Author: Shawn Stavseth

2017 Technovation Challenge Registration is Open!

Calling all girls, mentors, and volunteers! Registration for the Global Technovation Challenge is now open.

Registration Opens: October 1, 2016
Individual & Team Registration Deadline: March 8, 2017
Submission Deadline: April 26, 2017
World Pitch Summit: August 7-11, 2017

Every year, Technovation challenges girls all over the world to build a mobile app that will address a community problem. Since 2009:

  • 10,000 girls have participated inTechnovation from over 78 countries
  • Over 2,400 professionals have built a global network of support for Technovation girls as mentors, educators and regional ambassadors
  • Over 1,700 mobile apps have been created by Technovation participants

Girls, whether you are an athlete, musician, love fashion, or want to explore medicine, coding can help you pursue your interests now and create greater career options and job security for your future. Imagine building an app that you can have on your own phone. Come find out what it is all about!

Volunteers and mentors, there is no technical expertise necessary to become involved and support getting more girls into STEM careers through Technovation!

Note to past mentors & coaches: the coach and mentor roles have been consolidated for 2017.

Why is it so important to inspire girls to learn to code?

Women make up half of the total U.S. college-educated workforce, but only 29% of the science and engineering workforce. –NSF Science and Engineering Indicators, 2016

In 2014 women held on 26% of computing occupations, down from 36% in 1991 – NCWIT, Women in IT: The Facts

The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that by 2020 there will be more than 1.4 million computing-related job openings. At current rates, however, we can only fill about 30% of those jobs with U.S. computing bachelor’s grads.

Girls represent a valuable, mostly untapped talent pool – Exploring Computer Science/Resources/cs-statistics
If current trends continue, by 2018 the information technology industry will only be able to fill half of its available jobs. – NCWIT, Women in IT: The Facts

The fraction of women among bachelor’s graduates has decreased in Computer Science, from 37% in 1984 to 11.7% in 2010/2011. – Women Computing Association Computing Degree and Enrollment Trends

Only about one out of every seven engineers is female. – U.S. Department of Commerce, Economics and Statistics Administration

And finally Minnesota ranks 47 out of 50 in Computer Science standards. (YIKES) – Computer Science Teachers Association, Running on Empty.

If girls are inspired to see that Computer Science can make the world more beautiful, more safe, more innovative, even more healthy, then hopefully they will begin to contribute their essential voices.

Join us in inspiring our Minnesota girls to do great things through tech.

Use the green button to sign up above!

MN Aspirations in Computing Awards

We’re excited to share with you an annual award offering career inspiring opportunities for female students in your Minnesota high school who have technology interests and aspirations. Young women in grades 9-12 are invited to apply for the fifth annual Minnesota Aspirations in Computing Awards, hosted by Advance IT Minnesota and prominent local partners.

Last year, 30 winners and runners-up from across the state were honored with the award and an additional 22 young women received certificates of distinction. Overall honoree recognition increased more than 50% from the previous year. One Minnesota winner also received national recognition.

Students can start their applications for the award.

Watch the highlight video of the 2016 Aspirations ceremony (2:28)
Bonus: Watch the highlight video of the 2015 Aspirations ceremony (2:44)

Please share this amazing opportunity and support young women in your school!
Application Period: Sept. 1 – Nov. 7, 2016


We are hiring!

Technovation[MN] is looking for a project manager intern to help implement this year’s Technovation Challenge. If you are passionate about technology and want to do something to get more girls involved in the innovation of products this role is for you.

Contact Us to apply.

Our ideal candidate is someone who is obsessed with details. Someone who is proactive vs reactive and creative in getting things done.

What You Will Learn:
1. How to create and manage an implementation and communications plan.
2. Effectively manage a community of supporters in Salesforce.
3. How to manage email lists and design and schedule email communications through MailChimp.
4. Update a WordPress website.
5. Create compelling content that will be shared with our supporters.
6. Assist Board Chairs and Committees in completing program tasks.
7. Plenty of additional opportunities in related projects.

What We Require:
1. Background in Project Management or other related fields
2. Strong communication skills.
3. Proficient in Microsoft Suite Office and Google.
4. Familiarity with a few of the following solutions: Salesforce, WordPress, MailChimp, Dropbox, Eventbrite, and Trello.
5. Pragmatic and results driven personality.
6. Organized, with an ability to prioritize time-sensitive assignments.
7. Interest in nonprofit management and community development.

