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  • Writer's pictureValeria Rodriguez

STEM & Design Thinking Camp in Colombia

Do you ever stop to ask yourself what you really want in life?

" At least 3 times a day, ask yourself what is really important and then have the wisdom and courage to build your life around your answer."
-Lee L. Jampolsky

I have been asking myself that intentionally and openheartedly for the last few months. I still don't know the exact language, but I know that these sentiments keep surfacing:

  • I want to live with purpose

  • I want to make time to grow

  • I want to create opportunities for my son to see the world through different lenses

  • I want to create opportunities for people in different communities to grow

  • I want to share my life with people who live all out.

Based on those things, and a few life moments that really jolted me to my core earlier this year, I started brainstorming ways to move forward toward these 'wants'. I called a friend who has been a mirror soul since the day we met... to talk about life. Our conversation went from a shoulder to lean on to a teammate to create with in minutes. Below, I will share the project that we ended up co-creating as a result of aligning my (our) choices with what I (we) value.

We would love your support:


What do children of coffee farmers in the mountains of Colombia and astronauts have in common?

Their curiosity is limitless!

In 3 weeks, our team of curious captains (Valeria Rodriguez, Nico Flores, Diana Sanchez, Hilda Perez, and Maria Urena) will get to teach close to 130 kids in Zipacon, Colombia about the power of harnessing curiosity to solve problems in their communities with the help of STEM and Design Thinking! And we need your help to get the necessary supplies!

We are fundraising a project curated for the Étikaverde Foundation ,  a Colombian based foundation whose mission is to contribute to the conservation of nature and the dignification of the human being in his/her environment.

They do this through targeted programming to educate local families, especially the children in the region to be agents of change and protect their local environments.

FUN FACTS: Zipacón was the ancient home of the zipa, the ruler of the region before the Spanish Conquistadors arrived. The oldest evidences for agriculture of potatoes on the Bogotá savanna has been unearthed in Zipacón and dated at 3200 years BP.

THE PROBLEM Zipacón is a rural municipality in the mountains outside of Bogotá with roughly a population of 5,000 citizens. The children in the region do not have certain access to educational opportunities like those in the large city. Because of this, they become unmotivated and are not enthusiastic to remain in their hometown in search of other opportunities when they grow up.  

Since Zipacón, depends heavily on coffee agri-business, the foundation wants to motivate the children to fall in love with their communities, focus on teaching them the importance of sustainability in agriculture and that it can lead them to a pathway of financial abundance.

THE SOLUTION We aim to spark their imaginations with some magic through curated workshops using educational tools from space exploration labs, STEM, & Design Thinking to re-ignite their passion for learning and inspire them to be explorers and innovators for their community!

We have called the workshop Taller Di-sueño  - Ciencia Creativa en Zipacon a play on the words diseño (design) and sueño (dream) in order to grasp our goal to help them tap into their inner dreamer and do-er to design solutions for their problems.

In the workshop, we will teach the children how principles from space exploration, STEM and design thinking can help them solve problems using their creativity! While playing with flight suits and more!

THE FUNDS We are fundraising for the following items:

- transportation costs - materials for the kids to do the lab (included but not limited to paper, pipe cleaners, glue and dare we say, glitter?!) anything to get their hands dirty while creating! - lunch for the kids (we have an estimated 131 mouths to feed, not including local volunteers!) - donation to the foundation's programming work - journals, so the kids can track their work and keep it for future  creative problem solving

THE TEAM Valeria Rodriguez is an educator, author & illustrator, graphic facilitator, and instructional technologist who has worked for the past 8 years in classroom teaching, adult training, curriculum development, and program design. She is currently transitioning from a middle school science teacher to a lower school STEM teacher based in Miami, Fl. Valeria has worked internationally, serving as a Peace Corps Agriculture Volunteer in Panama and is returning from  Colombia where she co-designed a Social Entrepreneurship & STEAM camp. She is passionate about infusing learning spaces with creativity, technology, mindfulness, and good vibes. She has witnessed that the most effective way to create change within communities is through education, collaboration, and passion. Hilda Perez is COO of SALUD, an all-natural health and wellness company whose mission is to create and promote a healthier lifestyle, particularly focused within the Latino community. She is a New York native with diverse experience from international development, non-profit, technology, and social entrepreneurship sectors. Hilda brings experience in community outreach and engagement from her work at large impactful organizations such as the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Pencils of Promise and local food justice initiatives. Her expertise includes event planning, operations, social media, community management, and communications. Hilda received her B.A. in International Studies and Political Science from Adelphi University and a Masters of Social Entrepreneurship from Hult International Business School.

Diana Sanchez is a marketing consultant for social enterprises and regional campaigner at Amnesty International. Diana holds a BS in Marketing from Universidad Anáhuac México Norte in Mexico City and a Masters Degree in Social Entrepreneurship from Hult International Business School. She has 10 years of experience working in marketing and communications for agencies, multinational companies, and social enterprises. She has also specialized and worked with design thinking for multiple projects to develop campaigns and solutions for her clients. She is passionate about improving the world through her work, about women empowerment and dancing.   

Nico Flores is a sailor, fisherman, cyclist, tinker-er, and space enthusiast who loves figuring out how things work and connecting with other kids. He loves to adventure with his mom, Valeria, and excited to learn new things about the world around him and the people who make this world such a special place. Maria Urena is a proud grandmother and mother. She was born in an agricultural community in the Dominican Republic and is passionate about giving back to similar communities like the ones she grew up in.  She has a BA in Administration from Pontificia Universidad Católica Madre y Maestra. 

THANK YOU!! GRACIAS!! Thank you for donating and sharing about our program. We are excited to give you updates via photos and videos of the kids doing the work! We are so grateful and through your donation, who knows, you can help us inspire the next space farmer that will create something that will change the world!

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