Programs

Our programs are not about changing or domesticating your uniqueness, in fact we like you just the way you are. MindSpark supports the creative process by adding new experiences and sources of inspiration to a participant’s mind-bank and we enrich individuals by stretching the boundary of their awareness and knowledge through guided self-discovery programs.

In 2015 we are further developing the programs we have found to be most successful in introducing young minds to be investigative, think logically, and play thoughtfully.  We will introduce our new activity kits and workbooks in the fall, and there will be plenty of information coming soon!

In the meantime, we want to let you know about what we’ve been up to the last few years.  Since the fall of 2012, we have run 38 programs of varying lengths, in 5 schools, 3 libraries, and with 2 nonprofits.  Through all this hard work, we have been able to reach near 700 youth ranging in age from kindergarteners through 8th graders.

Below are the descriptions of our courses.  We are currently offering limited new programs to potential partners, but mostly focusing efforts on our new program development.

 

A MindSpark Experience:  Are you an inventor, artist, tinkerer or maker?  Do you want to build robots, become a fashion designer, or make mechanical art?  Do you want to create the next best thing that will also put money in your pocket?  In this workshop we will explore, experiment, and stretch your imaginations, in order to spark creativity in your daily lives and for your business ideas.  This workshop will prepare you for the first steps in the design process and innovative tools will encourage risk taking on your next entrepreneurial venture.

 

Conductive Crafting:  Arts and crafts meet LEDs.  Kids will learn about conductive materials, and make electronic paper toys.  

 

DIY Tinkertoys:  Students build structures using cardboard tubes to provide a foundational philosophy for design, shaping their views of nature, pattern, and unity.

 

Electronic Headbands and Bracelets:  Students will be able to understand a parallel circuit to create electronic headbands or bracelets by incorporating electronic components or soft circuits. Designs will incorporate 1 LED in the design and create an accessory that will be functional yet stylish.

 

Electronic Textiles – 2 one-hour workshops for middle school:  Join MindSpark and explore the magical world of electronic textiles, an inventive method of blending electronics and technology with soft materials.  In this workshop you will learn a little about sewing, a lot about creating a circuit, make a light up project and take it home!

 

Electronic Textiles:  Conductive thread has the ability to conduct electricity, just like metal wires. SO, you can sew an electrical circuit into anything soft! But before we get started, it’s helpful to know a bit about electronics. This will help you to create projects that are beautiful, cool, fun, and functional.  We will incorporate soft circuits and experiment with wearable computing.  Soft circuits, also known as electronic textiles (e-textiles), are electrical circuits created using flexible conductive materials (such as conductive threads and fabrics) together with electronics components (such as lights, batteries, switches, and sensors)

 

Lego WeDo Construction Tinkering – The LEGO® Education WeDo Construction Set introduces young students to robotics. Students will build LEGO models featuring working motors and sensors; program their models; and develop their skills in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics as well as language, literacy, and social studies.  This program will work with all levels, but challenge more advanced students to experiment with the models and create unique programs.  Students will work in pairs, taking turns building the models and programming on the computer.

 

MaKey MaKey:  MaKey MaKey is an invention kit for the 21st century.  You can turn everyday objects into touchpads and combine them with the Internet.

 

Marble Runs:  Marble runs help to develop independent and imaginative play, physics concepts, fine motor skills, hand eye coordination, special reasoning, cause and effect, and planning and strategy.

 

MindSpark Rube Goldberg Projects:  Rube Goldberg was a famous cartoonist, sculptor, and actor.  In college he majored in engineering and later went on to create crazy cartoon inventions – all designed to accomplish a simple task, through a complex series of chain reactions.  In this class, you’ll make your own Rube Goldberg machine, using natural forces, and simple machines, to make things both more complicated, and much easier.

 

Misfit Toys:  A toy hacking workshop where we encourage playful deconstruction of all sorts of toys. Take apart old toys and reassemble them into new creations! Use screwdrivers, seam rippers and scissors to remove your toy’s insides. Check out the mechanisms, lights, and wires you find inside. Then use various tools to put them together again.

 

Open Tinkering:  Tinkering, focused activity with the right materials in the right environment, can lead to great new inventions.  Students become engaged in an open-ended experiment, and make something that represents their ideas. Tinkering is all about making discoveries and using those discoveries in creative ways.

 

Pop Up Cards:  Paper Engineering has a magical ability to engage with children’s imaginations and learning.  Students learn about applied forces as they create pop-up-cards — the art of paper engineering. They also learn the basic steps of the engineering design process.

 

Scribbling Machines:  Scribbling Machines are made from an offset motor and materials that are easy to access and use.  The motor creates an irregular motion and pattern, leaving fun and dynamic marks on paper.

 

Squishy Circuits:  Squishy Circuits are the brainchild of AnnMarie Thomas, a professor at the University of St. Thomas and director of the UST Design Lab.  Using conductive and insulating doughs, you can teach kids of all ages the fundamentals of electronics and circuits.  

