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Empowering the Next Generation of Women Scientists

 There are numerous groups and organizations that are dedicated to getting more girls interested in math and technology during early education in order to encourage and support them in pursuing careers in engineering and science. Programs like TechBridge and STEMconnector are offering girls the opportunity to get hands on experience with quality equipment and projects within STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). It is crucial to interest students at a young age and show them anything is obtainable if you fearlessly pursue your goals. 

The TechBridge after-school program and STEMconnector are teaming up with companies like Chevron and The Fab Foundation to encourage girls in middle school and high school to pursue interests in the fields of math and science. They offer many mediums for the students in the program to explore technical trades as well as careers in math and science. They also provide hands on experiments and teach the students how to construct things from hair dryers to biomass-burning stoves. Fabrication labs, known as “fab labs," feature 3-D printers and soldering irons that provide the students with hands on experience, specially designed to appeal to the students' imaginations and interests. This program shows girls of all ages that they can pursue any career and hobby that they choose and that their gender should not inhibit their potential or guide their interests.

Encouraging more women to pursue science, technology, engineering, and math can open many new career opportunities. The founder of TechBridge, Linda Kikelis said it best, “A kid shouldn’t be limited by where they are born or what gender they are.” Every girl should be able to dream about what she wants to be and have the resources available to make her way toward fulfilling those dreams. 

Posted by: Partrick N.

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Portraits Around the World

Artist Tobias Gutmann has created his own portable portrait booth, in an effort to bring more abstract art around the world. Gutmann calls his creation the "Face-o-mat," where customers sit in front of the small window on the portrait booth and let the magic come to life. 

While seated in front of the small window, Gutmann sits on the other side and observes the face that he sees. He then takes into account if the portrait is going to be black and white or color, natural or facelift, classical or avant-garde. Gutmann then illustrates their faces in under three minutes! Abstraction styles of painting and drawing do not always have to take much time anyways; especially with the techniques that Gutmann is practicing.

What is truly amazing about these abstract portraits is Gutmann’s ability to break down someone’s face into the most basic elements and lines, and it still somehow embodies the portrait of that person. In his photos of his customers holding their completed portraits next to their smiling faces, there’s just a little something present in each abstract that makes it easy to break down and interpret it as the face of the happy portrait owner. The simplicity and exquisite accuracy of these portraits must be what has made them so popular all around the world.

Yes, all around the world! Tobias Gutmann hauled his Face-o-mat some 25,000 miles for the last few months, stopping in different cities to complete portraits in each! He has been to Stockholm, Milan, Dar es Salaam, Tokyo, and London; he’s even gone far enough as to repaint the façade of his Face-o-mat at each new location with the correct language for the city that he’s stationed in. There have been a lot of artists that have traveled in the past for the sake of finding new subjects and scenery, or because they weren’t making money and needed to find work. However, Gutmann’s travel appears to have been more of a personal challenge. He has documented his travels with Face-o-mat on his Facebook and Tumblr (on Think Faest).

It is refreshing to read about artists pursuing their fashion in an eclectic and adventurous manner; Tobias Guttman has given hope to a lot of the artists around the world who are struggling with finding ways to make their art unique, successful, and enjoyable.




--Jessalyn K.

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Medieval Doodles Found in Unexpected Places

Whoever thought that doodling was just a modern day class distraction probably hasn’t seen these doodles yet! Book historian Erik Kwakkel discovered small sketches and doodles made by scribes in books that dates back almost 800 years ago. 

Kwakkel is a medieval book historian who was interested in the “pen trials” found on the sides of the pages because it leads us to ask questions about the situation—which Kwakkel believes to be a way for the scribes to show a part of themselves in a different way. The scribes who made copies of books would sometimes make marks on the sides of pages just to test their pens while copying, or would sometimes become bored and therefore draw little doodles. The sketches are similar to “fingerprints” or clues given to us about some of the interests that these scribes had.

The sketches are related to universal topics such as love, morals, and religion, but what possibly drives these scribes to draw these sketches may be true boredom, or simply the love of art. Kwakkel was also interested by the additions of sketches and drawings made long after the book was copied; this means that even readers would take their pen to the margins. The drawings could almost be comic relief, or just a break from the monotony of textbook readings or lectures. Though it is important to pay attention in school, we can see that it has always been a struggle to maintain focus for long periods of time, as the creativity and expression of self must flow at some point!

Kwakkel has taken many photos of the medieval books he has found with special pen trials in them and placed a good deal of these on his Twitter account, Tumblr, and his recently established blog called Medievalbooks

--Jessalyn Kieta



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Low-Budget Library in South Africa Turns into a Success

The hardship of funding building companies to create educational facilities in third world countries has had a breakthrough—with the new SEED library built in South Africa. The building of this library ran out of funding before they completed the structure, so the Johannesburg-based Architects of Justice turned to recycled materials that would still function as a high quality space for learning while also being interactive. 

