May 12, 2015

South Florida entrepreneurs honored at White House

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Young South Florida entrepreneurs were honored at or invited to the White House this week: Felipe Gomez del Campo V, a student entrepreneur at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland who went to high school at Cypress Bay High School in Weston; Vicente Fernandez, co-founder of Miami-based Sportsmanias, and Felice Gorodo, CEO of Clearpath.

Also representing the 305 at the White House's #StartTheSpark event, Gorodo said: Melissa Medina of eMerge Americas and Tony Jimenez of Richmond Global. Both took part in an investor segment. 

Felipe Gomez del Campo (pictured above)  began his work for a science fair project at Cypress Bay. The founder of FGC Plasma Solutions is one of five entrepreneurs President Barack Obama recognized at a White House event yesterday to highlight the importance of investing in women and young entrepreneurs. Gomez del Campo’s application was selected from among the many business startups that had been assisted by a U.S. government initiative.  The other four were from Virginia, Colombia, Nigeria and Lebanon.

Since his science fair days, Gomez del Campo turned his idea into a company with two patents (the latest just filed last Friday) and has conducted research with NASA.

Gomez del Campo, a junior who is majoring in mechanical and aerospace engineering, founded FGC Plasma Solutions in 2013 to bring to market a device that shoots a precise amount of plasma into jet engine fuel. That plasma injection blows the fuel apart into its component molecules, allowing the engine to burn it more efficiently. The product can improve the safety and efficiency of jet engines, as well as lead to a 10 percent decrease in fuel consumption. His work could result in significant savings and reduce harmful gas emissions for both jet engines on airliners and industrial gas turbines used to generate power.

A native of Mexico City, Gomez del Campo moved to the Miami area at the age of 6. Now, after becoming a U.S. citizen just last year, he hopes to set up an “entrepreneurship ecosystem” in Mexico, similar to the one he’s had at Case Western Reserve.

Also on Monday, Vicente Fernandez from Sportsmanias (pictured below at the event with Mark Cuban) was an invited guest for the Emerging Global Entrepreneurs Event. About 70 entrepreneurs were invited as part of the White House's emphasis on young and female entrepreneurs creating innovative business solutions to tackle the world's toughest challenges. Fernandez was being recognized for carrying on his family's entrepreneurial spirit with his grandfather creating a family bus company that has thrived for 40 years since fleeing Cuba and moving to the U.S., and Fernandez enduring all his success since launching Sportsmanias.

Sportsmanias, launched in 2012 by Fernandez and his mother, Aymara Del Aguila,  is a comprehensive and personalized media site for die-hard sports fans that has formed partnerships with sports journalism sites, including the Miami Herald, and has attracted several million in Series A funding. Fernandez, who started Sportsmanias when he was a student at University of Chicago, was the only sports or media entrepreneur invited.

 

VicenteMarkCuban

ClearpathFelice Gorordo, the son of Cuban immigrants, is CEO of Clearpath, a venture-backed tech company that revolutionizes the confusing, costly, paper-based immigration filing process by making it easier, more affordable and secure for individual immigrants to file their own immigration applications.

Along with Tony Jimenez, Gorordo co-founded Roots of Hope, a national non-profit focused on youth empowerment in Cuba. He previously was appointed by President Obama as one of 15 2011-2012 White House fellows.

President Obama spoke at the #StartTheSpark event, as well as guest speakers such as Sharks Mark Cuban, Barbara Corcoran and Daymond John.

These entrepreneurs were only the latest to be invited to the White House. Other South Florida entrepreneurs who have been honored there or have been invited there include Champions for Change Susan Amat of Venture Hive, Felecia Hatcher of Code Fever and Rob Davis of Code for Fort Lauderdale, as well as Juha and Johanna Mikkola of Wyncode, Jim McKelvey of LaunchCode and NFTE student Karen Bonila of John A. Ferguson Senior High and FIU, who was invited to participate in the White House Science Fair this year.

