Anniversary Week Giveaways: We have winners!

Many thanks to everyone who entered our two-year anniversary giveaways this week and helped spread the word. We've notified all our winning entrants by email. Great big heaps o’ gratitude to the wonderful businesses and organizations who made it possible by contributing all the items we're giving away.

The entry process and randomized drawing went ever so smoothly thanks to the free app known as Rafflecopter. And the winners are . . .

Friendly Chemistry curriculum:
Kristi C.
STEAM3 Interactive Playground passes:

Stacey L. and Andee K.
Toybrary Austin 6-visit Stay & Play punch card:

May T.
Austin Tinkering School set of 3 Tinkering Challenge Boxes:

Monica P.
Smudge Studios art workshop gift certificate:

Jan B.
The Universe Trilogy children’s science books:

Jody H.

For those of you whose names were not drawn, here are two virtual hugs of consolation:

  • If you register for STEAM3 by Dec. 31 using the special code ALTEDATX, you’ll receive an extra $10 off the special earlybird price on the complete conference, interactive playground, and VIP party.
  • All entrants in the Friendly Chemistry giveaway are eligible for a 25% discount off the purchase of a student textbook. Just email Joey & Lisa at, tell them you came from Alt Ed Austin’s giveaway, and you’ll get a special code to use at checkout.

I look forward to sharing many more alternative learning resources and opportunities with you in the coming year!


Giveaway: The Universe Trilogy

Since I discovered them ten years ago, I’ve been seizing every opportunity to share my love for the three beautiful children’s books in The Universe Trilogy. What better excuse than Alt Ed Austin’s 2nd Anniversary Giveaway Week?


In this charming book, the “Universe” is your home, your host, and your storyteller. If it could talk, it would say exactly what Jennifer has scripted for it.
—Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson, director, Hayden Planetarium, American Museum of Natural History


These books, all written by Jennifer Morgan, do an excellent job of explaining complex scientific concepts in ways that children can easily grasp without dumbing them down. Just as importantly, they do it in ways that inspire awe in readers of all ages. The books are narrated in first person—by the universe itself—and addressed directly to the reader. It’s an unusual strategy, and it works.


The story of life is, quite simply, the greatest story ever told . . . and here is the perfect first telling. —Bill McKibben, author, The End of Nature, the first-ever book about global warming; president and cofounder,


The illustrations, painted by Dana Lynne Anderson, are gorgeous and expansive. The Big Bang Theory, the formation of stars and planets, the origins and early development of life, and the evolution of humans will make lasting impressions on young readers’ minds in part because the facts are accompanied by such unforgettable images.


Mammals Who Morph . . . will engage and enchant, as well as educate. . . . It is a must for every school library—and I shall give it to my grandchildren and my sister’s grandchildren and my godchildren . . .
—Dr. Jane Goodall, founder, Jane Goodall Institute;
UN Messenger of Peace


If you are lucky enough to win this trilogy in our drawing, I predict that, like Jane Goodall, you’ll eventually want to get more to give away. If so (or, perish the thought, you don’t win), you can buy them directly from Dawn Publications, one of the best publishers of quality books on science and nature for families. In the meantime, be sure to get your entries in by midnight on Thursday, December 12! I’ll announce the winners of all of the week’s giveaways on Friday.


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Giveaway: Smudge Studios gift certificate

It’s Day 5 of our week of giveaways in honor of Alt Ed Austin’s second anniversary, and those notorious instigators of creativity over at Smudge Studios are helping us celebrate! They’ve offered up a $45 workshop gift certificate to one of our readers. They have lots of awesome art workshops for kids and adults to choose from, including some with winter holiday themes coming right up.

Smudge Studios after-school and homeschool students’ recent work with watercolors, salt, glue, wax, alcohol, and pushpins

Smudge founders Heather and Jaclyn both come from teaching backgrounds with an emphasis in art. They firmly believe that “everyone has a creative soul waiting to be unleashed”—and they are experts at that tricky unleashing part. In addition to workshops, they offer after-school and homeschool classes, weekend workshops, camps, adult studio time, parties, and other events for all ages.

Don’t miss the Smudge Studios Holiday Bazaar on Saturday, December 14, featuring handmade gifts from local artists. And if you need to get the kids out of the house on December 23 for some creative hands-on fun, sign them up for the Smudge Studios half-day winter camp for ages 4–13.

Back to the giveaway: You can enter the randomized drawing in various ways below. Be sure to do so by midnight on Thursday, December 12; we’ll announce the winners of all of the week’s special giveaways on Friday. Good luck!


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Giveaway: Set of 3 Tinkering Challenge Boxes

I love a good mystery, so I’m excited to the point of goosebumps that our friends at the Austin Tinkering School have donated a set of three mysterious Tinkering Challenge Boxes in honor of our Anniversary Giveaway Week. Here are the clues provided on the outside of the boxes:

Each box contains 1 (one) random assortment of odds and ends, and 1 (one) building challenge designed to test your mettle, creativity, and ingenuity. ALL ASSEMBLY REQUIRED.  You may use tape or glue (not provided). HAPPY TINKERING.

These would make excellent holiday gifts for the young inquiring minds in your life. Each is different, and you could win them all! Pick one or more ways to enter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This drawing closes at midnight on Thursday, Dec. 12; we’ll announce the winner on Friday the 13th. If you’ve missed our other 2nd Anniversary Week giveaways, you have through Thursday to enter those, too. Thanks for your support!

Giveaway: Toybrary Austin pass

One of the best things to happen this year for Austin families was the opening of Toybrary Austin. It truly is a marvelous concept and green business model; as owner and longtime educator Liza Wilson explains on the website:

A toy library operates much like a book library, only the items available for loan are toys, making it possible for parents to offer their children age-appropriate toys at each developmental stage without having to spend a lot of money or have a ton of storage space. We have over 850 toys available for checkout, so come check it out!