The Architects of Justice used large shipping containers from trucks that were placed perpendicular to each other to create a larger internal area. There is an upper container that has study rooms and an open deck for reading, creating a brightly colored environment for children to study and learn in.

This incredible feat will bring joy and education to many children in South Africa, and hopefully there can be a continuation of these types of buildings that are built on a low budget. The use of recycled materials for a building is genius; perhaps architects will learn to stretch their money provided so that they can build more with what they have been given. Even the architects commented that this building could serve as a prototype for other buildings that are running on a low budget or have similar design requirements.

What is most interesting about the SEED Library is how colorful and interactive it seems to be than most buildings; this library really embodies the idea of providing a structure that is made for the children specifically. Nowadays, the modern chic look is what most architects are striving for, but maybe more educational buildings should be built on a friendlier level to make children feel more at home. The ingenuity of the shipping containers and the colorful walls in the SEED Library encourage imagination and creativity, something that should be kept alive in the minds of children.

The SEED library was recognized with many awards, including the Gauteng Institute for Architects Merit Award, and a silver at the Loeries, as well as being shortlisted for the Corobrick South African Institute of Architects Awards of Merit and Excellence.

To view more photos of the SEED library, follow this link:



--Jessalyn Kieta

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The Wondrous Tree Library - "Livre échange"

Didier Muller, a French designer for the collective House Work has innovated the art of going to the library. He has installed perspex huts that hang from trees in the square of Saint-Étienne, where people can donate and borrow books from this hanging library. 

Muller's idea in attracting people to read and share books in this fun and innovative way is truly an ingenious work of art. Since the concept of going to a library may bore some people, especially those of the younger generation, Muller's suspended library introduces a fresh new concept to get people interested in book-sharing and reading paperback books again.


Posted by: Partrick N.

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Reading Up on Shakespeare

High school is riddled with Shakespeare writings and readings, as are most educations in the United States. But this Shakespearean reading is not the easiest to interpret as a high-schooler. It may be hard to interpret this writing, but its important to learn the values that Shakespeare has to offer, and different ways in which we might go about reading them.

As a high-schooler, you will come across many different reading levels; some people have meditated on Shakespeare as if it was their Bible. Others have grown up with parents that have educated them in the world of English and theater, helping students to better understand Shakespeare’s word choice. And finally, there are those who may have personal epiphanies while reading through Shakespeare that change the way that one views the world around them. Epiphanies can motivate someone to continue reading Shakespeare’s works in search of deeper meanings.

The impact of Shakespeare is his ability to reach such a grand span of audience, from those who were completely absolved by his writing and ate up every word, to those who were illiterate. His plays were watched, his poetry was listened to, and the acting was enjoyed. Shakespeare welcomed all people to enter a collective dream of beliefs about a new world. The imagination and fiction within Shakespeare was fruitful in itself for the encouragement of looking outside of the world directly in front of us.

The reason that so many people were denied the right to read in the past is because of new conflicting ideas that could be formed and the new realities that were presented. However, these new creativities have lead to bigger and better ideas and advanced our world to where we are today.


Based on the article by Frank Breslin for the Huffington Post. 


--Jessalyn Kieta

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"Graffiti Grannies"

Street art has been making a tough entrance into the art world, from being called garbage, dirty, unartistic, or strange; however, your grandmother is here to tell you that you’re wrong! The new breakthrough of street art is reaching a vast group of senior citizens in Lisbon, Portugal, who have began interactive clubs promoting and practicing their graffiti skills.

The club is called LATA65, meaning “can”, and the age of the participants in the group. Though the average age is 74 years old, some of their members are also 92 years old. The group promotes hands-on practice of public art for senior citizens by providing them with the paint, stencils or stencil-creating materials, gloves, and facemasks. Before they take out on their journey, the senior citizens learn about the history of street art that grew in Europe, and then learn how to use their tools. They also learn about tagging and stenciling. 

LATA65 is breaking barriers of young and old by connecting them through hands-on art. Not only is this art a great therapeutic advantage for senior citizens, but it also gives them opportunities to remain active and connected with younger generations in the community. LATA65 also hopes to prove that the stereotypes that come with street art can be broken, allowing the artwork to be more appreciated.

As street art is becoming more accepted, it is being seen more often throughout cities and encouraged by stencilers who make more cut out, refined designs throughout the cement jungle of many cities. Street art has served has a great way for people within the city to express their communities, their emotions, and their way of life. Now, these great motives of expression are being opened up to an older community who possibly would not have had this opportunity otherwise.


--Jessalyn Kieta

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The Astonishing Tower of 15,000 Abraham Lincoln Books

Currently on display at the Ford's Theatre Center for Education and Leadership in Washington, DC, this unbelievable 34-foot tower of books is stacked with 15,000 titles written about the United State's 16th president, Abraham Lincoln. Made from fireproof bent aluminum with books glued individually by hand, this staggering tower includes histories and biographies about Lincoln, as well as books on his speeches and quotations.


Posted by: Nina A.

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