As global entrepreneurs gathered for the event at the White House, the White House said President Obama announced several steps to increase support for emerging entrepreneurs here in the United States and around the world.  First, the president made investing in women and youth entrepreneurs the top priority for his Administration’s global entrepreneurship programs.  Second, ahead of his travel to the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Nairobi this July, the president issued a call to action, challenging companies, organizations, and individuals to increase their investments in global emerging entrepreneurs.  Third, the president announced nine new Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship, enlisting even more of America’s top talent to expand the frontiers of inspiration, opportunity, and development around the world.  Finally, he recognized the creation of the Spark Global Entrepreneurship coalition, made up of leading entrepreneurship organizations who will support his call to action and better connect, coordinate, and communicate entrepreneurship efforts across the globe.

 

May 04, 2015

eMerge Americas: NFTE students pitch to win; winner learned from failure

  NFTE2

 

NFTE BizPlan Competition Winners:  (l to r) Zack Walsh, 3rd place, Kevin Diniz, 2nd place, and Jason Ramadan, 1st place, will travel to New York in October to compete against other high school students for $25,000 in funding.  They pitched their businesses May 4th at Emerge Americas on the Expo Stage.

 

The student who took the top prize in the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship's (NFTE) BizPlan Competition at the Emerge Americas conference won, in part, because he talked about how he'd failed in the past.  Jason Ramadan earned the top spot in the contest for Cliff Fall, a game for the IOS platform. Judges liked that he'd created another game before that had problems.  

  "I did feel confident this time," said Ramadan, a senior from Coral Springs Senior High, who was a first time competitor, "With my other game though, I didn't even realize all the mistakes I'd made.  It was pretty bad," said Ramadan.
  One judge, Maura O'Donnell, who works in Business Development and Finance, for MasterCard, said entrepreneurs must learn from their mistakes to improve.  She said the panel liked that Ramadan found lessons in his errors and also that he studied his biggest competitor and addressed several areas to differentiate his product from theirs for gamers - personalization, creating different skill levels for players, and offering users the choice for a user to opt out of advertising.  Ramadan received a $1500 prize from MasterCard.
  Second place went to Kevin Diniz, a senior from Piper High School, for his app idea to simplify the college scholarship research process.  Third place went to Zack Walsh of Coral Gables Senior High who pitched an idea to create an app that would offer roadside repair and rentals to cyclists stuck on the side of the road. Both students received prizes of $1000 and $750 respectively. O'Donnell said both ideas were strong but that Ramadan was further along with product development.
  All students were given eight minutes to explain and sell their business idea with another three minutes for questions.
  The three winners will compete in New York City in October in a national competition for a $25,000 in funding.
NFTE brings  entrepreneurship programs to low-income schools globally, and in South Florida throughout Miami-Dade and Broward counties.
-Karen Rundlet

February 19, 2015

The FlatIron School to offer immersive coding school at Palmer Trinity

Joining a wave of new coding-school options for South Florida high school students, Palmer Trinity School of Palmetto Bay is teaming up with The Flatiron School, a New York City school well-known for web and mobile development, to offer immersive coding courses to local high school students this summer.

Students aged 13 to 18 enrolled in The Flatiron Pre-College Academy at Palmer Trinity will learn how to build and launch web applications using tools such as HTML, CSS, JavaScript and Ruby. The curriculum is based on The Flatiron School’s rigorous Web Development Immersive, which is known for helping graduates launch careers as developers at The New York Times, MakerBot, Etsy, Kickstarter , J.Crew and other companies. The Flatiron School has been expanding its programming to other cities, including Miami.

"The goal of Flatiron Pre-College Academy at Palmer Trinity is to give students a comprehensive understanding of the technologies used to build some of the world’s most popular websites and applications, and to broaden their horizon of what’s available in this sector," said Patrick Roberts, Head of School.

There are five courses offered – beginner and advanced software engineering, beginning and advanced web design and entrepreneurship – in three full-time two-week sessions starting in June. The two-week course is $2,000, and scholarships will be available for students who are already active in the technology community or who have demonstrated financial need. For more information: https://precollege.flatironschool.com/summer-2015/miami.

