The Joy of Cooking

Oh, what a Recipe for Success.  All on CBS Sunday Morning this November 10th, 2019

What are you going to do this week?

What is your teacher going to do to this week inspire Joy in Learning.


Schools could learn from COSTCO

Efficient, effective and only serves the very BEST!

I can’t go into Costco without trying and buying something new.  In the story about Costco they demonstrate research that goes into all products they sell.  One of the important selling points for me is their restroom. It has a long sink with the soap inside and is constantly maintained.  They apply the systems model with a focus on quality control and feedback to improve customer service.

I stopped at Costco on the way home from tutoring 2nd grades as part of my church’s HUGS program.  So this process was on my mind.  I can’t help myself as debugging is ingrained in my brain as a result of teaching computing science for decades.  The Bee-Bot represents quality control every step of the way.  I read my mentee “Miss Money Honey”.  I want to her excitement by reading this book to all the 2nd graders at this low-income school.  This book was written by a neighbor who became a friend through our three-year-old granddaughters.  That is the feedback loop that is talked about in the talk that TED picked out for me today (the power of AI).



“At least the words were said …” Elon Musk attends meetings that ask for opinions.  Oh my, if only that happened in schools.  My grandson posted on his blog site he is bored in school.  But on his first post he wanted to be a scientist.  What happened?  Schools do not build on dreams and aspirations of their clients, they test them to death.  They don’t give learners time to share their opinions. Elon askes “What do you love about the future?” in his TED talk that AI picked for me today. I sent this to our Houston Aspirations applicants as they are the future changers.

If you have a dream of building future cities, share that idea. Elon started “The Boring Company” – beginning as a hobby employed by mostly interns. You can be that intern. Since CS is now part of CTE high schools have funding to help you find internships. Our Houston Aspirations team wants to help you too. The first step is to share what problem you want to solve and how technology can help solve it.

In fact, that is the only way to solve problems today.  “Technology only improves if we have a lot of people working together. – So I ask Elon, you have amazing solutions. You are a fixer. What can you do about improving the input to the future? Our children …

What is the biggest problem facing this century? – The Mind Behind …

Hiking – Together is Better

That is our AAUW Hiking Hunnies team!!

Grayson and Emory, where are you?  Your 2016 monarch butterfly habitat is empty.  Thanks for my hiking friends who collected leaves for me, my 3 year old granddaughter added to her dot pictures.  If only creating collections of leaves was part of our report card for schools, we might have more nature adventures.

Problem Fixers

Problem Fixers are our NCWIT Aspirations Community.



Off the Beaten Path … Inspiration Struck.  Let’s use what we have. Reunite People.  Just a dream after 6 years dealing with politics actually build it.  Others thought it was a dumb idea. Volunteers labor built it.

In my neighborhood in West Houston the Woods Project was started at Spring Woods High School.  A dear AAUW WISE friend went with a group of these students on a wilderness trip and continues to support this and outdoor challenges.  Ryan Beeler an environmental teacher enhanced his passion projects with Shared Tables to help prevent wasting and food.  This teacher is a champion, along with Alice Fisher at Bellaire High School who students started FreshHubHouston. Thank you Kinder for supporting the work of these problem fixers.

Building strong communities block by block. Fixes: Building for Real With Digital Blocks. To improve community structures with citizens’ input, the United Nations uses a computer game inspired by Lego. Read to see how Minecraft is used by city planners.

Houston , yes “We have a problem” but we are working together to make it better.

WHY Apply 4 Aspirations Award


Challenges makes life interesting.

Computing Skills Are Essential

Computing and computational thinking are increasingly important 21st-century skills. These skills lead the way for innovative solutions to long-standing problems at national and local levels. Technology increasingly permeates every aspect of society.

  1. Why Apply – because Together is Better!!
  2. We need to build a diverse population of computers.
  3. We need to find our Hidden Figures and Rosies.
  4. We need to find solutions to our local problems by using technology like Aspirations winners Shirley and Annie Zhu . With other Bellaire HS students they created Fresh Hub Houston.


HOW – Learn and Plan Together

The WHO – You + These Communities

Thank you RUSMP for sharing this at your Networking Conference!

See Article about this event in our local newspaper.

These photos don’t tell the whole story, but hopefully will start you thinking about what you can do.  This is what I captured, but Rosie Anne Papakonstantinou will add more to the story on the RUSMP website.

My take-a ways:

  • Dr. Richard Tapia
    • “One step forward will get you to good places.” That is decompose, something computer science teaches.  Break down problems into smaller parts.  If the challenge is too big, break it down again until you can write a procedure to achieve your goal.
    • “Needed UCLA to be prepared for Rice.”  Went to a Sequin school and worked hard.  Persevered after a life of rejection.
    • Learned to love math because was good at it.
    • Can’t be confident without success. (This is game theory)
  • Edward Gonzalez, Exxon on the STEM professional panel – “Evaluate data to make pricing more efficient.” – That is data science.  Something CS teaches.  See Bootstrapworld for free curriculum for students to learn about this world. Something all teachers need to learn, especially social studies and environmental science teachers.
  • Sandra Coleman, BHP Lawyer and Finance expert – Get parents involved … had dyslexia yet survived and thrived thanks to her parents.”
  • STEM Student panel –
    • “Learn how to learn things, use resources to figure out how.
    • Teachers who care and encourage you to keep trying are essential. (Please send encouraging note to a HS girl.)
    • Giving students small wins.  Research projects that build positive results.
    • Less time on board better!!! Interacting and hands-on lessons are what creates learning.
  • Ellis Wyms – bonus presenter invited by Debbie Campbell, RUSMP project manager.  He shared about his passion that turned to action to inspire athletes to learn about computer science. I shared about my passion for CSforAll, but more than that, my goal to make this a priority in the allotment of time in the classroom.  Reporter Pete Hamill in the CBS October 2019 special brought back the need for classroom reporters, those students who tell the truth. Young Verse message from his Fish in a Tank video is an inspiration to both of us. I discovered with the teachers in this conference we need to do more to spread the word about NCWIT.  And that students can be reporters from the classroom. Please help find one high school student and encourage her to share her passion.

