Workshop Visitors


"One of the most rewarding things I’ve done in a long time time."


Tom Wooden, Parent and Workshop Visitor




Have an hour to share? Share a workshop with our students based on your interests, talents, hobbies or career?  It's as easy as 1, 2, 3. You chat about your path and interests, sharing setbacks (to help children see that overcoming setbacks is a part of growth), and then think of some project, challenge or activity for the children related to your interest, and then give the children feedback on their projects at the end of the workshop. 



Basic Format for Visitor Workshop


1. Share Your Story (5 minutes max): Share the story of how you came to have this interest or do this job. Describe a problem you had along the way and how you overcame it. (We want our students to recognize that solving problems are a part of life!)


For my visitor workshop, I shared the story of why I created Workshop Education, tying it back to my childhood. I share setbacks I encountered along the way - starting with just having one student signed up for the first day. 


2. Present Student Challenge (10 minutes max): Give the class a challenge related to the topic. Share any background information they may need for the challenge. Explain how many minutes they will have to work on the challenge until presentations. (Presentations can be work in progress.) 


My challenge was: "How can you explain Workshop to other children in one minute - an elevator pitch?" Children could use drawings, posters, skits, talks etc. We filmed students as they practiced presentations, so they could watch them and make changes as needed. 

3. Encourage during Project Time (20 - 30 minutes): Circulate and encourage students while they work on the challenge. 


You and the teacher encourage and ask questions to help the student prepare. In this case we filmed practice presentations, and discussed what was strong and what could be improved. 

4. Provide Feedback on Presentations (15 minutes): Students will present their projects or solutions. The teacher will help facilitate so students hear strengths, questions and suggestions from you and peers. 


 Students presented mainly skits, and heard strengths and feedback from me and the class. 


This provided great material for me. The children focused on how nice everyone was (which matters so much to children, but I forget to mention). One tagline is now at the top of my website: "I do better in school with less stress." 


Workshop Visitors

Make the Longest Bridge, Forest Flager - Civil Engineer 


Story: Forest shared his journey to his current job, and some issues with creating the Bird's Nest Stadium for the Olympics in Beijing. 

Student Challenge: Forest shared basic principals of bridge design, and gave the challenge to build the longest bridge possible from spaghetti and masking tape with only one anchor. 

Presentations: They couldn't move their bridges so we went around. Students discussed what worked and what didn't work in their design, the hardest part, and what they would do differently if they did it again. 


Of Interest: The younger children were less confident, tested more along the way, and had better designs!


 Design a New Musical Instrument - Kevin McElaney, parent


Story:  Learning about playing a new music instrument. Learning how instruments are constructed and how they make music. Why is music good for us and why people enjoy music? How do you learn how to read music? How does the instruments make different sounds? How does the guitar strings work and how do the keys, strings and petals on a piano all work together to make all the unique sounds?

Student Challenge: Each student had to make their own guitar out of milk cartons, rubber bands, tape, chopsticks and popsicle sticks. They had to try and make their milk cartons to play music by strumming the rubber band strings with their chopsticks. They then listened to the sounds and adjusted the strings as they felt needed to make the strumming sounds louder or quieter on their guitars.


Presentations: Students discussed what worked and what didn't work in their guitar designs, the hardest part, and what they would do differently if they did it again. 



Nutrition Visit - Heather Casale, MS, RD, CNSC is a Registered Dietitian, currently working as a full-time faculty member teaching Nutrition courses, parent)


Story: Learning about healthy eating and nutrition. How do know what foods are on the healthy and unhealthy list? How much of each food group should each child be eating every day based on their age? Making a “eat your rainbow” fruit kabobs.

Student Challenge: To figure out what foods they ate were healthy what foods where unhealthy from the day of the visit. To figure out what foods from the healthy food group they needed to eat before end of the day and what foods from the unhealthy list they should not eat by the end of day. They also had a challenge to make a healthy rainbow fruit kabob by choosing a variety of fruits in different bowls on the table.


Presentations: Students discussed what worked and what didn't work in their fruit kabob designs and also had to figure out if they ate the healthiest foods from the food groups list for their age. They also discussed the hardest part, and what they would do differently if they did it again. 

Stories from our Visitors

Gerald Schwartz, Hatch Workshop parent, husband of Hatch Site Director, and environmental scientist


is an environmental educator and science teacher. He is currently working as a Resource Conservation Specialist with the County of San Mateo Office of Sustainability where he coordinates the RecycleWorks Schools Program. He also works as a lecturer at San Jose State University where he teaches a Geology course, “Earth Systems and the Environment,” to undergraduate Teacher Preparation Students. 


According to Gerald, “Thanks to the help of the Workshop teachers, I was able to facilitate a lesson at Farallone View in which students worked in teams to build a stream by using simple materials such as sand, water, and recycled yogurt tubs, milk jugs, and long trays or bins.” The lesson started off by introducing students about the concept of running water and how landforms are made from this process by seeing photographs of the Grand Canyon. Once students grasped this concept, they created their very own stream. They were able to see the land erode and the sediment get deposit to create features such as valleys, islands, and deltas. At the end of the lesson Gerald said, “It was fantastic to see the students work together to create something that models our natural world, and have fun at the same time.”


Tom Wooden, Farallone Workshop Parent & Workshop Visitor



"I’m a project manager for a construction firm and love to build almost anything.  I’ve been really inspired by the kids in Workshop, because every time I’m there for pick up, they’re building or creating something.  Sometimes, they’re so focused, you can almost see their mind working right in front of you.  I asked Susie if I could donate some materials to help the class and at the end of our conversation she had my juices flowing and volunteering to teach the kids some practical and tangible applications about construction.  So, I thought it would be fun to teach them a little something about structures, gravity and lateral forces, and how to resist them with columns, beams and braces.  We spent about 10 minutes talking about these concepts, letting the kids explore and grasp the ideas with examples of their homes and the effect of wind and earthquakes.  Then with a simple goal in mind we set out with straws and tape to create a structure that would support the most weight.  We had a ton of fun!  One of the most rewarding things I’ve done in a long time and would love to do it again!"  

Leslie Jimison, a materials scientist from Stanford visited, and taught the children about her work trying to make flexible solar panels to weave into fabrics. The children experimented with polymers to see how they were affected by salt vs. fresh water, and presented their results to Leslie. 

Forest Flager, a civil engineer and professor at Stanford, is our most intrepid mentor. He has visited our sites over 15 times over the years. He serves as our Director of Stanford Connection to Workshop Mentor Program. Forest has given the children various challenges: the longest bridges made out of dried spaghetti and masking tape with support only one one side (tricky!), the tallest tower . . . Forest shares a few principles of building to start, works alongside the children, and gives them useful feedback on their designs. 


The founder of Goldiblox, creator of engineering toys for girls, came to Workshop to watch children use her prototype for the toy and get feedback on how they liked it. The children were later very excited to see the toy on shelves and featured in the New York Times. 

Brian Baum, a material scientist at Stanford, talked to the children about the invisibility cloak he was working on. They were fascinated! He amazed everyone by having children estimate the average height of balls made with various materials, and then brought in dry ice to show the impact of cold temperatures on materials. We watched a flower shatter, and a golf ball explode! Brian gets the award for staying up two nights working on his research project for Stanford and still coming into to mentor the Workshop students. He is an inspiration!


Professor Kim, Chief Technology Officer and Assistant Dean of the Graduate School of Education at Stanford University, met with the students to get their feedback on his project, SMILE (Stanford Mobile Inquiry-based Learning Environment). 

These Stanford students came to speak to the children about what computer science is really like, and to interview them about their attitudes and misconceptions about it for a school project.