Posted Feb. 19, 2015

 

January 28, 2015

Kendall brothers ages 7 and 9 launch company selling socks designed by kids

 

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SOCK KINGS: CEO Sebastian Martinez, 7, left, and his brother, Brandon, 9, sales director, have started with their mother a company, Are You Kidding, selling socks with different designs. The boys were featured on ‘Good Morning America’s Shark Tank Your Life: Kid-Preneurs Edition.’ PATRICK FARRELL MIAMI HERALD STAFF

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/business/article8423790.html#storylink=cpy

BY REBECCA SAVRANSKY

Ever since he was a baby, Sebastian Martinez loved socks. He collected socks of all kinds, with different colors, patterns and styles.

About two years ago, his mother, Rachel Martinez, asked him if he wanted to design his own.

“He was so excited he ran to the table with his pencils and paper and markers, and he sat down and started drawing,” she said.

And on Friday, Sebastian, 7, and his brother Brandon, 9, were featured on Good Morning America’s Shark Tank Your Life: Kid-Preneurs Edition, for their business designing and selling different styles of socks.

Sebastian is the CEO of Are You Kidding, Brandon is the director of sales, and their mother is the president.

The brothers, who live in Kendall, got their moment in the spotlight Friday when they got to pitch their company to Daymond John, a Shark Tank investor, and to George Stephanopoulos, co-anchor of ABC News’ Good Morning America, on national television.

Before the show, they sent in an audition video, had a phone interview and a few days later, they booked their flights to New York. At the end of the show, the two brothers each took home a special trophy for their work.

Martinez said it was a great experience and the the show helped the business to get more exposure.

“Friday was amazing,” she said, watching the video of her sons giving their pitch for Are You Kidding during the show.

 Since the business started in May 2014, they have sold their socks to many different stores and raised thousands of dollars for charity.

Sebastian is responsible for all the designs. His mother then transfers them onto a computer and they are made by a company in Guatemala. Brandon is then in charge of selling the merchandise.

“It’s kind of like a little tag team,” Martinez said.

The business made about $15,000 last year. They sell their socks to local stores, through their website and on other online sites such as Etsy.

In addition to just bringing in revenue though, the company has a “dual-mission,” Martinez said.

“We want to not only be a for-profit company,” she said, “but also teach philanthropy to kids which is very important to us.”

In October, Are You Kidding sold specially designed socks for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

“We all spent the entire month of October selling the socks everywhere,” Martinez said. “At Tamiami basketball, all the kids were wearing the socks, the coaches, the refs. Everybody had our socks on.”

The $3,000 raised from the socks was donated to the American Cancer Society for Making Strides Against Breast Cancer. Martinez said next year, they are hoping to reach their goal of donating $10,000 to the organization.

Are You Kidding is also working with a safe driving campaign called Be a Hero and Save Lives, cautioning people against texting and driving.

To teach kids about the charities, the company uses an app called VeePop, where people can scan the tags of the socks and a video will play giving information about the charity. Martinez said the team is planning to reach out to more organizations in the future to continue their charity work.

The company is also looking to expand, potentially adding T-shirts to the collection, she said.

“At the end of the day we want to create a brand,” Martinez said. “We started with socks because that’s the passion that I saw in my son and if you don’t start off with your passion, you’re never going to continue the business.”

She said running the business has been an exciting learning experience for her and her children, and she hopes to have more kids contribute in the future.

“It’s teaching kids how to start a business, run a business and grow a business. It’s not easy and it takes a lot of time and effort, but at the end of the day we do it as a family,” Martinez said. “We just want to make sure that it’s a fun brand. ... We want it to be a by kids for you collection.”

Website: http://www.areyoukidding.net/

 

Posted Jan. 28, 2015

 

 

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/business/article8423790.html#storylink=cpy

January 16, 2015

'Shark Tank' casting call draws wide range of pitches from UM alumni, students

  Buttercream

Buttercream:   Kristine Graulich (left, BBA '00) and Jose Cuellar.

