Congrats grads!

Congrats to our recent 1st and 2nd grade graduates at Science Club for Girls! This past year, CuSTEMized partnered with Science Club for Girls to provide over 100 free personalized books to their 1st and 2nd grade classes of aspiring scientistas.

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We are so thankful to have worked with such as dedicated group of mentors (who are also female scientist role models themselves) to ensure that each book was personalized properly for each girl and to ensure that each book was delivered with care by someone they respect and admire!

Your hardcover book orders and donations made this all possible! As a token of thanks, use coupon code congratsgrads for 10% off orders of 2 books or more for the recent grads in your life!

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NEW! My Scientific Name

The CuSTEMized team is so excited to share with you all our latest personalized storybook My Scientific Name. Learn about what scientific careers the letters of your name represents with this beautiful and educational storybook. Each page is developed in collaboration with real women or minority scientists in that field. Learn more about all these different scientific careers and the women and minority scientists working in them by creating your own copy of My Scientific Name at https://CuSTEMized.org/MyScientificName

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Special thanks to everyone involved in making this possible including:

Illustrated by Jean Fan and Kimberlyn Bailey
Written by Jean Fan, Aeja Pinto, and all contributing scientists acknowledged below
Developers: Jean Fan and Kamil Slowikowski
Outreach coordinator: Sayda Zelaya

Theron Carmichael – Astronomer
Nicole Black – Bioengineer
Oana Livia Apostu – Computer Programmer
Michka Sharpe – Developmental Biologist
Ruoran Li – Epidemiologist
Jenny Gruber – Flight Dynamics Officer
Tamara Pico – Geologist
Rutendo Gambe – Hematologist
Kelly Moynihan – Immune Oncologist
Steph Guerra – Journalist
Kim Schenkeveld – Kinesiologist
Heather Mumford – Library Scientist
Jennifer Dailey – Materials Scientist
Sonia Kim – Neuroscientist
Elise Wilkes – Oceanographer
Moiya McTier – Planetary Scientist
Jing Shi – Quantum Physicist
K. Renee Horton – Rocket Scientist
Stephanie Hicks – Statistician
Gaye Angela Ohanesian – Transmission Engineer
Natasha Ginzburg – Urologist
Rebecca Davenport – Veterinarian
Jean Fan – Web Developer
Constance (Connie) Jeffrey – X-ray Crystallographer
Subhalaxmi Nambi – Yeast Biologist
Lauren Koenig – Zoologist

And many more volunteers, friends, and family for their support

Made possible through funding and support from readers like you.

Coloring with CuSTEMized – Bodies in Motion

CuSTEMized hosted another fun-filled hands-on STEM enrichment learning event, this time in collaboration with the Newton Free Library.

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We moved our bodies to feel our hearts. Then we engineered hoop gliders to move as far as possible. And we saw how light moves using polarizers. Of course, we had lots of fun coloring!

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We also heard from 3 female scientist guest speakers! We learned about our hearts from Susan Hannes of Harvard Medical School. We learned about what cells eat from Dr. Allison Lau of MIT. And we learned about 3D printing from Nicole Black of the Wyss Institute. Check out our Facebook for more photos.

Special thanks to organizers Sayda Zelaya and our wonderful collaborators at the Newton Free Library. And thanks to everyone for coming and learning!

 

Just because it isn’t broken, doesn’t mean it can’t be better

Christmas break of 2015. I was at home enjoying a little break from school. With this little free time, I decided to start learning Laravel, a PHP development framework. Why? Well, the CuSTEMized website at the time was built on PHP with a bunch of poorly organized and hacked together scripts. It worked. But I knew it could be better. In order to make it better, we needed to build on what others have already created. We needed to move towards using a framework. We needed to learn something new.

None of us knew how to use Laravel. Heck. None of us had even worked with a development framework before. In the beginning, the learning curve was pretty high. We faced moments of doubt when we had to ask ourselves: was this worth it? If things aren’t broken why fix it? What if we were to have spent all this time learning Laravel and then not even use it for the website anyway? But we knew just because it isn’t broken, doesn’t mean it can’t be better. And even if we didn’t end up using Laravel, we would still have learned something. So those reasons were good enough to keep pushing forward.

Now, almost a year later, our volunteer development team is proud to finally present the next version of the CuSTEMized website built on Laravel.

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It’s fun to look back and reflect on how much we didn’t know before. We moved to and set up a new server. We had to learn about security. We had to establish launch protocols. We didn’t know how to do any of this. But  we needed to figure it out and so we did.

I’m so proud of us.

Sincerely,
Jean

 

The Little Book of Big Dreams wins prestigious gold medal at the Moonbeam children’s book award

We are so excited that our Little Book of Big Dreams won the prestigious MOONBEAM SPIRIT AWARDS gold medal in the category of EXPLORATION. As the organizers state, “Creating books that inspire our children to read, to learn, and to dream is an extremely important task, and these awards were conceived to reward those efforts. Each year’s entries are judged by expert panels of youth educators, librarians, booksellers, and book reviewers of all ages.” We are honored to be a part of the competition and congrats to all the other winners!

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Failure is always an option. Quitting is not.