 

Tinkering with MindSpark – Grades 3-5:  In this class students will become a tinkerer, inventor, creator, maker, dreamer, scientist, or engineer.  Build things, make things, and take things apart.  Tinker with circuits, electronics and robotics.  Try out our LEGO WeDo Construction kit.  Use conductive tape to make electronic paper toys, reverse engineer misfit toys, and explore the world of marble runs. 

 

Tinkering with MindSpark – Grades K-1:  Tinkering, focused activity with the right materials in the right environment, can lead to great new inventions.  Students become engaged in an open-ended experiment, and make something that represents their ideas. Tinkering is all about making discoveries and using those discoveries in creative ways.  This program is best for high energy students, focused mostly on group activities, with some individual projects.  Examples of activities include: scribbling machines, MaKey MaKey (turns everyday objects into touchpads), conductive tape, and marble machines.

 

Tinkering with MindSpark – Grades K-2:  In this class students will become a tinkerer, inventor, creator, maker, dreamer, scientist, or engineer.  This program is best for high energy students, focused mostly on group activities, with some individual projects.  Design your way off a deserted island, explore circuits and motors, take apart toys and make marble machines.

 

Tinkering with Tools:  Tinkering with Tools encourages students to think critically and creatively about the world around them. Through various projects, such as designing cars out of recycled materials or building circuits using playdough, this course challenges students to interact with materials in a non-traditional manner. Using materials in this way may seem strange, but it creates the opportunity to see some truly wonderful ideas come to life.  This course is primarily centered on group-work, but students will have a few opportunities to work by themselves, if they so desire. We encourage group-work, because it allows for several different minds to work together on designing and creating projects. Sharing ideas with peers is beneficial because it encourages students to think about the benefits of different designs. Beyond that, group work is beneficial because it provides students with the chance to practice communication skills.  Tinkering with Tools crosses over several academic fields, including: science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics. This cross-discipline approach allows us to learn how concepts are applied in everyday life. With an understanding of these concepts, students are able to perfect designs, as well as have an understanding of why certain designs don’t work. In Tinkering with Tools, we hope to foster creative potential in every student so they can continue tinkering long after the class ends.

 

Valentines Themed:  Make a special soft Valentines robot with real circuits and LEDs.  Say “I ♥ you” with an awesome gift you will make and take home in this workshop.  Explore the magical world of electronic textiles, an inventive method of blending electronics and technology with soft materials.  

 

Our Story

MindSpark was founded in 2004, by Johnny Klein, to engage thought leaders with concept of exploration, expanding thought and to be a source of inspiration for business professionals.  Colorado Creative was founded in 2011, by Maia Stone, with a focus on STEM and youth.  While MindSpark was searching for new leadership for a new phase, Colorado Creative was rebranding, and the two merged in 2013 with the new mission of providing curious people with tools to explore their potential.  The ideas, mindset and outcomes of our different audiences were aligned regardless of both age and acumen.  As a result of this merger, MindSpark is now run by Maia Stone, who brings a unique combination of creative spirit and technical expertise to the position. MindSpark provides guidance for youth in order to prepare them with essential skills for high achievement in today’s economy. The organization uses creative exploration to encourage interest in STEM fields. MindSpark creates an environment for learning that enables youth aged 5-18 years to practice different methods of hands-on learning, emphasizing creativity, innovation, critical thinking, problem solving, communication, and collaboration.  Our programs develop information, communication, and technological literacy.

 

Team

Staff

Maia Stone

Executive Director, Board Member, MBA, MT, CPA

MindSpark-StoneAfter receiving a Bachelor in Fine Arts, Maia worked for 10 years in hospitality, for companies such as Marriott, Hyatt, and Disney.  Maia obtained an MBA in Real Estate and a Master of Taxation from the University of Denver, and went on to become a CPA.  She has experience in Big 4 public accounting, corporate tax, and running a small bookkeeping and tax firm.  Maia has been active in other organizations around Denver, such as Social Venture Partners, Colorado Creative Industries, Roots and Branches, Northeast Denver Children’s Collaborative, and the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network.  Maia and her husband have a wonderful baby girl, and in her free time, Maia enjoys family time with the two dogs, travel, yoga, knitting, sewing, and photography.

Email:  maia.stone@mindspark.org

Phone: (303) 909-5353

Jailyn Volok

Program Director, JD

MindSpark-Volok

Originally from the East Coast, Jailyn moved to Denver in 2010. A graduate of the University of Denver, Sturm College of Law, Jailyn was admitted to practice in the State of Colorado in 2013. Before joining MindSpark, Jailyn served as a policy adviser to Colorado State Senator Mike Johnston, a national leader in education reform. Working closely with Senator Johnston, she researched proposed legislation that moved through the Senate Finance Committee.  After graduation, she continued with Senator Johnston’s office to advise on the Urban Leaders Summer Fellowship, a program aimed at bringing the best and brightest to Denver to work on high-level policy projects alongside Senator Johnston and partner organizations in Denver.  She has her B.S. in Business Administration from Montclair State University where she graduated with honors. With a 22-month old at home that keeps her busy and another one on the way, Jailyn also loves to cook, travel, read and looks forward to contributing to MindSpark’s continued success.

