NOVA: School of the Future

Lights, camera, action!

Wisconsin education leaders tuned in for snacks and a show last night for PBS’s NOVA: School of the Future, a special premier put on by WeThinkBig and Wisconsin Public Television.


NOVA: School of the Future asked “How can the science of learning help us rethink the future of education for all children?” Attendees discussed their thoughts, experiences, and plans for future education after the program finished.

Thank you to Wisconsin Public Television for partnering with WeThinkBig to bring insight and inspiration about education to our community. If you would like to learn more about WTB efforts to support education, visit: &

See other airings of NOVA at:

WeThinkBig is hiring!

WeThinkBig – Executive & Outreach Program AssistantWTB Logo with IEE

Part-time, flexible hours

We Think Big, Inc. (WTB), a not-for-profit organization based in Madison, seeks an organized, high energy and social media savvy Executive & Outreach Program Assistant to assist in launching programs and events for educators and employers in the region.

Reporting to the CEO, the Program Assistant will be responsible for implementing and managing social media, managing contact databases, assisting with special events, and overseeing business operations of the WTB headquarters office on Madison’s west side.  Specific responsibilities include:

Communications, Social Media & Technical

  • Setting up, assisting in strategy and managing WTB’s social media presence, including: websites, staff blogs, twitter, Facebook accounts and other social media
  • Managing the website and online calendar of events (
  • Creating and managing survey forms; registration apps, and related processes
  • Researching content and media

Special Events & Program Management

  • Assisting with special event development; interacting with speakers, presenters, support staff
  • Overseeing event registration and logistics
  • Managing and assisting with program events and development
  • Managing event and program volunteers, interacting with vendors

And other duties as assigned by the CEO.  This is a part-time, hourly position at $12 – 15/hour, with an average of 20 hours/week.  There may be occasional late afternoon/early evening and weekend hours.

The ideal candidate will be or have:

  • Mastery of MS Office Products (MS Word, Excel, Access, Google Docs and Social Media
  • Competence with managing websites, Twitter, Facebook and other social media systems
  • Excellent communicator with great verbal, written and customer service skills
  • Attention to detail and high production standards
  • A self-starter; able to organize, meet deadlines and juggle multiple priorities
  • Reliable transportation, especially while managing special events
  • Passionate about WTB’s mission to support educators and employers in educational innovation

This is an ideal opportunity for an organized, creative individual who wants to make a difference, build their portfolio and apply their professional efforts to a good cause.

Interested candidates should send resume with brief cover letter to with “Assistant Search” in the subject line.  

Wisconsin Educators and Employers Thinking Big to share, learn and work together for the benefit of all students

SXSW: Underground Professional Development: What’s Up?

Friends of WeThinkBig and Madison Public Library,

We need your help!

Madison’s very own Kathe Crowley Conn and Laura Damon Moore are in the running to present at this year’s SXSW Edu!

In order to present, we need to get as many votes as possible!!

Send our local education enthusiasts to SXSW to lead a panel discussion on underground professional development in education by sending in your vote. Simply make an online account and help us represent innovation within Wisconsin Education!

Vote for Kathe & Laura’s panel at:


Underground Professional Development: What’s Up?

Underground PD: Let’s look under the ‘Hood — Oftentimes Districts and traditional PD venues cannot provide the most up to date and relevant PD for local educators, nor skills they want to learn. This session will explore the concept of ‘underground PD” – a new approach that provides educator PD and a taste of technology & innovation when and where teachers need it, using community experts, local businesses, and other just-in-time experiences that occur in pop-up venues like coffee shops, restaurants and other fun and social venues. This approach has been launched in Madison WI where it has reached hundreds and spurred Communities of Innovative Practice.


  1. Learn how you can tap organizations, local talent and new relationships with local bus. professionals to build needed educator skills
  2. Explore different program and event models that utilize local talent & community resources for enhanced professional development of teachers
  3. Shape underground offerings that offer new experiences, yet support and complement what is provided by Districts and traditional PD venues.


Go to SXSW and search “Underground Professional Development: What’s up? To vote for Kathe and Laura!


A look back at WI’s first Startup Weekend for Education


July 22-24, 2016, Madison, WI.  An estimated 100 people came to the Discovery Building in Madison last weekend to participate in Wisconsin’s first Startup Weekend for Education. The gathering drew over 45 active participants, as well as over two dozen coaches and judges from some of Wisconsin’s most prestigious organizations.Organized locally by a team of education and business interests and led by the new Madison-based educational nonprofit, WeThinkBig, the event was open to public registration.

The goal of the weekend was to bring together educators, students, and school administrators, with tech, business and startup professionals to problem-solve and creatively design startup prototypes.  The local program was part of over 20 facilitated around the world last weekend by 4.0 Schools organization.

