2019 Synapse Innovation Summit

On January 23rd and 24th, 2019 the third annual Synapse Innovation Summit was held at the Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida. This event is designed to bring together organizations, funders, entrepreneurs, their innovating ideas, and advanced high-technologies from a wide range of industries and organizations to support regionally-based innovation in the technology, education, and entrepreneurial ecosystems throughout Florida. Synapse was produced by the nonprofit Synapse, named for the link between nerve cells in the body. Innovation Summit included workshops and seminars about learning, exploring and celebrating the possibilities in advanced high-technology and innovation, to help connect and establish relationships among those who can contribute to the growth of the Tampa Bay entrepreneurial ecosystem.  There were 334 exhibitors, 111 breakout sessions, 415 speakers, and 5,542 attendees who flooded into downtown Tampa’s Amalie Arena to participate in the high energy event. 

Highlights included “spotlight” sessions devoted to Augmented and Virtual Reality, robotics with the latest on humanoid robots, health and wellness centers with medical advances that restored muscle memory, cyber defense technologies, and top STEM high- technology education programs that are transforming our world and more. In addition, ConnectWise and Synapse teamed up to fund approximately $20,000 worth of scholarships to winners of their Crowdsourcing Innovation Challenges. For more information on Crowdsourcing Challenges, click here.

Augmented & Virtual Reality in Classrooms
The Synapse Innovation Summit had several growing companies that focused on improving the educational experience in classrooms. One company, SproutXR intends to create a learning portal where teachers can download educational games for their students on their smartphones. SproutXR offered a session to try out one of their latest games, where the user plays as a knight that is ordered to defend a gate from upcoming monsters while having to solve simple math problems. SproutXR is hoping teachers will use their games as homework, ice-breakers, and practice problems. Click here to visit their website.
Synapse STEM Pavilion
The Florida Advanced Technological Center-FLATE and at least 15 educational programs and non-profit organizations from around the greater Bay area participated in this great event with booths located in the Synapse STEM Pavilion. In addition to FLATE, other educational booths’ included University of Florida’s Brain-Drone eRacing League, Tampa Bay STEM Network, St. Petersburg College, and more.  The STEM Pavillion provided a great opportunity for educational programs to learn more about cutting edge technologies as well as network with colleagues to build a stronger, more connected STEM Education Ecosystem in our area.
FLATE Continuous Support with the Tampa Bay STEM Network 
Through a strong network of academic, business, and community partnerships, FLATE continues supporting the Tampa Bay STEM Network which goal is to provide time, talent, and treasure to create a well-connected portfolio of experiences that result in the academic success of and multiple opportunities for citizens of all ages to explore and enjoy STEM, thus strengthening our talent base and STEM pipeline, contributing to the vitality of our community.

STEM Ecosystem - Building a Better Tampa Bay
The STEM Ecosystems Initiative is built on over a decade of research into successful STEM collaborations, and seeks to nurture and scale effective science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) learning opportunities for all young people. The 56 communities selected from across the United States compose a national Community of Practice and have demonstrated cross-sector collaborations to deliver rigorous, effective preK-16 instruction in STEM learning. These collaborations happen in schools and beyond the classroom—in afterschool and summer programs, at home, in science centers, libraries and other places both virtual and physical. Strong STEM Learning Ecosystems feature dynamic collaborations among schools, out-of-school time programs, STEM expert institutions (such as museums, science centers, and institutions of higher education and STEM professional associations), the private sector, community-based organizations, youth and families.

The Tampa Bay STEM Network was created in January 2016 and is funded through a generous grant from the STEM Funders Network and Samueli Foundation, with local support from Mr. Jeff Vinik, the Tampa Bay Lightning and Moffitt Cancer Center. Partners of the Tampa Bay STEM Network include Hillsborough County Public Schools, Museum of Science and Industry-MOSI, The Florida Aquarium, Glazer Children’s Museum, The Florida Advanced Technological Education Center-FLATE, Lowry Park Zoo, University of South Florida, Alliance for Public Schools, and Hillsborough Education foundation.
Strengthening our local talent base and STEM pipeline, will contribute to the vitality of our community and Building a Better Tampa Bay.
For more information contact Larry R. Plank (larry.plank@sdh.k12.fl.us), Director, K-12 STEM Education, Hillsborough County Public Schools, Tampa Bay STEM Network.

FLATE Supporting Code.org® Computer Science Fundamentals
Code.org is a nonprofit dedicated to expanding access to computer science in schools and increasing participation by women and underrepresented minorities. Every student in every school should have the opportunity to learn for FREE computer science. Code.org organizes the annual Hour of Code campaign which has engaged 10% of all students in the world and provides the leading curriculum for K-12 computer science in the largest school districts in the United States.

Some FREE Courses from Code.org

Elementary School – Computer Science Fundamentals
Courses from Code.org for students in grades K-12 and professional learning for teacher. Designed to be fun and engaging, Code.org’s progression of CS Fundamentals courses blend online and "unplugged" non-computer activities to teach students computational thinking, problem solving, programming concepts and digital citizenship.

Middle School – Computer Science Discoveries
Broader introduction to computer science topics, appropriate for 6-10th grade students. The course takes a wide lens on computer science by covering topics such as programming, physical computing, HTML/CSS, and data. The course inspires students as they build their own websites, apps, games, and physical computing devices.

High School - Computer Science Principles
Designed to prepare students, appropriate for 9-12 grade students (and teachers) who are new to computer science for the AP CS Principles exam. The course covers many topics including the Internet, Big Data and Privacy, and Programming and Algorithms.

For more information about Code.org, visit https://studio.code.org/courses

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