worthy of investment and time?

Highlights from Atlanta Maker Faire 2014

Growing Innovative Culture and People: I personally believe that the organizations that will make the biggest impact in the world are creative organizations.   In the past few years, I started to become an anthropologist of innovation. I’m naturally curious about how communities organize themselves so that they maximize their impact and creative output. (i.e. Google, Apple, Pixar, Ideo, etc.)  What do these communities believe and value? What motivates them? How do they lead and communicate? Helping to grow SparkMacon’s community has been such a wonderful opportunity to explore these questions with other Middle Georgia leaders. By working hard and putting people first, we are trying to find answers to these questions. We have such a wonderful and generous team.

I believe the Makers movement is a game changer. In the context of education, I hope that we can inspire students to just love learning. The Maker education movement has challenged our communities to give students freedom to explore their own creativity and process of discovery. It’s amazing to see a child’s creative capacity if they are given the creative freedom, tools, and supportive coaching. On the business front, it’s amazing that we now live in a world where an ideas can be sketched on a computer. (i.e. an app, a 3D design, a song, art, etc) Over the next few years, we will continue to see that it’s possible to take the “bits” of your idea and convert them into a prototype or something that can be sold. (“atoms”) Check out our blog post here for more details on this trend.  I’m excited that I was able to take a Google Cardboard prototype that I created using TinkerCAD and turn it into a working minimum viable product.  The sketching process took one or two hours.  The 3D printing process took 5 to 6 hours.  In a world where digital fabrication technologies enable us to prototype new products in days, how do we teach our students and communities to become great product designers?  How do we empower their creativity and capacity for innovation?

Google Cardboard

Being creative and tinkering with my kids: While I enjoy technology, I love my family. I’m very thankful to my mom and dad for fostering my personal creativity through music. These creative experiences have given my life joy, richness, depth, and way to serve others though music.  I will always cherish my experiences as a choir director.   I think I’ve taken this ethos into my career as a software developer and my path as an aspiring maker. It’s wonderful to be able to be able to share the joy of making and tinkering with my kids and my wife. I love hearing my kids say “that’s cool!!” when they discover a cool robot, play with lego’s or make something awesome on their own. It’s the best feeling in the world.

Please consider finding and supporting a Makerspace or MakerFaire in your area.   It’s a worthy community effort.   It’s not just about technology or art.  It’s about making the world a better place.

All the best!


Support SparkMacon: Our MakerSpace for Macon, GA by giving to our IndieGogo funding campaign. .

Even small contributions are helpful. We’re very thankful for the generosity of our readers.
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Science Education



SparkMacon MakerSpace CROWDFUNDING CAMPAIGN HAS LAUNCHED! Contribute now and tell your friends!



SparkMacon is a community innovation space equipped with the tools, equipment, and grass-roots education required to convert your idea into a reality. Think of us as a gym membership to exercise your creativity, hands and brain. We aspire to blend the best of art and technology.

Learn more about our SparkMacon campaign at

We aspire to build an authentic community of makers and business leaders.  To help create a thriving culture of innovation in Middle Georgia, we believe that our community should consider adopting the following values.

Most of these value propositions have been adapted from Ideo, a leading innovation consulting firm.

We were very excited to open the SparkMacon MakerSpace doors to our community.    After consultation with other MakerSpaces in the Georgia area, we were strongly advised to seek community feedback on tools and materials that we should consider purchasing for the space.   Likewise, our focus group provided suggestions on education programs they would like to see in SparkMacon.

Thank you again to Molly and Andrew from Georgia Pallet for sharing their pictures from the event!

For everyone who attended our first community meeting on Sept 4th, please know that we’re very thankful for your time, feedback and influence.   We have integrated and organized the focus group data and online survey data.   This data will be influencing our first round of equipment purchases and projects for our MakerSpace.  In the interests of transparency, we wanted to share this data with you, our community!  We have detailed all of the community feedback data at the conclusion of this post.

How can the community help in building the Maker Space?

Please consider volunteering to help build and assemble the MakerSpace.   Please follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or on our email list.   We also appreciate you sharing this vision for SparkMacon with your friends and family.    We will be posting volunteer opportunities soon.

  • First Cleanup day: This day will be the general cleaning day to get the space ready to pain.
  • Painting day: This day will focus on paining the stairs and walls of the space.
  • Workbench building.
  • Floor Finishing and Repair.
  • Partition Build: Once the space is “ready” we will be putting up partitions to separate the dirty shop from the rest of the space.  This will also serve to provide a storage space for supplies.

Can the community or my business sponsor equipment?

Yes.  We’re very thankful for any contributions from the community.   If your business is interested in sponsoring equipment or classes for the community space, please let us know.  Please direct your messages to .

How do I sign up for membership?  How do I contribute to the sustainment of SparkMacon?