The weekend’s activities were facilitated by local nonprofit entrepreneur, and WTB CEO, Kathe Crowley Conn, and EdTech professional Sean Duffy, COO/Co-Founder of Edtech Action, and Co-Director of Startup Next Austin from Austin, Texas.  Madison’s own Becky Splitt, entrepreneur and co-founder of StudyBlue, provided the evening’s Keynote Address.

Participants pitched ideas on how to improve education, and were coached on how to develop the concept, business plan and pitch over the weekend.  Participants varied from a local kindergarten teacher to software developers at Epic Systems to a medical doctor from the Chicago suburbs.  Coaches represented experts in education, tech, business, marketing and legal professions.

The weekend culminated in a Final Pitch Contest to a panel of State experts, assisted by a student panel of students.  The top three winners were awarded prizes that included passes to SXSW-Edu in Austin next spring, local advising services, and free membership to Wisconsin’s largest co-working organization, 100 State.

The top three winners were announced Sunday evening:

First place: FlashLapse. FlashLapse records time lapse photography of biological action in petri dishes using Arduino/Rasp Pi/3Dprinting technology to encourage better interest and understanding of science.

Second place: UFi. An online app of resources and simulations that provide college students a deeper understanding of complex financial concepts and their own financial decisions.

Third place: Random Acts of Mindfulness. Random Acts of Mindfulness (RAM) is a smartphone app for teachers who want to promote mindfulness in their classrooms that prompts customized and randomized mindfulness practices for teachers to do with their students.

Derek Block, a science teacher from Sun Prairie School district attended the event with his brother Joel. Both brothers worked with others to create an app that allows elementary school students to participate in space mission-based scientific research through interactive games, quizzes and observation. Said the brothers: “… We both want to get real science professionals in the classroom, and by making this (SWEDU) connection we have a chance to develop conversations with professors and people we met here. We want to get students with scientists, rather than just (have them) learn from a book.”

For additional information on the event, including judges, coaches, and event details, visit:

WeThinkBig is a local independent, non-profit organization that brings innovators across the education, business and public/private sectors to collaborate, learn and advance excellence in education and student learning. It works to: 1) inspire and shape a shared vision for educational innovation in the region; 2) empower educators by providing tools, experiences and resources to realize that vision; and 3) engage across sectors to create partnerships critical for success.  WeThinkBig created and hosts the Sparks! Innovation Showcase series, Camp Mad Media, Happy Hour of Code, EdTech Sampler and other professional learning opportunities for educators and business professionals in greater Dane County.


Organizing Team Members:

WeThinkBig, StudyBlue, Edgewood College, UW Extension, C. Blohm & Assoc., Weinert Ctr. Entrepreneurship, FieldDayLab.Org, Madison College, WI DPI, GMCC, WCEPS, WARF, CESA 3, CISCO / WTI & WCER



Gold Sponsor: UW Extension

In an increasingly entrepreneurial business environment, Wisconsin has a lot of room to grow to produce start-up companies. With a huge range of offerings for people in Wisconsin and beyond, the University of Wisconsin-Extension is uniquely poised to produce innovative, forward-thinking citizens who will create and guide the businesses of the future.

UW-Extension educational programs and research meet people where they are and provide tools to help them make their ideas real. With the UW Flexible Option, an educational partnership between UW-Extension and other University of Wisconsin System institutions, adult learners earn UW degrees through project-based learning, and using the skills and experiences that they bring with them. Programs in the Division for Business and Entrepreneurship can assist new businesses to secure funding, develop launch plans and market themselves for future success. Innovative approaches at Wisconsin Public Radio and Wisconsin Public Television connect Wisconsin residents with important news and trends that impact the business climate. And Cooperative Extension offices in each Wisconsin county bring UW research and expertise to businesses, families and communities around the state.

Visit to learn more about the UW-Extension services around Wisconsin.




MadSWEDU Sponsorship

A big THANK YOU to all of our sponsors who made Madison’s First Startup Weekend for Education possible! It was a huge success and we couldn’t have done it without you all!


Gold Sponsors: 

4.0 Schools
NBC Universal
Wisc Institute for Discovery
UW Extension
Great Lakes Higher Education Casualty Corp.
Madison College
100 State
C. Blohm & Associates

Silver Sponsors: 

Galin Education
4490 Ventures

Other Sponsors:

CUNA Mutual Foundation
Sophia Learning


See more information about Madison Startup Weekend for Education at:

“Hack-a-thon with a Cause” helps innovate solutions

From mind’s eye to marketplace: Startup Weekend EDU launches in Madison,

inspiring ed tech invention

Educator feedback and expert coaches guide entrepreneurs in problem solving and product development process during immersive 54-hour event