Room2care

 Room2Care:   Todd Florin, (left, MD and MBA '12) and Richard Ashenoff (MBA '12)

By Richard Westlund 

Todd Florin, who earned an MD/MBA degree from the University of Miami in 2012, believes America is ready for a new concept in senior residential care.  Jordan Barrocas, who earned his MBA from UM in 2011, wants to expand his fillet mignon beef jerky business, while Justin Lichtenstaedter, a 2010 business school graduate, is ready to roll out Yapper, a location-based mobile chat service.

On Friday,  more than a dozen University of Miami alumni and student teams pitched their entrepreneurial concepts at a casting call for "Shark Tank," the critically acclaimed business-theme TV series airing on ABC and in syndication on CNBC.  

"Our school has an excellent reputation for having alumni who start successful businesses," said Susana Alvarez, director of entrepreneurship programs at the UM School of Business Administration, which hosted the casting call. "The 'Shark Tank' producers took that into consideration when selecting UM as the site of this casting call."   Two teams led by UM School of business graduates, Rodolfo Saccoman and Omar Soliman, were featured on the show in 2009.

Making their pitch on Friday were UM alumni Florin and Richard Ashenoff II, founders of rooms2care.com. "America is aging and there is a serious shortage of affordable senior care," Florin told the three "Shark Tank" evaluators, Mindy Zemrak,  casting manager, Michael Kramer, senior producer, and Shawn Aly, casting associate. "Our goal is to connect people with extra space in their homes with seniors who need some support." The team is seeking $100,000 from the show's five "Sharks" to launch and promote its innovative residential concept.

In his pitch, Lichtenstaedter asked for $200,000 to roll out his location-based messaging app Yapper, recently launched at eight universities. "This allows you to have conversations with everyone in your area in real time," he said. "It's ideal if you're going to a sporting event or a business conference or just watching 'Shark Tank' at home on a Friday night."

When Kramer asked him how Yapper will make money, Lichtenstaedter said the company's revenue model is based on geotargeted advertising, based on users' demonstrated interests, such as sports teams or happy hour lounges.

Three of the teams focused on upscale food products, including Barrocas' "Three Jerks Jerky," a company whose products are now in 75 independent grocery stores. "We are already profitable, but need funding to expand to the national chains," he said.

Alumnus Nekishia Lester hopes her sweet potato products will capture America's taste buds. "We make pies, parfaits and smoothies with this superfood, and we're looking for investment to expand our family business," she said.

For alumnus Kristine Graulich and her husband Jose Cuellar, funding from a "Shark Tank" investor would allow them to expand Buttercream Cupcakes, their seven-year-old business, whose customers include singer Celine Dion and Miami Heat star Chris Bosh. "We sell more than 150,000 cupcakes a year, but we have reached capacity," Graulich said. "We want to open a flagship store, expand our menu and keep growing our market."

After sampling a mini-cupcake, Zemrak had high praise, saying it was "the best frosting" she had ever tasted. Graulich responded with a big smile and a heartfelt plea, "Buttercream has been our baby for the past seven years," she said. "I want to be on 'Shark Tank' more than I want to breathe air."

Posted Jan. 16, 2015 

 

iTech, Shenandoah school teams advance in Verizon Innovative App Challenge

 

 

Students from Shenandoah Middle School in Miami and the iTECH Academy at Miami Springs Senior High have moved a little closer to a national award, earning “Best In Region” honors in the Verizon Innovative App Challenge.  The schools have earned $5,000 cash grants to further develop or support STEM programs.

Both schools are now in the running to be one of eight Best in Nation winners where students will win tablets and learn directly from MIT Media Lab on how to code and bring their app to life.  Best in Nation winners will also receive an additional $15,000 grant to advance STEM programs.

In its third year, the national competition developed by Verizon and the Technology Student Association encourages STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) learning, and challenges students to design mobile applications that address a need or problem in their schools or communities.

iTECH Miami Springs students developed “Quick Scholar.”  The app helps students, parents, and advisers create a personalized student profile to quickly sift through scholarships on the Web.  The app then identifies the best scholarships and grants that match that student’s unique metadata.