Email:  jailyn.volok@mindspark.org

 

Educators

Amy Berlin attended the University of Colorado at Boulder and Metropolitan State College of Denver, where she received Bachelor degrees in Studio Art Photography and Art Education, respectively, and has experience using a wide variety of classic and alternative media for the creation of art. She has facilitated open-studio art classes for young children, taught art to all public school age students, and is most recently expanding her instruction to guide adults through the creation of useful art objects. Encouraging her students to explore and experiment to find their personal methods and inspiration has always been the foundation for her teaching. In her spare time, Amy likes to paint, read, and attempt to quilt.  She enjoys practicing yoga, going to farmer’s markets and taking walks with her husband, son, and rambunctious puppy. 

Daniel Gwirtsman is a teaching assistant who is interested in fostering a creative experience through learning.  Daniel received a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology/Anthropology at Lewis & Clark College, and hopes to obtain an MBA in Teaching.  In his free time, Daniel enjoys reading, playing music, hiking, and snowboarding.

Ally Seeley graduated from the University of Denver in 2011 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Electronic Media Arts and Design.  While in school she developed her skills in the electronic textiles field (otherwise known as e-textiles).  Since graduating she has attended Maker Faire San Mateo and New York City, spearheading an e-textile community space for attendees to take workshops and makers to showcase their e-textile works. Ally has taught e-textile workshops/classes at the Denver Art Museum, Denver Green School, Kepner Middle School and University Park Elementary School.  When not teaching, Ally works for Something Independent to help continue their mission in providing leadership at the intersection of lifestyle and commerce.

For more visit her professional website.

 

Board of Directors

Johnny Klein, Board Chair

MindSpark-Klein

Johnny is Founder and President of Embassy Concepts, a group building urban and rural hospitality projects that get people talking. Prior to Embassy, Johnny was employed across Asia, Europe, and the Americas, applying his enthusiastic style and leadership to the likes of IBM, AT&T and Qwest Communications.

 

 

 

Gisela Flanigan

MindSpark-Flanigan

Dr. Gisela Flanigan is a consultant with more than a decade of experience in advocating for the arts at the local, state and national level.  Her wealth of knowledge and experience includes national and international affiliations, consultancies, site visits and panel participation with various arts organizations. Flanigan has given lecture-recital presentations for the College Music Society regional, national and international conferences, as well as presentations for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s Educational Department. She has performed internationally in Europe and the Americas, most notably with the Orquesta Sinfonica Simon Bolivar, at festivals in France, Italy and, in Venezuela at the request of the El Sistema program. She earned B.M. and M.M. degrees in Piano Performance from the University of Miami and a D.M.A. from the University of North Texas.  She served as faculty at Drake University, Grinnell College, Bowling Green State University, Heidelberg University and the Barry Tuckwell Institute. Her current civic and professional affiliations include local, state, and national institutions: member and former Chair of the Grand Junction Commission on Arts and Culture, Board of Directors of the Crested Butte Music Festival, Denver-based non-profit MindSparkWestern Colorado Writers Forum advisory board, and CMS committees – Careers Outside the Academy and Cultural Inclusion. Her expertise is also in demand as a grant reviewer, conference planner and facilitator for Colorado Creative Industries. She was selected as one of 12 creative artists statewide to be a founding member of its new Change Leaders Institute.

 

Jay Nakashima

MindSpark-Nakashima

Jay has invested over twenty years in healthcare I.T. helping physicians, nurses, geneticists, and even blood bankers better treat patients using technology. Jay has an MBA and multiple technology certifications. Married to a DPS teacher, their two children attend the Denver Language School, a public language immersion charter school.  Jay was one of the original professionals that participated in MindSpark’s adult excursions program in 2004.

 

 

Todd Vitale

MindSpark-Vitale

Vitale started his own public affairs consultancy in 2003, and since that time he and his firm have served more than 100 corporate, non-profit, and political clients in industry areas including technology, natural resources, science, transportation, real-estate, education, and labor law. Vitale offers his clients more than 20 years of experience in the disciplines of public opinion research, public policy research, stakeholder communications, public finance, campaign strategy, grassroots development, community outreach and public affairs technology.  In addition to serving on the Board of Mindspark, Vitale is a little league baseball coach for his 3 boys (6, 9, 11 years old) and a volunteer at their schools. Vitale has also been throughout his career a frequent panelist at public policy forums, conferences, and a guest on public affairs television shows.  Vitale was also chosen as one of Metro Denver’s top young leaders, as part of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Denver program. And, Vitale was recognized by The Colorado Statesman, as one of the “Fifty for the Future.”   Vitale got his start in public affairs serving as a Legislative Assistant to a U.S. Congressman. Vitale earned his B.A. in International Business from Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

Idea Channel

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