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2014 Highlights for Grow a Generation

From 2 Kitty Whisperers speaking at a law conference to students serving aboard the Orion Spacecraft as virtual crew members, it was an eventful year for Grow a Generation. Here’s a selection of 2014’s highlights



5th grade author and animal advocate Veronica was nominated by the ASPCA for the Humane Kid of the Year award recognized for her collaboration in the writing of Hamster Fun Facts and this year’s Cruelty Free Beauty 101 workshops. Gavin, another 5th grade author, had a successful book signing at the National Aviary, and is hard at work on his next children’s book, The Little Blue Penguins of North Sydney Harbor with some incredible collaborators, the scientist actually working in Australia to help these unusual little birds.


YouTube celebrities, 5th grade Miriam and Jadyn, who call themselves the Kitty Whisperers premiered their documentary of the Colony Cats of Washington County at the Companion Animals and the Law Conference at the Duquesne Law School on November 8. Eli, another 5th grader, had his documentary film selected to be featured in Sam Gliksman’s upcoming book on iPads in the classroom.


The summer was spent with an extraordinary young intern, StormC, who helped create and record the Scratch Animator Black Belt Series.  Students who complete the whole series don’t simply learn to code and learn some rudimentary concepts of photography, image manipulation, and animation, but they also create a meaning addition to historical archives for a local museum or society.


Work began with Bea, another intern, who will return next summer to complete work on our upcoming Weebly/Wordpress course to help kids create a web presence of meaningful projects.


I was thrilled to see the number of at home GrowaGen Labs increase to 18


And humbled that Baden Academy contracted Grow a Generation to continue their research fellows program and add some interested technology and coding opportunities for all their students.


Another highpoint included blasting off into space, fine, virtually blasting off into space with virtual crew members from both Baden Academy and Grow a Generation’s Nasa Design Challenge Teams.  We each felt like part of the Orion Space Launch mission as our names joined 1.3 million others etched into a 8 mm-square silicon wafer microchip placed onboard.  I was thrilled to take part in another small, yet historic, step in humanity’s journey to Mars.


Sam, a summer GrowaGen research fellow made phenomenally quick progress with the MIT App Inventor Software. He inspired me to try the software in with some of the elementary aged Research Fellows this fall.  The Mobile App Developers, a team of five 3rd to 5th graders, have zipped through tutorials and have started to storyboard apps for development.


Catapults and motors, find your passion scavenger hunts, and an exceptional Grow a Generation Engineering Saturday about heart valves filled our weekends and fueled our imaginations. A special thanks to Jacob, the 8th grader who shared his personal experiences with echo cardiograms as well as a fascinating interview he held with Dr. Zapanta at the CMU’s biomedical engineering lab.


Thank you again to TechShop for the wonderful donation of the Make Souldering Set for our Tesla Day competition. They helped the Grow a Generation Scratch contests and competitions grow.  The Rhythm Wheel competition has some great new entries.  1st grade Gianna recorded her winter recital piece, Star Wars, and programmed fantastic tie fighter animations to accompany her talent.


Finally,  I am thrilled to announce we are ready to grow.  Encourage adventurous Project Based STEM educators to apply today to join the Grow a Generation team!

Thank you for making the year wonderful.  Let me know how I can help you inspire the young people in your life to work hard on a meaningful project! 

~ Ellen

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