Meet Our Alumni
Class of 2017
Niki, Bailee, Erika, Dayanara, Braelynn, Fatima, Alejandra, Rabiya
Class of 2018
Izzy, Hannah, Elizabeth, Isabel, Isabella, Chloe, Emma, Noelle
Class of 2019
Giselle, Monique, Lorena, Karen , Allison, Layla, Aliyah, Davina, Kaylee
We love tech and sharing it with others
I am Iris. I am a teacher at Inventor’s University. I teach computer hardware. I go to Foothill Middle School, and I am in eighth grade. Inventors University helped me learn to code, and now I know how to use Python. I learned a lot from my dad, and I hope my students will learn a lot from me.
I'm Sandy. Hagridore (part Hagrid, part Dumbledore). The two things I love more than anything else is my family and tech and Inventors University has been my way of combining the two. But when talking to my girls about ways to make the world a better place, we realized we couldn't limit IU to family. And that's why we are sharing our idea with the world.
I'm Cherise. and as mom and as a former engineer, I love that Iris and Robyn are teaching coding and mentoring girls to become future teachers as well. My favorite part is when students proudly share their own creations, or when their eyes light up in "aha" moments. My role with Inventors University is the connector - to teachers, schools, librarians, parents and students.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What Do We Do And Why?
What is Inventors University?
When I first taught Iris how to program an Arduino back in the 2nd grade, she anointed our sessions as "Inventors University". Inspired by her incessant reading of Harry Potter, she imagined our sessions as classes at Hogwarts and me as Dumbledore. She even wore her Gryffindor robe to some of our programming sessions. It became our special thing and a new way to bond while she could learn and I didn’t feel like I was pushing technology on her.
When is Inventors University?
We'll plan to start with a 10-week program on Saturday mornings that goes from January to March and hopefully follow that up with a Summer Camp. The girls have done a great job describing the classes, badges, and our aspirations for a "Summer Camp".
Why are the kids teaching the classes? Shouldn't the adults do it?
Development doesn't have to be a lonely. It doesn't have to be an adult sage on the stage, lecturing while a bunch people take notes and follow some strict set of steps that involve no creativity. Instead, it can be peers teaching other peers, encouraging creativity and going on your own. The greatest thing about a computer is that it is an amorphous tool that can be anything you want it to be. It can be a book, a fountain of information, an art canvas, or the ultimate Swiss Army Knife. You just have to know how to use it. Robyn’s “Birdminton” game should be more inspiring to a kid than Steve Jobs’ iPhone because a kid sees something that was achievable by someone just like her. Before any kid builds the iPhone, they need to build their Birdminton. That’s the power of peer learning.
Are you really giving every girl a computer? Why?
My life changed when my dad got me a computer. We didn't have a lot of money and it stretched our budget in ways that he would have preferred to avoid, but he knew he needed to feed my desire. My life and my livelihood can be traced to my family's sufficient funds and the willingness of my father to prioritize that computer over the vacations we didn't take and the cars we never bought. Many kids don't have that luxury. But it's 2016. A pocket-size fully functional Linux computer costs $35, $70 with all the extras (cords, keyboard/mice, etc). Sure they need to learn a few extra things about it, but isn't that the fun part? Owning your own computer and being able to do special tricks with it? Well that was the case for Iris and Robyn and we believe that being the case for a lot of girls out there who don't get those opportunities.
Why are you doing Inventors University?
We often talked about extending our university to people outside our family, but coordinating schedules and just making the time got to be too difficult and we just kept it as our private fun club. And then the election happened. Instead of creating our club for our friends, could we find a deserving group of girls who otherwise couldn't get the opportunity to do something like this? Iris and Robyn attend schools that are flush with cool gadgets, qualified teachers, and encouragement to get into tech. But for a lot of kids out there, they might get their "Hour of Code", but that's about it. With all due respect (and I love the concept), an hour is only a tease and spending that hour following a recipe of instructions doesn't validate the act of coding as a means of creativity. It barely scratches the surface. Meanwhile, they might see computers in the lab every now and then, but they could never imagine having a computer of their own. That's a realistic problem for a lot of kids today. These were the kids Cherise had in mind when she ran for school board, not our kids. What if we extended our club to them? What if we provide them the gifts that we take for granted--ownership of technology, encouragement to learn, and freedom to create?
No, seriously. What's in it for you?
I want my daughters to learn about others who are not as fortunate as them and empathize, not sympathize. I want them to think of their lives as a life of service to those who need their help, even if they need to extend outside their chosen profession. I want them to adopt leadership roles, overcome their shyness, and gain confidence. I want them to know that they can be the change they wish to see in the world. I want them to learn tech and you learn best by teaching, so they will build their tech skills. I want them to think entrepreneurially and opportunistically, which is why 80% of the design of this idea is theirs. And most of all, like the motto of the school, I want them to listen to the words of Hillary Clinton's concession speech: "Never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve your own dreams". That quote, along with the Inventors University logo (designed by Iris), is posted on each of their bedroom doors. I don’t take those words lightly. In fact, we talk about those words every day and they keep us doing what we're doing.
What if I want my daughter to go to Inventors University?
We have teamed with a selected school where the students aren't afforded the opportunities or resources to do something like this. Eventually, we think we will accept other students (that's our plan for the "Summer Camp"), but for now, we are focused on these initial students.