 The Shenandoah students developed a concept for the “My School Bus Tracker” application.  With Miami’s especially unpredictable weather and traffic, the app will help students and/or parents use their wireless phones track the location of their specific school bus and provide an accurate estimated time of arrival to the bus stop in the mornings and afternoons.

“Best In Nation” winners will earn an additional $15,000 cash grant.  Each winning team member also will receive a wireless tablet from Samsung.  In addition, MIT App Inventor Master Trainers from the Center for Mobile Learning at the MIT Media Lab will train the top teams on coding and app development.  Students also will be invited to present their app ideas in person at the National TSA Conference in Dallas, courtesy of Verizon.

Verizon and MIT also will help the winning students code their app concepts, making them ready for sharing and distribution. Apps developed during the first two years of the competition have been downloaded more than 26,000 times from the Google Play store.

Last week we featured the Shenandoah team’s video – watch it here.

This week, we feature iTech’s team video above. The iTech team is pictured below.

ITECH Students

Posted Jan., 16, 2015

 

January 07, 2015

Miami students win 'Best in State' in Verizon Innovative App Challenge

 

Students from Shenandoah Middle School in MIami (see their video above) and the iTECH Academy at Miami Springs Senior High have earned “Best In State” honors in the Verizon Innovative App Challenge, advancing toward a chance at $20,000 in grants for their schools and many other rewards. 

In its third year, the national competition developed by Verizon and the Technology Student Association encourages STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) learning, and challenges students to design mobile applications that address a need or problem in their schools or communities.

The Shenandoah students developed a concept for the “My School Bus Tracker” application.  With Miami’s especially unpredictable weather and traffic, the app will help students and/or parents use their wireless phones track the location of their specific school bus and provide an accurate estimated time of arrival to the bus stop in the mornings and afternoons.

iTECH Miami Springs students developed “Quick Scholar.”  The app helps students, parents, and advisers create a personalized student profile to quickly sift through scholarships on the Web.  The app then identifies the best scholarships and grants that match that student’s unique metadata.

“Our students here in Miami have come up with some great ideas for wireless technology,” said Mariano Legaz, Florida region president for Verizon Wireless.  “We’re proud of them, along with their families, teachers, schools and everybody who has supported their studies along the way.”

Teacher Teresita Herrera led the Shenandoah team.  “It’s enlightening for students to realize that they can think of an everyday problem and use something as simple as an app to solve it,” she said.  “Technology is a part of the daily lives of teens, and this challenge has helped them learned how to apply STEM learning to create solutions for society’s problems.”

The Shenandoah and iTECH teams now advance to the “Best In Region” stage, in which their apps will compete with those from schools throughout the South. Each “Best In Region” team will earn a $5,000 cash grant for its school to support STEM learning.

Those winners move on to the contest’s final phase in which eight “Best In Nation” winners will earn an additional $15,000 cash grant.  Each winning team member also will receive a wireless tablet from Samsung.  In addition, MIT App Inventor Master Trainers from the Center for Mobile Learning at the MIT Media Lab will train the top teams on coding and app development.  Students also will be invited to present their app ideas in person at the National TSA Conference in Dallas, courtesy of Verizon.

Verizon and MIT also will help the winning students code their app concepts, making them ready for sharing and distribution. Apps developed during the first two years of the competition have been downloaded more than 26,000 times from the Google Play store.

“This contest has exposed students to new skillsets such as learning to collaborate, negotiate and best of all problem solving,” said Justina Nixon-Saintil, director of education programs for the Verizon Foundation. “We can’t wait to see which of these creative concepts will become actual working mobile apps that can help make a difference in local communities.”

Posted Jan. 7, 2014 -- information submitted by Verizon 

 

December 31, 2014

Raise a glass as we look ahead to 2015 in South Florida tech

I don’t know about you, but I get tired of all the “stories of the year” that proliferate like cat videos around this time. But a certain amount of look-back is necessary to look ahead and this has been one interesting year in South Florida tech and entrepreneurship.