MADISON, Wis. (July 11, 2016) – WeThinkBig, a Madison-based non-profit organization dedicated to improving educational experiences through educational innovation, is heading an effort to bring the nationally acclaimed Startup Weekend for Education (SWEDU) to Madison on July 22-24 at the Wisconsin Institute of Discovery Building (330 N Orchard St.). Educators, innovators and entrepreneurs will start from scratch to create products that address solutions to educational needs during this immersive 54-hour event. Tickets are still available at


People of all skill sets – developers, educators, software us/designers, and digital marketers —  and experience levels can apply their skills to help turn a promising concept into a prototype that can make a difference for our students and teachers.  Over the course of the weekend, brand-new concepts and solutions will be created and pitched to attendees. Participants will then form teams to test those concepts and build prototypes, with guidance from expert coaches in education and all areas of business. The weekend will close with a final team competition to determine the most promising concepts, plans and prototypes. Judges will select winners to be awarded free SXSWedu passes, courtesy of the NBCUniversal Open Possibilities Challenge, free tickets to Forward Fest, annual membership at 100 State, and other prizes.


SWEDU is powered by 4.0 Schools, which offers a platform for educators, technologists and entrepreneurs to create bold solutions for problems in schools across the nation. This will be the first SWEDU event held in the state of Wisconsin. Previous SWEDU events have been held in major cities in the United States such as Chicago, San Francisco, Portland, Kansas City and Washington D.C. and around the world.


“We approached 4.0 Schools to bring SWEDU to Madison after talking with educators about their challenges and needs, and recognizing the potential power of the tremendous education and business talent in the region,” said Kathe Crowley Conn, CEO of WeThinkBig, Inc. “SWEDU creates an exciting and engaging venue for local educators, software developers and designers, and entrepreneurs to work together to jointly understand and develop solutions for real-life issues that teachers face.”


Expert coaches from businesses and organizations include senior professionals from: Filament Games, Field Day Lab.Org, Noble Applications, StudyBlue, Michael Best & Friedrich, UW Law & Entrepreneur Clinic, Cooperative Education Services Agencies 1 & 3, UW Extension, Department of Public Instruction, EatStreet, UW-D2P, Wisconsin Center for Educational Products & Services, and C. Blohm & Associates.  These leaders will mentor the competing teams on the educational, financial, marketing and legal facets of product development.


The blue-ribbon panel of judges will be announced later this week.


Gold sponsors include: NBC Universal, 4.0 Schools, Great Lakes Higher Education Casualty Corporation, UW Extension, 100 State, C. Blohm & Associates and WeThinkBig. Silver sponsors include: Wisconsin Center for Education Products & Services, WiscNet and 4490 Ventures. Other sponsors include: CUNA Mutual Foundation and SOPHIA Learning.



About WeThinkBig

WeThinkBig is a local independent, non-profit organization that brings innovators across the education, business and public/private sectors to collaborate, learn and advance excellence in education and student learning. It works to: 1) inspire and shape a shared vision for educational innovation in the region; 2) empower educators by providing tools, experiences and resources to realize that vision; and 3) engage across sectors to create partnerships critical for success.  WeThinkBig created and hosts the Sparks! Innovation Showcase series, Camp Mad Media, Happy Hour of Code, EdTech Sampler and other professional learning opportunities for educators and business professionals in greater Dane County.


About 4.0 Schools

4.0 Schools is an early-stage education incubator that brings educators, entrepreneurs and technologists together to build solutions that redefine how we teach and learn. To date, 4.0 has launched 23 ventures and trained hundreds in its approach to innovation in education.



For more information, contact:

Sierra Hartman

(608) 516-9505


Startup Weekend for Education!


Calling all Teachers, Education Innovators & Developers!

Are you a change-maker itching for the opportunity to work with others to create solutions for student learning in classrooms and schools?

WeThinkBig is bringing the nationally-acclaimed Startup Weekend for Education (SWEDU) to Madison, July 22-24, 2016 at the Wisconsin Institutes of Discovery Building.

Work with educators, innovators and entrepreneurs in a creative 54-hour period to create solutions and innovations for education and teaching.  Your ticket entitles you to meals, refreshments and supplies for the weekend.  Event participants are eligible to win tickets to SXSW and other prizes.  Space is limited, so register today at SWEDU-Madison!

WTB Logo with IEE

NBC Universal


Don’t Miss the Season Finale…

Don’t miss the Sparks! Innovation Series finale (for the schoolyear, that is), “Blackout Poetry and Instagram Slam” next Thursday, May 26th, from 4-6pm at Madison Public Library — Central Library.  

We will explore a creative new activity and art form spearheaded by Austin Kleon that is capturing student interest across the country; talk about how we can innovate in our schools; network, schmooze and enjoy refreshments.  Sign up today at the TeachersNet Meet Up before spaces fill up!

Hope to see you there! — Kathe