But the Toybrary is about much more than toys. Drop in during any given week, and you might find language immersion classes for toddlers, art labs for older kids, parenting workshops, concerts by popular children’s performers like Staci Gray and Laura Freeman, puppet shows, Heartsong music classes, yoga, Lego birthday parties, and even date night child care. There’s also plenty of quiet time when you can sip a cup of tea and read or chat while your child explores the beautiful, clean, developmentally stimulating indoor play area.

Can you tell how much I love this place? Then you can imagine my delight when Liza contributed a six-day Stay & Play pass for Alt Ed Austin’s Anniversary Giveaway Week. This would be a great holiday gift for a friend—or yourself! You have several ways to enter, with up to eight chances to win. We’ll keep the entry box (below) open through Thursday and announce the winner on lucky Friday the 13th.

Toybrary Austin, located at 7817 Rockwood Lane in north central Austin near Anderson Lane, is open from 10am to 6pm Tuesday through Saturday.


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The future is STEAMy

Maggie Duval wears many hats comfortably: event producer, web developer, futurist, alt educator, mom. In her guest post for Alt Ed Austin she shares the news about her latest project, STEAM3, the conference and “Interactive Playground” that is shaping up to be one of the most interesting events of 2014.

GIVEAWAY: As part of Alt Ed Austin’s 2nd anniversary celebration, we have two pairs of Interactive Playground passes to give away—each good for one adult and one student. There are lots of ways to enter the drawing; you’ll find the entry form at the end of the post, along with a special discount code for all Alt Ed Austin readers who want to attend the whole shebang. Thanks, Maggie!


I’m very excited about a new project I’m working on that weaves together my four great loves:  alternative approaches to education (including STEM/STEAM), mining the brilliance that lives at the intersection of art and technology, futures studies, and emerging technology. Called STEAM3 (Science + Tech + Engineering + Arts + Math “cubed”), it will take place in early March and is the first public event of its kind to present a comprehensive look into the future of experiential learning. It will provide an interactive stage for the exploration and demonstration of the emerging approaches, formats, technologies, and learning models that will redefine education over the next decade.

The buzz is huge around STEM in education, which focuses on bringing kids up to speed on science, technology, engineering, and math skills by masterfully blending holistic and cross-disciplinary approaches to teaching and engagement. However, many are finally acknowledging the importance of the arts in that equation, hence the “A” in STEAM. The “cubed” part comes from our desire to address the whole child, explore alternative approaches to education (which as a mom I’ve been passionate about since my own childhood), as well as engendering a positive, empowered approach to what’s coming toward us in the future.

I have developed the event with professional futurist Derek Woodgate of The Futures Lab, who is also Consultant in Residence at the Digital Arts and Entertainment Lab (DAEL) at Georgia State University. I serve as CEO for two divisions of The Futures Lab, Inc., Learning Innovations in Future Education (LIFE) and the Future Entertainment and Events Lab (FEEL). The latter was formerly known as Plutopia Productions, Inc., which I also headed up, and we produced numerous “sense events” at SXSW Interactive and beyond.

For this unique two-day event held in Austin, Texas, we’ve assembled some of the world’s foremost experts in the field of future education as well as the most innovative and immersive demonstrations and exhibits of emerging educational technologies in what we’re terming our “Interactive Playground,” featuring such areas as the Living Classroom, Make Magic, Interactive Storytelling, and the Game of Learning. Special panels and demos will address topics such as alternative approaches to education, avatars for learning, “education is art, art is education,” girls in engineering, and more.

The family-friendly event is for parents, kids, and educators certainly, but also for artists, instructional designers, “makers,” instructors/trainers, content creators, mobile development designers, researchers, and more! And this is only the beginning of our journey. It will continue through a number of similar events that we are planning for Atlanta, Georgia; Belo Horizonte, Brazil; and Manchester, UK, as well as through an online post-event portal and virtual and in-person salons.

Our Keynote Speakers include:

There will also be talks and demos from MIT Media Lab’s Lifelong Kindergarten group, Nano Art by Cris Orfescu, Experimental Geography by Nato Thompson, and Algorithmic Art from Joel Kahn. And don’t miss Art, Technology, and Augmented Reality from Marvin Neibuhr and Dr. Bruce Niebuhr, Gamification for Learning by Billy Joe Cain, and Makerspace, a space for young children to learn about STEAM-oriented topics with Joseph Lopez, Head of Faculty of Convergent Media at the University of Incarnate Word in San Antonio.

Conference and Interactive Playground
March 1 & 2, 2014
UT Commons Learning Center
JJ Pickle Research Campus, University of Texas
10100 Burnet Road, Austin, TX 78758

VIP Party for conference ticket holders
and special guests only

Saturday, March 1, at ATX Hackerspace
9701 Dessau Road, Suite 304, Austin, TX 78754

More information and tickets are available at Full Conference + Interactive Playground + VIP party tickets are priced at $99.95 until December 31—and Alt Ed Austin readers get an extra $10 off this special rate! Just use the coupon code ALTEDATX at checkout. Feel free to share with your friends. On January 1, the price goes up to $124.95. Interactive Playground–only tickets range from $7.50 to $25.

This event is sponsored in part by The Futures Lab, Inc., Learning Innovations in Future Education (LIFE), Skybridge Academy, and ATX Hackerspace.

See you there!

Maggie Duval


Enter below to win one of two pairs of adult + student passes to the STEAM3 Interactive Playground on either day!

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