First and foremost, I want to thank everyone for their tremendous support on our recent Kickstarter campaign! We grew a lot as a team in putting together this campaign, met many wonderful scientists along the way, and even had a few articles written about us (wow!).

But unfortunately, because we have failed to reach our $10,000 goal, My Colorful Future will not be funded. As with failed Kickstarter campaigns, no backers will be charged for their pledges and we will not be fulfilling any pledge prizes.

As scientists, we are familiar with failure. Experiments fail. Grants get triaged. Papers get rejected. We understand that failure is always an option. But quitting is not! When faced with failure, we adjust parameters, we rewrite and reorganize, we improve, and we find alternate ways to succeed. What we lack in funding, we will make up for in brain power.

Moving forward

I still believe that it’s so important for kids, in particular girls and minorities, to have visible and relatable role models. At http://custemized.org/, we encourage kids to (literally!) see themselves in STEM by providing personalized storybooks that depict them in different STEM careers. But we also want kids to see that there really are people just like them currently in these STEM fields! Therefore, we are still working with current women and minority scientists in the field to teach kids about a wide range of scientific careers!

Moiya McTier is a planetary scientist working with us to teach kids about planetary science. Do you know what a planetary scientist does? Check out her page to find out!

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If you are or know of a scientist interested in being featured, please contact jean@custemized.org for more information on how you can get involved. Follow cuSTEMized on Facebook to learn more about different scientific careers and for updates on when these pages will be available for personalization to feature your child.

Helping teachers help their class

Teachers strive to inspire and empower students with the confidence and skills to change the world. I recently had the pleasure of helping one amazing teacher, Melody Tsai, to do just that.

Melody initial contacted us, saying: I initially wanted to give these books to the 10 girls in my class for an end of the year gift before going to Kindergarten. Then, I wondered what could the 5 boys in my class get. Thankfully there is a drop down menu for the boys as well! I am ecstatic! Because I am a teacher, I do have difficulty printing in colored ink as I am in a low income level school in the middle of the desert where resources to get mass colored printing can be hours away.”

…well, we can fix that! I was more than happy to print these books and ship them out to her. Melody took the time to work with us to personalize books for her entire class!

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Each book was actually made by yours truly 😉

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We didn’t have a box big enough to accommodate all the books so we had to use an old Amazon box!

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The books arrived safety and we were glad to hear that her students liked their personalized books!

One of the main goals that I strive for as a teacher is to inspire, empower, and to teach in a progressive way in hopes that students become positive, active members of society. CuSTEMized.org could not be a more perfect end of the year gift, as a keepsake, and a reminder that every one of my students has the power to change the world. Parents say they will keep it forever, the principal loves it, my co-workers thought it was such a great idea, my BTSA advisor loved it so much she passed the website along to other teachers, and of course the students loved seeing themselves featured as the main character of the story. I look forward to donating and receiving these spiral bound books every year!

– Melody Tsai
Transitional Kindergarten Teacher

We have always been providing free individual books upon request to those who cannot afford it. But Melody has inspired us to expand our Book Fund program to classrooms as well.

Let us know if you’re interested in a set of personalized books for your classroom!

Inform and Inspire

The CuSTEMized team has been working hard on a Kickstarter campaign for a new book and app. Please check it out! https://kck.st/1WB2bcN

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We continue to encourage kids in science by depicting them in cutting-edge science careers with our personalized storybooks. But we also want kids to learn how science can be used to solve real-world problems and show them some of the amazing women and minority scientists doing that science!

Together, we can change the face of science and inspire the next generation of scientists 🙂

Thank you for your support!

Do what you can until you can do better

I was having dinner with my friend Dan the other day, who mentioned what a big success cuSTEMized has been, as if we were some group of high-tech Silicon-valley CEOs working in those modern open space floor-plans. But I had to break it to him: we’re still just operating out of my apartment (at least it’s not my parent’s garage!). For our hardcover and softcover books, we partner with a professional manufacturer, but to keep spiral-bound books affordable, we still make them in-house…here:

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Each spiral-bound book is made by hand (by yours truly) with donated time and labor. Kamil took a picture of me after I came back from a weekend off to do a TEDxJHU talk and made a dozen books in one sitting (eesh I look tired!).

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It’s so important to offer affordable products. But until we reach the scale and volume where we can get the prices of each book down to where parents, particularly low-income graduate students such as myself, can afford to buy this non-essential item for their kids, we will just have to donate our time and labor to meet them half way.

That goes for our whole team of amazing volunteers! We’ll just have to do what we can until we can do better.

Best,
Jean

 

Science Club for Girls Graduation!

Thanks to your donations, cuSTEMized was able to collaborate with Science Club for Girls to bring free personalized books to the 1st grade class at the Amigo’s school! Congrats to the 1st grade class on another year well done! Hope they enjoy their cuSTEMized books and keep doing science! Check out more photos on our Facebook page!

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Thanks to the wonderful Science Club scientist mentors for collaborating with us and collecting the students’ information so we can personalize books for them! Special thanks to admins Terina-Jasmine Alladin and Lydia Peabody for helping coordinate and organize!

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And of course, thanks to all of you for your continuous support! Your donations and books orders support our Free Book Fund and outreach events. There are also lots of free ways to support cuSTEMized and our mission so please check them out!

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