Part of receiving the full amount from our initial seed grant from the Georgia Technology Authority (GTA) requires us to be able to show community support through a crowd funding campaign.

Learn more about our SparkMacon campaign at

We also know that without your financial support this project will be short lived.  We need members and community support from the start to succeed and that is where you come in.  With your support we hope to provide a home for the next generation of inventors and creators, support creative hobbies, and provide the resources for those individuals who are ready to create now.

While the GTA grant will provide for many of the initial tools and resources the space will need, there are many that it won’t.  Funds from this campaign will go toward expanding our offering to address more needs that the community has outlined in our initial research.

We hope we have provided perks at all levels for all people no matter their interest.  But some of the cool ones are discounted members, workshop attendance, T-Shirts, and invitations to our grand opening and Donor dinner.  Not to mention inclusion on our donor walls inside the space.

Thank You MaconMakers for all of your support and enthusiasm for this community venture.   With your help and our community collaboration, we know that we will be helping Macon citizens succeed in their businesses, create job opportunities, be more creative and innovative.

Questions or comments?   Drop us a line on Facebook, Twitter, or at .



Projects and Events Requested by Community

  • Young Makers Program
  • Cosplay
  • Support Local Robotics Team
  • Community Message Board
  • Design Mentor
  • Student Organizations
  • Makers Mixers
  • Partner with University Community Service Organizations. Create interesting service learning opportunities for students.

Technology Equipment Requested by Community

  • Legos /  Lego WeDo /Space for young makers to build
  • Digital Fabrication Equipment
    • 3-D printer(8 mentions)
    • 3D Scanner(4 mentions)
    • Laser Cutter(3 mentions)
    • CNC Machine(2 mentions)
    • 3D modeling workstation
  • Electronics
    • Soldering tools/welding(4 mentions)
    • Oscilloscope(2 mentions)
    • Raspberry Pi’s
    • Spectrum Analyzer
    • Frequency Counter
    • Galileo board’s
    • Logic Analysis Tools
    • Electronic parts inventory
    • Printed circuit board making tools
    • Breadboarding
    • Arduinos
  • Media
    • Music Lab/Audio Booth/Recording Studio(7 mentions)
    • Green Screen(2 mentions)
    • Video Presentation Equipment(2 mentions)
    • 3D Motion Capture Device
    • Adobe Creative Suite
    • Computer Stations

  Artisan/Craft Equipment Requested by Community

  • Photography Studio/Dark Room(3 mentions)
  • Metal/Clay Kiln(3 mentions)
  • Pottery wheel(2 mentions)
  • Drill Press(2 mentions)
  • Jewelry tools(2 mentions)
  • Floor Loom(2 mentions)
  • Air Brush
  • Anvil
  • Art Area
  • Art supplies & tools for conventional media artists
  • Band Saw
  • Belt Sander
  • Dishing Hammer & Bowl
  • Dress Forms
  • Embroidery Machine
  • Foam
  • Hammers for Blacksmithing
  • Industrial Sewing Machine
  • Lathe
  • Magnetized Picker Upper
  • Mini Forge
  • Paint Booth
  • Serger/Overlocker
  • Shop Vacs
  • Spinning Wheel
  • Spray Paint Gun
  • Vacuum Press/Form
  • Wood Shop

Education Requested By Community 

Area Class Title Freq
artisan/craft Tool Training: Basic Woodworking Tools 7
artisan/craft Tool Training: Hands On Metalworking Tools 5
artisan/craft Tool Training: Table saw Fundamentals 5
artisan/craft Jewelry I: Introduction to Metalsmithing 4
artisan/craft Tool Training: Rough to Smooth — Using the Miter Saw, Band Saw, Jointer & Planer 4
artisan/craft Photography Master Class 3
artisan/craft Tool Training: Hot Craft Studio Jewelry Shop 3
artisan/craft Tool Training: Router Table Fundamentals 3
artisan/craft Painting Master Class 2
artisan/craft Blacksmithing 1
artisan/craft Brewery Lessons 1
artisan/craft Chain Maille 1
artisan/craft Culinary Arts 1
artisan/craft Fabric Dying 1
artisan/craft Glass working 1
artisan/craft Horticulture 1
artisan/craft Leather Tanning 1
artisan/craft Sewing and Knitting 1
artisan/craft Weaving 1
business Business Consulting for Artists & Makers: Office Hours 7
business Arts Marketing for Artists & Makers: Office Hours 6
business Social Media Marketing 6
business Getting Started with WordPress 4
business Scrum Master Training 1
education Invent To Learn: Bringing Making and Tinkering to the Class Room 5
education Young Makers: Robotics 4
education Young Makers: Game Design 1
technology Introduction to 3D Modeling 13
technology Tool Training: 3D Printer 9
technology Intro to Inkscape for (Laser) Cutting / Laster Cutting 6
technology Circuit Hacking/Circuts 101/Electronic Workshop/Soldering 5
technology Introduction to Arduino 5
technology Introduction to Rasberry Pi 4
technology Programming the Web: HTML5 and JavaScript 4
technology Programming Simple Animations Using HTML, Canvas, and JavaScript 3
technology PC Board Making 1