I looked back on my end of the year column for 2013 where I pointed out green shoots in the areas of mentorship, visibility, funding, the maker movement and youth education. Green shoots in all those areas are thriving and some have become healthy branches. For example, new resources for mentorship and acceleration now include, to name a few, Miami Dade College’s Idea Center, Florida Atlantic University Tech Runway, the Microsoft Innovation Center at Venture Hive and Endeavor Miami. In funding, beyond Magic Leap’s phenomenal raise, five or six new early-stage funds are now calling South Florida home and others are in the works, as efforts continue on many fronts to move a sliver of South Florida’s significant wealth into startups and early-stage companies.

So what are this year’s green shoots that could grow stronger in 2015? Let me know your thoughts – I see many, but here are a just a couple.

Corporate involvement: While the Knight Foundation kick-started and now is continuing to fuel the current South Florida tech hub movement with more than 90 investments, it’s notable that we are starting to see much more corporate involvement. A few examples: Goldman Sachs funded the well-regarded 10,000 Small Businesses program, and made a $5 million investment into the program at Miami Dade College that is about to begin its fourth cohort and open to the community. Beyond the significant check, Goldman Sachs executives take part in the curriculum and mentoring. Microsoft chose to locate its first Microsoft Innovation Center in the U.S. at Miami’s Venture Hive and has already held 50 events and workshops for the community there, including office hours for mentoring. Citi used Miami as a launching pad for its Global Citi Mobile Challenge, and in December it launched a meetup series on Fintech in Miami. Dan Sachar of Highnote Foundry is exploring the role of corporations in the startup culture at an upcoming breakfast event.

Supported by the Knight Foundation, the new LaunchCode, a St. Louis nonprofit that expanded to Miami this month, is all about corporate involvement as it matches tech talent with companies. In fact, if all corporations that hire IT workers are not involved the model doesn’t really work, says Jim McKelvey, co-founder of Square who founded the nonprofit. In a few short weeks, LaunchCode has already signed on 21 companies, said Mariana Rego, who is running LaunchCode’s Miami operation.

One region: Who could forget the Internet firestorm over Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine’s tech-hub comments that opened the year? He was talking quite literally about the role of the city of Miami Beach, but it sounded as if he was talking about the region. The mayor said he learned a lesson about communication (and also quickly got to know Rokk3r Labs ... and has become a strong supporter of the movement) but perhaps there is even a greater lesson here as the area efforts to brand itself a technology hub: We are a tri-county region with each area taking part. (And although the phrasing inevitably pops up in out-of-town media, we are not “Silicon Beach” or even worse, "the next Silicon Valley," "the Silicon Valley of the East Coast" or any other variation -- there is only one Silicon Valley). For proof that a significant amount of our early-stage action happens in and around Boca Raton, look no further than the “Startup Spotlights,” “Early Stage Companies” and “Funding” categories on Starting Gate (and the quarterly venture capital recaps).

The counties to the north are home to success stories such as Citrix and fast-growing companies like Modernizing Medicine. Events such as ITPalooza in December, with 2,000 attending at Nova Southeastern, or the Gold Coast Venture Capital Association’s Meet the Angels event in August that drew more than 500 to Boca, seem to underscore a thriving tech and entrepreneurial scene. It’s also notable that Miami mega-event eMerge Americas went out of its way to make its inaugural conference a tri-county event, and that will be evident this year also, its organizers say. We are stronger together.

These are just a few trends I am seeing, and to be sure challenges remain. Yet, on the education front, South Florida saw a mini-explosion of coding school options come onto the scene. And two very recent encounters made me feel particularly good about the future, as they point to the power of early education.