You will become knowledgeable in how a non-profit operates and you will also learn how to work in a professional environment and have ample opportunity to network with board members and other professional volunteers.

The position begins September 1 and ends May 15. You are expected to work 4 hours a week at a location of your preference. This is a volunteer internship.

Contact Us to apply.

Technovation[MN] receives grant from Amazon

Amazon today announced plans for a new technology development center in downtown Minneapolis that will create 100 full-time, technology-focused jobs. To celebrate Amazon’s expansion in the Minneapolis community, Amazon is donating $10,000 plus mentoring support to local nonprofit Code Savvy to help the group’s mission of encouraging youth’s understanding of coding and promoting diversity in the technology industry. Amazon currently has hundreds of employees in Minnesota and is in the process of hiring an additional 1,000 full-time employees for its new Shakopee, Minnesota, fulfillment center.

“I’m excited that Amazon is bringing 100 new, high-tech jobs to Minneapolis,” remarked Representative Raymond Dehn (DFL-Minneapolis). “Not only will they be creating good paying jobs in an area of need, they’ve chosen to donate $10,000 to Code Savvy, a non-profit that teaches inner-city kids to code so they may have a better future. Minneapolis has been a leader in technology and I’m pleased to welcome Amazon to our community.”

As part of the company’s expansion in Minneapolis and its commitment to the local community, Amazon will be donating $10,000 to Code Savvy to fund the nonprofit’s Technovation[MN] program. The program focuses on technology entrepreneurship led by girls that helps participants build problem-solving apps and create business plans. Amazon employees at the new office will also be offering mentoring support to Code Savvy.

“Code Savvy is so thrilled that Amazon is expanding their technology team to the Minneapolis area and has honored us with a donation to our all-girl entrepreneurship and app development program, Technovation[MN]. Welcome to the Code Savvy community!” said Jean Weiss, executive director of Code Savvy. “In addition to this much needed funding, we are looking forward to the Amazon team participating as mentors in the program and hosting teams on field trips at their sites. Our thriving tech community will be a great place for Amazon’s expanded venture and we look forward to working closely with them on this and other Code Savvy programs going forward.”

To learn more about job opportunities with Amazon in Minnesota, visit

See Amazon’s Full Press Release

And the winners are….

What an incredible day…….Congrats to every single girl who pitched today!  These 7 teams will be entered into the semi-final round of the World Pitch Competition.


In no particular order.

J.A.T.S with Ace Assisted from St. Francis Assisi, Rochester MN
Ace Assisted is an app that help you find the perfect Rochester-area assisted living center.



Computer Glitz with Meals on Wheels from Dakota Hills Middle School, Eagan MN
The Meals on Wheels app improves the lives of Meals on Wheels clients, eases the work of volunteers, and connects people in the Meals on Wheels system.


Furst-Class Techies with Mission 2020 from Kasson-Mantorville Schools, Kasson-Mantorville MN
This educational app brings awareness to sex trafficking.  It provides facts, vocabulary, red flags, reasons victims stay and additional resources for obtaining help.


Wayfinders with subWayfinder from St. John the Evangelist, Rochester MN
Do you have problems navigating the Rochester-Mayo subway?  SubWAYfinder addresses problems such as finding places to eat, shop, and anything in between.


Tech-ATS with Help! I’m Hungry from BDPA Middle School, Rochester MN
Help! I’m Hungry is an easy way to find free food for people who can not afford to buy meals or groceries.



Team Tator-Tot with CharterConnect from Avalon School, St. Paul MN
CharterConnect works as a resource bank, a network for teachers to connect and an event calendar, all in one.


Feminists & STEMinists with Volunteerium from Byron School, Byron MN
Our app “Volunteerium” will connect small communities, starting with our hometown of Byron, Minnesota

Congratulations to all 50 MN teams for completing your submissions to Global! See you at Appapalooza May 1.

All 50 teams from Minnesota completed their 12-weeks of technology entrepreneur curriculum and submitted their mobile apps that solve a social problem to the Technovation Challenge.  Congratulations to you all!  What a huge accomplishment.  We are very excited to see you and hear your app pitches, not to mention celebrate your success, at Appapalooza on 5/1.  It’s party time!

This piece was composed by Tara Chklovski, founder and CEO of Iridescent, to recognize the achievements of all Technovation program participants.

Do you feel the same?
Tara Chklovski

I failed at something that I had worked all my life to try to accomplish.
Has that ever happened to you?
It shakes your confidence. You don’t know what is real anymore.
You don’t have a foundation.
Your image of yourself is shattered.

