Jenn Turliuk, CEO
NASA's Singularity University, Queen's University
When I was in 6th grade, I was given an enrichment assignment by my English teacher: to make a website for my book report. So at 12 years old, I coded my first website using HTML and drag-and-drop software. After receiving my grade on the project (an A+! Woo hoo!), I put the website aside and forgot about it for a while. But a few months later, my brother came down the stairs one day holding a magazine and saying “Hey Jenn, didn’t you make a website called Jenn’s Harry Potter?” My site had been featured in a major children’s magazine! And they called it “the most comprehensive Harry Potter image website on the internet”. I logged back onto the site for the first time in months, and saw that it had hundreds of thousands of views!
This was an extremely empowering moment for me – it helped me realize that I could make things that many other people could use. The increased confidence that I developed as a result of this experience helped me to get through the bullying I was facing at the time, improve my grades and my dedication to school, and even start some small businesses outside of school, such as a jewelry selling company and a private swimming lessons company. Later, I went to university and was accepted to a prestigious Graduate Studies Program based at NASA called Singularity University, where we learned about exponential technologies such as 3D printing and robotics and how to apply them to education.
Looking back, I realized that the experience that I had when I was 12 years old was pivotal in my life – I actually think that it was the moment I decided that I wanted to be an entrepreneur. I did some research and found studies showing that experiences like this in childhood can have a vast impact on a person’s life, and that many other successful professionals and entrepreneurs had similar experiences in their childhood. So I decided that I wanted to help facilitate more experiences like this for more children, to help them realize that they can be creators (not just consumers), and to help them realize their potential. In the many years that we’ve been running our camps and weekly programs, we’ve seen kids presenting their MakerKids projects on national TV, starting their own businesses with the skills they’ve learned (e.g. one 10-year-old makes, sells and fixes audio speakers in his neighbourhood), and most importantly – improving their confidence, social skills, and engagement at school.
I hope your child will join us for an adventure in realizing what’s possible. The teacher who took an interest in me helped show me what I was capable of – and that’s what we’re trying to do for your children, everyday.
See you soon.