The Miami Herald runs an annual charitable project called the Wish Book. My story was about Nathan Hagood, a talented teen in all things tech at North Miami Beach Senior High who needed help with college expenses. After the story ran, FIU offered a scholarship to the teen. “After the holiday, we’ll arrange for him to come over and see what we’re doing. I certainly hope he’ll choose to come to FIU and Honors,” said Lesley Northup, dean of FIU’s Honors College who extended the offer. While Nathan is applying for scholarships at various schools in and out of South Florida, it is great to see a local university step up to try to keep home-grown talent here.

And recently I wrote about the entrepreneurial journey of the co-founders of the cyber-security firm Guarded Networks, which after a couple of sales and name changes became part of SilverSky and then most recently BAE in a $232.5 million acquisition. I focused on the story of the original CEO who stayed with the company through all the transitions. But one of the other co-founders, Brian Otte, reached out to me after the piece ran. In a nice way, he conveyed that the journey as I told it missed a key point: the power of education.

Otte moved to the U.S. when he was 8 and said he is a proud product of the Miami-Dade County Public School System. Otte, now the director and head of sales at ProfitStars, who graduated from Florida State University and Northwestern University’s Kellogg School, told me: “As I have traveled in my career, I am taken aback at the negative perception the rest of the country seems to have on our school system as a whole. Frankly, I think it prepared me not just scholastically but from a social perspective as well. I got the opportunity to grow up in a melting pot and was blessed with great teachers along the way who motivated me to excel. ... In my case, I owe my journey to them.”

Happy New Year, dear readers,  and cheers to more success stories in 2015.

Nancy Dahlberg

 Posted: Dec. 31, 2014

December 26, 2014

Awesome Foundation monthly grant goes to creative 9th grader

Sunnythebear

Awesome Foundation's Miami chapter awarded its latest monthly $1,000 grant to a 9th grader, proving you are never too young to have a good idea and launch it.

Sunny The (3D) Bear is a new children's book series authored by Ransom Everglades student Daniel Freedline. The books, in English and Spanish, are designed to be quick, bedtime stories read by parents to their children, ages 3-7. The books, which also include coloring books, can be downloaded via the website.

The website also has a large and growing gallery of 3D scans (characters and scenery from each book), allowing kids to play with these objects on their computer or tablet. The 3D files are downloadable and can be printed, allowing kids to create their own toys.

The first volume is freely downloadable at www.SunnyTheBear.com. Additional volumes are available at 99 cents each, which includes not only the PDF of the book, but a separate PDF of the coloring book version. More volumes are already planned.

The deadline to apply for one of Awesome's monthly grants is the 15th of every month. The Miami chapter launched in January 2013 and is  looking to fund awesome projects that touch everything from technology to education, art to social media, innovation and far-out creativity. Find out more here.

 Posted Dec. 26, 2014

December 09, 2014

Schools, South Florida techies participate in Hour of Code: In pictures

Middle school classes -- and some elementary classes -- across South Florida participated in Hour of Code on Tuesday, a national initiative aimed at getting kids interested in learning more about technology. Dozens of South Florida's top developers, tech execs and entrepreneurs taught the classes. Here is just a small sampling.

2014-12-09 12.38.32

 

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Mario Cruz of Choose Digital reports that about  60 students, some shown above, took part in the event over two class periods at Carol City Middle. The teacher was Kara Lungmus. All of them started coding and about 70 percent completed and got a certificate and were able to share the game the created and play on smartphone.

  Photo (30)

Susan Amat and Venture Hive hosted about 60 Palm Beach County middle school students in conjunction with the Microsoft Innovation Center that is hosted at Venture Hive. Microsoft employees taught them some basics of coding.  

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Youger kids got involved too. Kevin Levy of Gunster was at his son's 1st grade class of Ms. Alicot at Pinecrest Elementary (shown above):  "I explained what software and code is, and the kids (1st graders) were psyched to get started. They chanted 'We are going to code' all the way to the computer lab. After they got started, they dove in. Mostly boys working on the Angry Birds code and the girls on the Frozen code. They were really getting it, including thinking through the steps as the coding got progressively more difficult. Walking back to the classroom, the chanted 'We got to code'. "

Posted Dec. 9, 2014