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Beyond the Obvious by @PhilMckinney [Review]

Network of Ideas

Are you a leader, entrepreneur, or researcher looking for a system for making your organization more innovative?  In our economy, creativity has become critical skill.   In a music context, the artists that continue to re-invent themselves find ways to remain relevant, fresh, and attractive to the market.   Organizations take huge risks when they don’t reflect on their product or service offerings and look for new ways to serve.   (When was the last time you used Kodak?  How about AOL?)

Our book club at work just finished “Beyond the Obvious” by Phil McKinney, a book helping organizations create a disciplined culture of innovation.   Mr. McKinney was a director for innovation at HP. In this book, he shares his systems, plans, and soft skills required to organize innovation team and create new products and services.   He has a wealth of experience from other technology companies he has directed too.   In my view, I found this book very pragmatic and thoughtful to helping us focus our innovation activities.

Key points from “Beyond the Obvious”:

  • Questions Matter: The questions that we ask determine the quality of ideas we receive from our teams.   The book is designed to help organizations find “Killer Innovations.”    While most organizations focus on incremental innovations, Mr. McKinney coaches leaders to ask bolder questions to discover ideas that are desired by the market and remarkable.  What are the assumptions of your organization or processes?  What if you changed the assumptions about who you serve and how you serve them? “What are the criteria our customers use when selecting our product or service?”  You can find more “Killer questions” from Phil’s Twitter feed and website.
  • Management of Ideas:  You have a system for managing your money in your business or family.   In a similar way, Phil coaches organizations to create systems for managing ideas.  The book reviews a gated funding model to help your team and leadership manage risk thoughtfully.  He argues that ideas with remarkable execution define innovative companies.  Phil introduces readers to his “FIRE” method: focus, ideation, ranking, execution.
    • Focus – He encourages leaders to use bold questions to challenge and focus the attention of the organization.   This phase can also be informed by market research.  On a personal level, you also might consider your passions too.  He also challenges organizations to REALLY know who you serve.
    • Ideation – It’s important for organizations to find a system for documenting their ideas.   If you have ideas stuck in emails or meeting memo’s, it will be hard to move those ideas forward.    You also want ideas to mingle and combine.   In this phase, you want to encourage your team to combine ideas together to create new concepts.   This is especially potent when ideas combine from different divisions or functional groups.  The following TED talk speaks to this concept too.

    • Ranking – You might have hundreds of ideas.   How do you find the top 5% or 10%?   He challenges organizations to use gamification, voting, and other mechanisms to help you discover your best ideas and focus on those concepts.
    • Execution – Phil challenges individuals and organizations to move and execute their ideas.   In this perspective, he challenges organizations to build prototypes, perform limited launches, and get feedback from users.   If you start finding successes with these small prototypes and limited launches, then start selling the product and service and measure the impact thoughtful.   This is a very similar concept to “build, measure, learn” concept from Lean Startup by Eric Ries.
  •  In the closing chapters of the book, he provides a clear plan for running innovation workshops with your team.   His six golden rules for innovation workshops include the following: (1) Setting the focus, (2) Assigning 2 “Killer Questions, (3) Encourage research, (4) Don’t filter ideas, (5) Schedule time for idea generation, and (6) ranking ideas.

I think OpenIdeo is a solid example of Phil’s FIRE system in action.   If you’re looking for fresh ideas on civic entrepreneurship, this is a great website.   Notice how the website encourages focus through questions, ideation, and ranking.

If you’re serious about creating a culture of innovation, I would highly recommend Phil McKinney, “Beyond and the Obvious”, and his podcasts.    They are not easy teachings.   I, however, think they are ideas that will make a difference.


How do you keep yourself innovative and creative?


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Trends You Need To Know from #OSCON 2014


The culture of open source continues to make an impact beyond software and programming. The ethos of open source has helped fuel the makers movement.   In the open source convention(#OSCON 2014), speakers reviewed the impact of open source in government, education, manufacturing, and making.  The OSCON event is one of the most popular forums reviewing the best of open culture.

It has been cool to see technology conferences including educational tracks.   As a community of technology professionals, we know that we need to inspire and engage young makers.   We need to find ways to make science, technology, engineering, art, and math exciting, relevant, and meaningful.   I think it’s so cool that OSCON included content to help kids get started with computer programming.  The first keynote from the conference was given by a young maker.  (see video below)   To learn more about the educational track of OSCON Kids Day, check out this discussion from FLOSS weekly.

I hope you enjoy these stories from OSCON 2014.


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