I went under a shell. It was warm.
But I got restless.
I wanted to do something big, something larger than myself
Something that would help improve the lives of others.

I decided to start something new — a nonprofit
That would inspire children all over the world
To change their own worlds for the better
Because children often know best

But starting is so hard.
I had never started anything before in my life.
I didn’t know how to.
Would I be successful?
What is success anyway?
Does success even matter?
Who defines success and labels it as such?
Have you ever wondered that?

I was scared to start.
But then my husband dared me to start.
And I did.

That was ten years ago.
Iridescent is a global education nonprofit now
Helping thousands of young people
Change their worlds around them
By innovating and being brave.

I needed a little push, even if it was just a trivial dare.

Did Technovation give you that little push?
To program a mobile app?
To launch a startup?

If someone asked you last year, “Are you a technology entrepreneur?”
What would you have said then?
What would you say today?
You may not feel it right now, but you have just accomplished something amazing.
Something most adults never experience.
Something only the very brave undertake and accomplish.
The task of creating something new – something that didn’t exist before.

Do you remember just three months ago?
Being nervous about programming an app
Even setting up the emulator was hard. You couldn’t find the instructions page.
You were thinking, “If I can’t set up the emulator, how am I going to get through the whole 12 weeks?”
But you quieted that inner voice.
And kept following instructions one line after one line

And then you realized that you were doing it – you were programming!
And then there was the sheer delight of creating your first app that talks back to you!
A meowing kitty!
Because you created it.
You couldn’t have done that last year.
Now you can, because you were brave enough to try

Do you remember being surprised by how hard it was to work with other people?
Other people who feel just as passionately about the app as you.
But they saw things slightly differently – from you
Do you remember having angry conversations?
Trying to convince others you were right
Then learning that the team is more important than the app
That was a surprising, pepperminty feeling
And you re-learn that everyday!
I do too 🙂

Do you remember doing market research?
(Last year did you know what that term meant?)
Do you remember the feeling of panic
When you found that five other apps actually do what you had set out to do?
And they looked way cooler.
I felt the same.
And I continue to feel the same every time I do a scan of the environment.
But the panic lessens.
You become more confident each day, each year.
You learn that you are unique and the world needs you.
Your gifts. Your dedication. Your passion.

Stay strong.
It takes time to grow into an oak.

You are looking into the camera. App submission day. April 21, 2016, 5 PM PST.
You force a smile that you don’t feel in your eyes.
Why is it that nervousness makes your mouth dry, but your hands wet?
You really want to brush your hands through your hair once more, but maybe that wouldn’t be professional?
You worry that your skirt is not as nice as the others’
You stay strong.

You did it! Your team did it.
What a special feeling of peace and calm. The movies always show high energy teams high-five-ing each other.
Is it strange that you just feel relieved?
You feel that you should text and tell your mom.
After all, this is the first time you created something that will change the world – your world.
It’s so big and important, yet quiet.

You get an automated email saying “Thank you for your submission”.
What happens next?
You learned so much.
There must be a next step.
But no one has told you what to do next.

Maybe this is the next stage to grow as a leader.
Maybe you can teach another girl
The magic of creating something using technology
The magic of working together to bring an idea to life.
And then she will go and teach another girl

And she another

And she another…And she another…

Maybe thats how we all will change the world for the better.


Summer Camps

Get ready for Summer with these STEM camps.

Technovation[MN] at Microsoft Community Day – June 17. Watch for more details.

Abamath Summer Programs

University of MN Summer Computing Academy for female High School students

Macalester College SPARCS at Mac Tech Camp for Minnesota Girls

Advanced IT Minnestota Camp Explore

The Works Museum Summer Programs

Leonardos Basement

Two of Minnesota’s Youngest App Developers Earn Exclusive Invitation to the White House

(WASHINGTON, D.C. – April 13, 2016) — Kasson-Mantorville Middle School students and Technovation Global Challenge participants Lydia Mindermann and Andrea Richards are presenting their family-friendly stress-reduction app at the 6th Annual White House Science Fair in Washington, D.C. on April 13 – showing off the fruits of more than a year of hard work in the highest-profile setting available to middle school app developers.

Mindermann and Richards were invited to share their story alongside dozens of other ambitious young techies who’ve devoted months or years to tackling some of the world’s most pressing problems, from climate change and chronic disease to global poverty and spaceflight.

