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Education And Innovation In San Antonio: Geekdom And Arte Kids Books

Geekdom is celebrating its first anniversary and is looking to the future of continued growth and innovation. Local pre-K book series Arte Kids has become a national hit by using San Antonio's bi-lingual and bi-cultural roots.

Assemble the geeks!

San Antonio’s Geekdom is a unique place where entrepreneurs, technologists, developers, and creative professionals work together to build business in the Alamo City.

The collaborative has been going strong for one year and has reached several major milestones. It’s the largest collaborative co-working space in Texas and now ranks among the largest collaborative co-working spaces in the United States; in its first year, Geekdom helped spawn over 50 startup companies.

Mentor-in-Chief and Executive Director of Geekdom, Nick Longo

"Co-working itself doesn't work that well because in a normal co-working environment you'll have, let's say, a car insurance salesman sitting next to a hard-core Ruby developer or system administrator; they don't have much to talk about. This way we have creatives and designers and coders and entrepreneurs  all together in one space, and the requirement is that they have to work together."

Working with middle and high school kids:

"We have Spark Ed, which is for middle school kids, and we're working with 1,500 kids this year from 30 different schools. They come down every weekend to Geekdom. They learn how to build a robot, code a robot -- and this is where it get's cool -- market the robot, build a website for it and sell it; and they do that in one weekend. So they get to go from ideation, hand coding and actually learning how to sell and create a product all in one weekend."

Arte Kids

A San Antonio-created series of bilingual and bicultural art books aimed at babies is selling so well that the creators are getting ready to produce even more.

The Arte Kids Books highlight the importance of art in early childhood literacy and in the age of e-readers, the books are selling quite well across the nation.

President the Library Foundation, Tracy Bennett, and SAMA Special Projects Director, Emily Jones

Bennett: "Kids really identify with art. So I think what's so awesome [about the books] is the mom, the parents , can take these children to SAMA and say, 'Look, here's your book and heres three -- tres -- and there are three flowers in this Monet.' They can actually see the artwork put together with the book and it all connects, and that's really special."
Jones: "I've had a great time with my own children with the book. I have a two-year-old and she's been reading "1-2-3-Sí" and now these two new books over the last year, and I can already tell when she comes to the museum she recognizes some of the works of art and seeing her engagement with the art after having been exposed to it in the book is really exciting."

The books are published by Trinity University Press in collaboration with the San Antonio Museum of Art and the San Antonio Library Foundation.

Jones: "The partnership has been really wonderful. All three of the organizations do very different things, but it's been a great opportunity for us to come together and use our varied skill sets to produce something that's so special and unique in the marketplace for our local community and beyond. Trinity Press has lent their expertise in publishing and distributing the book, the Library Foundation has been a partner in making sure the book gets into the hands of every newborn in Bexar County through their wonderful Born To Read program, and then the San Antonio Museum of Art of course provides the content; it's the museum's collections that are featured in the books."

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David Martin Davies can be reached at dmdavies@tpr.org and on Twitter at @DavidMartinDavi