Located in our Herman Park Rose Garden across the street from Rice – a pathway worth taking.

Remembering 9/11

As I remember 9/11 I wanted to use this to communicate a small step you can do today to bring change.  Below is an email I am sending my friends and connectors.  If we all did the same thing, maybe we can move forward to peace in this world.  Please share! As the student you find might be the innovator we need for our future.

On this 18th anniversary of 9/11 will you help spread the word so together we can build our community of problem solvers ?  Please find one high school girl who has a vision and invite her to apply for the Aspirations award.  Fill out the simple form at  Make her feel good by giving her value.  And let me know if you invite her and I will let you know if she applies.  Will give you joy too.

How would you use technology to bring peace to this world? What problem do you want to solve is a question on the NCWIT awards. By applying for this award, students can share their solution and brainstorm with other young women who aspire to solve the same challenge.  And that challenge can be local to bring a spirit of giving and being nice to your community. It is using computer science to prevent problems through data science. It is preventing the need for cyber security.

Teachers, please make this a warmup journaling prompt, so when it comes time to submit the application, the hard part, the short essay is written.  Our students can be the leaders of learning.

Thank you,
Karen North, Houston Co-Coordinator

Aspirations in Art&CS

Houston Chronicle Editorial September 7, 2019  – submitted this viewpoint after reading the editorial about Sally the Salad vending machine and on the same page the opinion by Deborah Lugo, John Abodeely and Cathy Bencivenga.  I have been submitting editorials before it was so easy to post.  But now I keep up with the history as so easy: editorial-thoughts-right-or-wrong/ and hope they get published: Goal is to inspire others to mentor students to build their aspirations, as it is only the young who can make the future better.


“Arts classes important part of complete education” by Arts Connect leaders 9/7/2019 – thank you for this opinion! Providing access does transform schools and our city by giving a chance to express and channel creativity, adaptability and collaboration.  But computer science education also teaches these skills and more. The Houston of tomorrow needs a prepared 21st-century workforce to create more “Sally” machines that solve real problems like easy access to healthy food. Now to get these salad bots into schools. As well as the ability to program the bots. Coding is an art form that plays the same key role as art classes. But coding art is accessible to all, even the blind and those who can’t hold a pencil.

The challenge is time. The solution to bring computer science to all ( is to integrate IT into other courses. As a computer science educator, I solved that problem by combining the art of programming with creating graphics.  This art lesson was first presented at an Expanding Your Horizons conference in 1990s.  It continues currently by teaching students to create digital flowers they can share for free. Along with colleagues, I have presented at the Houston Art Partners Conference on creating Mondrian Art. This takes the program design process from Legos, to paper, to digital art using programming languages from beginner to college.  If your art is dance, try coding a robot to do a line dance or have a dance party.

To overcome the equitable access challenge, I volunteer to train anyone interested in learning to code for free, if they sustain and scale this work.  And my best audience is high school girls who have aspirations in computing. One of our aspirations winners from Puerto Rico is creating a comic book for the UH brain research center.  We need artists to be part of our community.  Please join us at the Empowering Latinas in Tech event at UHD as we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month where we will have an outreach table.


  1. Examples of how to code art:
  2. Create digital flowers:
  3. Mondrian Art lesson:
  4. Code a robot to do a line dance:
  5. Dance party:
  6. UH brain research center:
  7. NCWIT Aspirations Resources:
  8. Anita Borg Empowering Latinas Event:

This opinion was written by Karen North, NCWIT Aspirations Houston Coordinator and White House Champion of Change for Computer Science Education.  She has taught CS, math and business in Fort Bend ISD, Alief ISD and Houston ISD starting in 1985.  Karen was one of the first certified computer science teachers in Texas. She was a writer of the first computer science TEKS and the 2011 update which created 15 CS courses, as well as writer of national CS Standards. See for her history.

WHY? – Only two Houston applicants for the Humans in Space Art Competition – asking “What will we do on the moon?”  I did try to spread the word.  Like I try to spread the word about the award.  HOW can we reach more children?  WHAT support is needed? – see AdolescentBrain for ideas.

BONUS – The Art Data of Happiness – WHY Art Connection?

When you plant a seed

“If you plant a seed” grew to “When you plant a seed”

Book by Kadir Nelson

Victory with Victory Gardens – The ideas abound – here are a few more seeds (TED Talks):

GROWING PROJECTS … want inspiration? See what this inspiring teacher did.

History still growing – hope my posts help plant seeds

As my TED Talk page grows, started organizing around topics.  Food I am thinking is the most important. Missing ingredient is people doers. Champions of Change.

Can the bees help?

From junk to fresh food. What about a “sin” tax to provide the resources for change?

And the bigger question, who is evaluating all the outreach programs that businesses fund? That is what I would like to do as I am tired of planting seeds that don’t grow.  And volunteering in schools to pull the weeds that were not prevented.