“We are so proud of Lydia and Andrea, and are delighted that they will have this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to share their community-focused app at the White House,” said Tara Chklovski, CEO of Iridescent, Technovation Global Challenge’s nonprofit parent organization. “These young women, alongside their Technovation peers, have already proven that they’re ready and eager to apply their new entrepreneurial skills and can-do spirit to solve tomorrow’s problems and we are proud to support them.”

Rochester-area developers Mindermann and Richards represent two-thirds of Team Furst Class, a 2015 Technovation Global Challenge finalist and Audience Choice Award winner. Mindermann, Richards, and fellow developer Rylee Melius beat out nearly 400 other teams of middle- and high-schoolers from around the world – as far away as Nigeria, Brazil and India – to join just three other middle school teams and six high school teams as Technovation Global Challenge finalists. The 10 teams presented to a panel of tech industry executives at Technovation’s World Pitch Summit, held in San Francisco last June.

Team Furst Class’s app, Mayo FreeTime, helps Mayo Clinic patients and family members pass time and stay positive between appointments in and around Mayo’s Rochester campus. Locally, Mayo FreeTime was recognized by Mayo Clinic itself and featured in multiple media outlets, including WCCO Radio and the Rochester Post-Bulletin.

Sponsored at Kasson-Mantorville Middle School by teacher Sharie Furst and mentored by Rochester-area IBMer Kris Kendall, Team Furst Class began developing Mayo FreeTime in late 2014. They worked alongside more than 25 other Minnesota teams – and well over 100 girls overall – to prepare for Technovation[MN]’s Appapalooza, one of the largest World Pitch Summit feeder events in the United States.

At Appapalooza 2015, held at the Minneapolis Convention Center, Team Furst Class pitched to over 100 attendees – mentors, teachers, parents, fellow students, community members and media professionals – in a dry run for the international event.


Judges Needed – A Unique Opportunity

Guest post by Kate Boeckman, Judging Chair

The Technovation Challenge season has three weeks to go, and on April 21st, the teams will be submitting their final projects. Technovation[MN] has been selected to be an Official Pitch Event for the Technovation Challenge, and with this honor we have the opportunity to judge the teams in Minnesota. Four middle school teams and one high school team will advance to the semi-final round. From there, an elite group of semi-finalists from around the globe will win a trip to present their pitches to the final judging panel in Silicon Valley.

We are looking for a variety of technical, marketing and entrepreneurial professionals to judge our 40 middle school and 10 high school teams. Using the Official Judging Rubric, each judge will review materials from up to 10 Technovation[MN] teams between April 22 and April 29. We estimate this will require about an hour for each team. Then, the final judging will take place at the Appapalooza on Sunday afternoon, May 1, at the Minneapolis Convention Center, where each team will present their pitch to a live audience.

Becoming a Technovation[MN] judge is a unique opportunity to:

  •  Network with Minnesota’s mobile app community;
  •  Be seen as an industry leader and promoter; and
  •  Most importantly, inspire girls to contribute their own essential voices through technology, computer science, and entrepreneurship to help make the world a better place.

Please complete the Technovation[MN] Judging Application no later than April 8 if you are interested in being considered for this exciting opportunity to inspire a diverse new code-savvy generation! We encourage you to apply. We will get back to you by April 14. Judging panels will be selected to balance area of expertise and gender.



Call for Appapalooza Volunteers

Guest post from Rita Horrigan, Appapalooza Volunteer Coordinator

Appapalooza 2016 will take place on Sunday, May 1 from 2-5pm at the Minneapolis Convention Center. We will need several volunteers to pull off this year’s event as we are expecting over 150 participants and 400 attendees! If you are interested in volunteering, please sign up using the instructions below:
We’re using VolunteerSpot (the leading online signup and reminder tool) to organize our upcoming activity.

Please sign up for Technovation[MN]’s Appapalooza Event!

Here’s how it works in 3 easy steps:
1. Click here to go to our invitation page on VolunteerSpot.
2. Enter your email address. (You will NOT need to register an account on VolunteerSpot)
3. Sign up! Choose your spots – VolunteerSpot will send you an automated confirmation and reminders. Easy!

Note: VolunteerSpot does not share your email address with anyone. If you prefer not to use your email address, please contact me and I can sign you up manually.

Feel free to forward this email to others that may be interested in volunteering. The week of April 24th, you will receive additional information regarding your shift and responsibilities.

Thank you for helping us celebrate young women transforming the world one mobile app at a time!